Monday, April 30, 2012

Quesadilla madness!

I think today might've been one of the most well-attended sessions of the Eco-Friendly Group. (I wonder if word got around after we made chocolate beet brownies two weeks ago. Attendance has definitely improved since....) Today's feast was made up of homemade veggie quesadillas, fresh salsa, and guacamole from scratch. Once we got past the shoddy electrical wiring in the classroom's single outlet and managed to get our portable burners working, the students banded together with some of the most fantastic teamwork I have seen to date. Washing, chopping, filling, flipping, juicing, stirring, was great!

You think teenagers don't eat vegetables? Try chopping them up and putting them in a whole wheat tortilla with a little melted cheese. I can't TELL you how many students told me, unprompted, how easy the quesadillas were to make, how tasty they were, how they liked to choose what went into them, how they planned to make them at home for themselves, their siblings, their families. Well, my student chefs, all of the ingredients can be found at your local supermarket, or you can explore your local farmers' market once that starts up... and some of the ingredients we'll be growing right here in Suitland. Tomatoes, spinach, onions, garlic, cilantro -- yum! (Wonder if we can start some mushroom logs. Hmmm.)

Had I known how popular today's cooking would be -- at 5:00, I left with about a cup of salsa, as even the leftover mushrooms, fresh spinach, and guacamole made their way home in students' foil care packages -- I'd have brought more copies of the recipe. But after I mentioned to students that they could find the recipe here on the blog, I noticed quite a few of them scribbling down this blog address, so maybe the conservation of paper wasn't such a bad thing after all.Here, for your cooking pleasure, is the much-sought-after recipe: 

Quesadillas (Prep time: 5 minutes. Cook time: 5 minutes)

Large flour tortillas
Grated cheese
Olive oil

Optional fillings:
Fresh mushrooms, sliced
Green onions, thinly sliced
Black olives, sliced
Fresh tomatoes, diced
Red onion, minced
Fresh garlic, minced
Fresh spinach, chopped

Lettuce/cabbage “slaw”:
A small head of lettuce OR a few handfuls of cut lettuce OR a small head of cabbage
A splash of apple cider vinegar
A pinch of salt


1. Heat a large frying pan to medium high heat. Add a small amount of oil (about 1/2 teaspoon) and spread it around the bottom of the pan with a spatula (you could use butter as well). Take one large flour tortilla and place it in the pan. Flip the tortilla over a few times, 10 seconds between flips.

2. Air pockets should begin to form within the tortilla. When pockets of air begin to form, take a handful of grated cheese, sprinkle over the top of the tortilla, making sure that the cheese does not land on the pan itself. Add whatever additional ingredients you choose - green onion, sliced mushrooms, olives, tomatoes, etc. If you would like your quesadilla to be a chicken quesadilla, add some diced cooked chicken. (Take care not to layer on the ingredients to thickly - this is a quesadilla, not a quiche!)

3. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. The pan should be hot enough by now to have plenty of residual heat to melt the cheese and brown the tortilla. If the quesadilla begins to smoke too much, remove from the heat. After a minute, check to see if the cheese is melted. If not, return the cover and keep checking every minute until the cheese is melted.

4. When the cheese is sufficiently melted, use a spatula to lift up one side of the quesadilla and flip over the other side, as if you were making an omelet. The tortilla should by now be browned slightly and look like a flat taco. If it is not browned, turn the heat up to high and flip the quesadilla over every 10 seconds or so until it gets browned. Remove from pan and cut into wedges.

To make the lettuce “slaw” to accompany the quesadilla, thinly slice some lettuce (or cabbage). Then sprinkle some cider vinegar on it and some salt to taste.

Serve with guacamole, fresh salsa, and/or plain Greek yoghurt (a healthy alternative to sour cream, though I do love sour cream sometimes).

So... what would you put on your perfect quesadilla?

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