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Quick Quesadillas with a Green Chile Kick

Fine Cooking Issue 41
Photo: Scott Phillips
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Quesadillas have been welcome guests at my dinner table ever since my college days because they’re simultaneously comforting (think grilled cheese sandwich) and exciting (think zingy salsa and fragrant cilantro). A quesadilla is also remarkably quick, and as long as I’ve got a pack of flour tortillas in the fridge or freezer, I can always count on having something on hand to use as a filling.

You’ll want to have some kind of cheese as the melty, savory base, but once that’s in place, the rest of the filling is up to you and your leftovers. (By the way, my style of quesadilla is by no means authentic Mexican. I’m just borrowing the name to describe my own version of something folded up in a fried tortilla.)

I love the combo of Monterey Jack, feta, fresh cilantro, and a mild green chile salsa that I buy at the supermarket (one brand I like is called Valley of Mexico), but red salsas are delicious, too. I’ve made quesadillas with avocados, shredded chicken (leftover barbecued chicken is killer), chopped tomatoes, roasted peppers. I also make some odd-sounding combinations, tried initially out of desperation, but subsequently repeated by choice: scrambled eggs or mashed potatoes taste great with my standard base of cheese, green chile, and cilantro.

A quesadilla and a simple salad make a fine supper or lunch, but I also make quesadillas as a hot hors d’oeuvre for parties; I just use smaller tortillas. I make an effort to get all my ingredients shredded, chopped, and organized (which you need to do even for a single serving), and then it’s really easy to fire off a few quesadillas once the guests arrive. I cut them into small wedges and arrange them on a platter around a bowl of salsa for dipping.


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