Quesadillas! – Everything you need to know

What’s that, you say? You don’t know what a quesadilla is let alone how to pronounce it?

Let me introduce you to the “kay-suh-dee-ah”, a genuine Mexican dish.  It usually comprises a flour or corn tortilla, filled on one side with a little salsa, onion, maybe guacamole and the stringy queso Oaxaca or Oaxacan white cheese, folded in half and then griddled on both sides until the cheese has melted.

These delicious little cheesy “sandwiches” are a great light lunch, fun to make for dinner and are also a fine cold lunch snack. Mozzarella cheese is a common and acceptable substitute for the proper white cheese here in Australia and you can fill your tortilla with whatever suits your tastes and diet. Actually the best part about this sort of cheese is that once it’s toasting, it pretty much sets cold into the same taste and texture it was pre-toasting. Epic bonus! That’s one of the reasons it’s so good for a cold lunch. A properly made corn tortilla will contain only corn masa and water, no flour or other gluten binders. Keep in mind that corn tortillas can be more brittle and need warming before they are pliable. Some form of cheese or other suitably binding substitute is required to make a good quesadilla. But I’ve found selected vegan cheeses to be a pretty awesome substitute and often you can’t tell the difference.

When filling your quesadilla for griddling, keep in mind that you don’t want to overfill it because while a tortilla is a delicious vehicle for many fillings, it is not actually that strong. If that thing is becoming thicker than about a centimetre then you’re starting to get in trouble. Also don’t put a lot of soggy ingredients it as it’ll soak through and the tortilla won’t toast properly and it’ll be a hell of a thing to try and pick up and eat. Too much salsa, diced tomato, meat, anything of that fashion is going to make it heavy. Less is definitely more in this area. Here’s are some visual instructions to make it easy:


Some flavour combinations that are simple and delicious. Don’t forget to have some green chilli sauce on hand! Tasty or cheddar cheese works fine in small quantities but don’t use too much because it’s actually quite an oily cheese. Try and use it in combination with mozzarella or proper queso. Vegan cheeses are also brilliant for this. Increase and multiply recipes as necessary. Your standard supermarket flour tortillas tend to come in packs of 8-12. I would eat 2 quesadillas, my partner would eat 4, my five year old one and my toddler one. So at minimum, you’re going to use a full pack, but you’ll want another one for lunches or larger and additional people.

First you need a simple salsa:


6 chopped ripe tomatoes, cut in half with the seeds and liquid scooped out and set aside (freeze and use in a soup), flesh finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely diced

1 onion, finely chopped

½ cup chopped coriander leaves

Juice of half a lime


Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and let sit for at least half an hour for the flavours to intermingle. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Quesadilla ideas

So you have your 8-12 pack of tortillas. Try these filling combinations

  1. Chicken and Salsa:  one mozzarella pear shredded – 4 poached, pan friend or roasted chicken thighs finely shredded – one quantity of salsa
  2. Blackbean, Avocado and Salsa: one mozzarella pear shredded – 1 cup of cooked black beans, mashed into a rough paste – one quantity of salsa – 2 avocados, mashed with the juice of one lemon (or proper guacamole if you must)
  3. Cheese and Ham: one cup shredded mozzarella – 1 cup grated tasty cheese – 10 thin slices of leg ham – one quantity of salsa
  4. Pumpkin and Spinach: one mozzarella pear shredded – half a butternut pumpkin finely sliced and roasted – 1/4 pickled jalapeno chillies – one quantity of salsa – 2 cups baby spinach leaves
  5. Pulled Pork and Avocado:  one mozzarella pear shredded – 1 1/2 cups of pulled pork – one quantity of salsa – 2 avocados mashed with the juice of one lemon
  6. Cheesy Corn: one mozzarella pear shredded – 2 cobs of corn, corn removed from cob and lightly pan fried – one quantity of salsa (as pictured!).

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