Quesadillas: Use your imagination for fillings

For my column this month, I am going to share three recipes for quesadillas. Quesadillas are a versatile item. One can create so many different varieties. They are a great way to use leftovers. Almost anything can be turned into a quesadilla as long as there are enough moist ingredients to keep the overall quesadilla from turning out dry. You can also use just about any variety of cheese, except the really hard ones like Parmesan

Quesadillas are cheese and other savory ingredients folded inside a tortilla and toasted on a griddle or saute pan. They are to Mexican cooking what crepes or omelettes are to French cuisine. They are a "catch all" for many flavors and flavor combinations. I create so many different versions of quesadillas at my Gourmet Catering and Takeout. They are a whim of whatever ingredients are available to me at the given time. Here are some recipes for quesadillas; but remember to use my ideas as a guideline -- create your own. Base them on your personal taste.

Quesadillas with Grilled Shitake Mushrooms

and Cambonzola Cheese

1U2 pound fresh shitake mushrooms

1 T. canola oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1U2 small onion, finely chopped

4 10-inch flour tortillas

3U4 cup cambonzola cheese

1U2 cup fontina cheese

Remove and discard shitake stems and brush the tops with a small amount of oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let stand for 10 minutes. Grill or broil until cooked through and limp. Let cool, slice, and set aside.

Mince onion and add to cooled shitake mushrooms. Fill each quesadilla. Spread a little of the onion-mushroom mixture on one side of a tortilla. Sprinkle with fontina and cambonzola cheese, fold in half, and cook on greased griddle or nonstick skillet until browned, about 2 minutes per side.

Cut each quesadilla into 8 wedges and serve as an hors d'oeurve.

Quesadillas with

Smoked Salmon

4 ounce goat cheese

3 ounce cream cheese

1U4 cup sour cream

1 T. green onion, chopped

2 T. fresh dill, minced

4 10-inch flour tortillas

3 ounce smoked salmon, thinly sliced

1 T. canola oil

Blend goat cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, green onion and dill in a small bowl. Spread cheese mixture evenly over half of four tortillas. Divide salmon evenly over the cheese mixture, laying pieces flat. Fold in one half and press down gently.

Follow cooking method described for Shitake Quesadilla.

Vegetarian Quesadilla with Spinach, Zucchini and Mouncezarella Cheese

3 T. canola oil

3 T. butter

6 ounce mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 large zucchini, coarsely chopped

10 ounce fresh spinach, cooked, drained and squeezed dry

1 sweet onion, finely chopped,

1 garlic clove, minced

2 medium serrano chili, seeded and finely chopped

1 teaspoon diced fresh oregano

1U4 cup finely chopped black olives

1U2 cup grated cotija cheese

3 ounce mouncezarella cheese (3/4 cup)

4 10-inch flour tortillas


In a large skillet, melt 1 T. butter. Add sliced mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook until lightly browned.

In a food processor, pulse the zucchini until minced. Add the spinach and process until minced.

In a saucepan, melt 1 T. butter and 1 T. oil. Add onion, garlic, serrano and oregano. Cook until items are softened, not browned. Add spinach and olives. Cool lightly; stir in cheeses.

Fill tortilla halves as in previous recipes. Cook as in previous recipes. Serves 8 as hors d'oeurves.

A great salsa for all of the above quesadillas is

Salsa Fresca

Fresh Tomato Salsa

There are many, many versions of salsa fresca -- probably as many versions as there are cooks. Here is one that I love. Serve it with anything Mexican, especially quesadillas. Recipes makes 3 cups.

11U2 tomatoes, cored, seeded and cut into one-quarter-inch dice

1U2 cup sweet onion, chopped

1U4 cup cilantro, chopped

1 serrano chili, seeded, deveined and finely chopped

3 T. fresh lime juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients and let stand for at least one hour before serving.

Serve quesadillas hot or warm with Salsa Fresca. When you create your own quesadilla, the options are endless. Kids love just chicken and cheddar. Create and enjoy! Don't be afraid to create your own flavors.

Molly Gingell is the owner of Molly's Gourmet Catering and Takeout and cooking school at 220 W. John St. in Carson City.


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