An Ode to Quesadillas
An Ode to Quesadillas
Photo: Graydon Herriott.
Ah, the quesadilla: as simple as it is satisfying.
Is there anything better than having a little craving (or antojo) for something warm and nourishing and scratching that itch with a warm tortilla filled with delicate melted cheese and a splash of fresh salsa? Some folks, especially those in Mexico City and central Mexico, would argue that you don't even need the 'queso' to make it a quesadilla — just a tortilla and your favorite guiso like cooked spinach, sautéed mushrooms, chicken tinga, picadillo, or chorizo y papas. But there's a whole other camp of people would couldn't imagine a quesadilla without that signature stretchy, stringy, ooey gooeyness of melted cheese to bind it all together and give it that stick-to-your-ribs effect.
No matter which side you stand on, know that there's simply no wrong way to make a quesadilla. And while there are no rules when it comes to quesadilla making, we do have a few tips to share:
- Start with a good tortilla. When you're preparing something simple, it's all about quality ingredients. A homemade tortilla will take your quesadilla to a whole new level. Make sure both sides of your tortilla are warm, and therefore pliable, before you attempt to fold.
- Choose your cheese. We love queso Oaxaca or quesillo, which has a mellow flavor that combines well with other fillings. Another option is requesón or ricotta. It pairs beautifully with spinach and mushrooms and creates an light and airy texture that is a fun contrast to the faintly crispy texture of a tortilla hot of the comal. Other options include Chihuahua, mozzarella, or Monterey Jack. But the sky's really the limit. Have fun mixing and matching based on your craving.
- Raid your fridge for ideas. The best quesadillas upcycle leftovers like rotisserie chicken, roasted veggies, refried beans, etc. It's a great way to use up those bits 'n' bobs in the refrigerator.
- Warm up your salsa. Cold, just-outta-the-fridge salsa is never a good idea. We like to aim for room temperature or even warm salsa (the height of luxury). Add a drizzle to your quesadilla while it's still on the pan or warm up a small bowl on the stove or in the microwave to serve alongside. Love the vinegar-y tang of a bottled salsa? Reach for Cholula or Valentina, which can be stored on your counter or in your pantry at room temperature.