The quesadilla, like a sandwich or a kebab, is a fabulously forgiving vehicle. It lends itself to vegetarians, pescatarians or omnivores, it can be eaten simply midweek, as it is, or dressed up with guacamole, salsa and melted cheese at the weekend and if you only have part of a recipe, not all of it, you are still likely to produce something filling and delicious.
This recipe, from Thomasina Miers’s Wahaca Mexican Food at Home, is a great example. It is delicious when you have everything, but it also works with myriad substitutions. Don’t have tarragon? Add more mint or, as I do, use some coriander. Don’t have a white onion? Use red or, even better, spring onions. Only have frozen peas not broad beans? Then use more peas.
What you are after is a mixture of potatoes, onions, green vegetables, herbs and cheese so, once you have the proportions worked out, play with the contents. One of these midweek makes an easy after-work dinner; add guacamole, sour cream and a side of spicy red cabbage salad at the weekend and you have a real treat. And, once you’ve learnt the basics, the how to fill and flip, how to dress up or down, then try branching out with other fillings; there are some great ideas on how to make quesadillas even better on the fabulous Food 52.
Makes enough for 2-4
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
new potatoes, 225g
garlic cloves, 2
olive oil, 5 tbsp
frozen peas, 100g
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
green chilli, 1
fresh mint leaves, small handful
fresh tarragon leaves, small handful
lime (the recipe uses just the juice, but I tend to add the zest too)
frozen broad beans, 200g
flour tortillas, 4
1. Boil or steam the potatoes (no need to peel them, unless you want to) until they are tender, then drain and set aside.
2. Whilst the potatoes are cooking, get everything else ready: peel and finely chop the onion, garlic and green chilli (deseed the latter if you don’t want too much heat); chop the mint and tarragon and zest and juice the lime.
3. Heat a heavy-bottomed frying pan over a high heat and when it is hot add 3 tablespoons of the oil. Lower the heat to medium, add the onion, garlic and chilli then cook for about 10 minutes, or until the onion has softened.
4. Whilst the onion is cooking, boil the broad beans for about 3 minutes then add the peas. Cook for another 3-4 minutes, until just done.
5. Once the onion is ready, add the potatoes to the onion, mashing it all together with a fork or spoon, then season to taste with the lime zest and juice, salt and pepper (go easy on the salt, since the feta will add plenty). Gently mix in the remaining olive oil, the peas, beans, herbs and feta. If the mixture looks a bit dry, add a little more oil or lime juice.
6. Roughly spread some of the mixture onto the bottom half of a tortilla (though the temptation may be to overfill them, too much filling will just spill out) then grate the Cheddar over the top. Fold the empty half of the tortilla over the mixture, making a half-moon shape, then press the halves firmly together. Repeat with all four tortillas.
7. Heat a frying pan or griddle pan over a medium heat, brush the quesadillas with olive oil on one side and place, oiled side down, into the pan. Oil the top whilst the bottom cooks. (You can oil both sides before putting them in the pan but I find it easier to oil the second side/top once it is in the pan.) Cook until golden and crisp then turn and cook the other side. Cut each into halves or wedges and serve immediately.