Vegetarian Quesadillas

When our niece Gina served us her version of quesadillas made with leftover steak and vegetables, I was so impressed that I asked for the recipe. The recipe turned out to be a set of instructions which you can find here. It is easy to follow and produces delicious appetizers or light lunches in almost no time.

Gina’s instructions call for using various leftover ingredients from your refrigerator, but for once there weren’t many leftovers in our fridge. The most obvious one was a resealable package of some corn tortillas that remained after Jerri had made Layered Enchilada Pie . I also found half an onion and a chunk of Cheddar cheese.

A quick visit to the supermarket solved the problem of vegetables for my quesadillas. I chose things that I like, and you should do the same. You might, however, want to avoid broccoli, brussels sprouts, turnips, carrots, beets and other vegetables usually associated with the north country. The ones listed below create a tasty quesadilla and offer a good starting point.

INGREDIENTS:

2 small to medium jalapeño peppers
1/2 medium red bell pepper
1/3 cup chopped zucchini squash
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped mushrooms
1/4 tsp. Mexican seasoning
Dash of salt
2 T olive oil
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 or 2 T butter
8 corn tortillas

PROCEDURE:

Wash and cut the stem ends off the jalapeño peppers and slice them into quarters. Remove and discard the white membrane and seeds. Chop the peppers into an eighth to quarter-inch dice. Clean and chop the rest of the vegetables into a third to half-inch dice. Shred the cheese.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over moderate heat, add the vegetables, Mexican seasoning and salt. Cook the vegetables three or four minutes, stirring them often, until they are tender but still crisp. They will continue cooking when you fry the quesadillas.

Set the vegetables aside in a bowl and wipe the frying pan with a paper towel. Butter a tortilla very very lightly and put it butter side down in the frying pan over moderate heat. Sprinkle the tortilla with some shredded cheese and spoon on an even layer of vegetables, then top with more cheese. Butter very lightly a second tortilla and put it butter side up on the cheese.

Cover the pan and cook the quesadilla for three minutes. Press the top tortilla down on the filling and turn the quesadilla. Cook for a minute covered and a second minute uncovered. Turn the quesadilla over to make sure that it is lightly browned on both sides. Fry it an extra minute or two if necessary. Place the quesadilla on a warmed plate and repeat until you have made four of these tasty morsels.

To serve, cut in halves or quarters with a pizza cutter. If you wish, pass the salsa.

NOTES: Feel free to experiment with other vegetables, more spice, different cheese, etc. If you are averse to any spiciness, you can substitute a green bell pepper for the jalapeños and make up your own seasoning with salt, garlic powder and whatever. Chopped very fine, however, the jalapeños simply offset the blandness of the other vegetables and do not taste very hot. You really should try it, perhaps starting with only one jalapeño.

MEXICAN SEASONING: You can find Mexican seasoning in the spice section of most supermarkets, or you can make enough to spice up a lot of dishes in a few minutes.

INGREDIENTS:

1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1?2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1?2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. paprika
1 1?2 tsp. ground cumin
1?2 tsp. sea salt
1?2 tsp. black pepper
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground cloves

PROCEDURE:

Grind the pepper flakes and oregano in a mortar. Add the salt and black pepper and grind more to mix well. Add the other ingredients and grind briefly to mix everything together. Store in a tight container in a cool place out of direct sunlight.