Oh no! You just got back from a day at the beach, the kids are cranky and hungry, you have nothing to cook because you did not go to the grocery store (because you were at the beach), and its getting late. Or — you’ve been out drinking all night, you get home hungry and all you have are some stinky leftovers and an old zucchini. What to do?!? Make risotto? Screw that shit! Well, mis amigos, the answer is… make quesadillas! Quesadillas are an often misunderstood form of Mexican fast food, also known as “antojitos”. In essence, a quesadilla is a tortilla filled with stuff, folded in half and heated through. Probably the initial filling was cheese, thus the name quesadilla. They can be heated on a griddle called a comal, or deep fried. The tortilla can be either corn or flour and often, if they are to be fried, tortilla dough is filled with stuff, sealed and then fried.
Most quesadillas use corn tortillas, and the ones made with flour tortillas are sometimes called burritas (probably a precursor to the American burrito). A flour tortilla with ham and cheese is called a sincronizada, a “synchronized” quesadilla, for reasons too obscure to figure out. Fillings can range from simple (cheese) to exotic (corn fungus) to totally fucked up (brains). We usually use leftovers to stuff quesadillas. To make a quesadilla start with a corn or flour tortilla. I prefer corn. But if you live in an area with a low hispanic population, it is unlikely that you will find decent corn tortillas. So if you can only get crappy tortillas, then go with flour, they will be less crappy. Heat the tortilla on a hot griddle or large skillet, don’t use any oil or grease. Put some filling in the tortilla and fold it in half. and heat well on both sides until filling gets hot/cheese melts. And that’s it! While you can fill your quesadilla with pretty much anything, here are some of my favorite variations:
1. Flor de Calabaza – Squash blossoms. If you have a zucchini plant, you can pick several of the male flowers and give them a quick rinse. Sometimes you can find them at the farmer’s market. Saute the chopped blossoms with finely chopped zucchini, onions, a small tomato and corn. Add oregano, salt and pepper. If you want add a thin slice of queso fresco.
2. Papa con chorizo – potato and chorizo. Cut up a potato into small pieces and boil. Saute some finely chopped chorizo sausage and add the potatoes once they are soft. Heat up thoroughly.
3. Hongos – Mushrooms. Sautee some chopped mushrooms with onion, salt, pepper and oregano.
4. Frijol con queso – beans and cheese. Use any beans, home cooked or canned, and any melty cheese. I like black beans. For cheese, look for Oaxaca cheese, but if not provolone or cheddar work well.
5. Rajas con queso – Roasted peppers with cheese. Take a fresh poblano pepper and use the direct flame from the stove, broiler or bbq to char the skin until it is black. Put in a paper bag for 15 min. Under cold running water remove most of the charred skin. Remove core and seeds and slice thinly the pepper into strips. These are your basic rajas. You can either saute rajas with onion or use as is. Combine with cheese to make your quesadilla.
So there you go. Eat with some green salsa or your favorite other salsa (to make salsa put some tomatillos or tomatoes, onions, cilantro, lime juice and several jalapeños in the blender, then heat in a small saucepan until it boils). Serve with beans and rice on the side if you wish.