We’re all about quesadillas around here. Need a snack? Make a quesadilla. Need a fast lunch? Make two. Since we (usually) eat gluten-free, we use corn tortillas… which are healthier anyway… which is a fact I have to remind myself of every time because I really, really prefer the slightly fluffy, slightly chewy loveliness of a zero nutrition count white flour tortilla. Either way– corn or flour tortilla– quesadillas are kid-friendly fare that enables me to get food on the table in a hurry. Recently I came across a couple of recipes that make this even easier and more nutritious too. Even better, there are a lot of ways to go with it… just like a choose your own adventure book from childhood. Here’s my mish-mash of the two recipes…
CYOA Quesadilla Mix
1 cup shredded chicken (or 1 can of chicken breast, drained, obviously)
olive oil for sauteing
1 bell pepper (original calls for yellow, but I’m thinking any color will bring its own thing)
1/3 medium onion, diced finely
2 cups frozen corn (or canned)
4-6 tbsp salsa
1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed*
8 oz shredded Mexican blend cheese
4 oz cream cheese (optional… see below)
Tortillas (flour or corn… see below)
Saute the bell pepper, onion and corn in olive oil. Add in chicken, corn, salsa & black beans. Here is where you have a few options…
Path one: Gonna eat ’em now
Put the cream cheese in and cook the mixture till it melts. Add in the shredded cheese until it melts. Flop onto tortillas in a skillet, top with another tortilla.
Path two: Gonna eat it within a day or two
Cook the mixture as above. If you’re doing flour tortillas, go ahead and spread it on half a tortilla and fold over. Wrap in plastic wrap and heat the quesadillas up when your ready. I don’t see this working with corn tortillas well at all. If you’re doing corn tortillas, cook it up and refrigerate it until you’re ready to eat it then all you have to do is put it on the tortillas and heat.
Path three: Gonna save it for a fast meal later
This part is sheer genius if you ask me. Let the cooked onions, peppers, corn, etc. cool then mix with salsa and shredded cheese and throw it into a freezer bag. When you’re ready to make your quesadillas, thaw the mixture out and cook up some delicious quesadillas in a flash.
This adventure path omits the cream cheese since it doesn’t have a great reputation in the freezer (they totally ruin its texture in there… nasty really… I think the ice cream is the instigator, but we’ll never be able to prove it). You could try it (maybe your ice cream is nicer than mine)… it’s in a small enough amount proportionately that it might work. If you think perhaps your ice cream is the kind and gentle sort, then follow the cooking directions above and just freeze the mixture in a freezer bag.
Either way, cream cheese or not, I’d recommend freezing the mix flat for easier thawing.
Path four: Skip the tortillas altogether
This makes a really good dip. Follow the cooking directions in Path one and serve with chips. It also makes an awesome addition to a bowl of beans and rice. I haven’t tried it, but I’m guessing that if you added some chicken broth, it’d make a really yummy soup.
Serve with additional salsa, sour cream, guacamole… you know… whatever strikes your fancy. For a side dish, I’d go with mexican rice and tropical fruit salad… but that’s just me. :o)
*If you’re watching out for high fructose corn syrup, check your beans. I was really surprised to find my can of black beans had HFCS. I think it was a can of Bush’s beans, but I’m not sure. Walmart generic beans are HFCS free.