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Quintessential Quesadilla's

Quintessential Quesadilla's

The quesadilla -- it's not just a prelude to a Mexican meal; it's now a great beginning to a healthier, lighter sandwich. The possibilities are endless and go far, far beyond the traditional chicken, beans and cheese!

Quesadilla's are great for a quick, nutritious meal. Spread flour tortillas with something fresh and new. For example, you could make a Reuben inspired quesadilla. Simply use turkey pastrami, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and light Thousand Island dressing. For a Mediterranean flavor, wrap the tortilla around a mixture of tapenade, nuts and Parmesan cheese.

There is one mandatory ingredient for a quesadilla, and that is cheese (preferably light or non-fat if watching your fat and caloric intake). Cheese melts and holds the meal together.

Quintessential Quesadilla's Keep tortillas on hand for quick and easy-to-make meals. On rushed nights, create a meal with what you have in your refrigerator, such as sliced deli chicken or turkey breast, lean ham, etc., and add diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce and Cheddar cheese. Quesadillas also are practical ways to use such leftovers and roasted chicken or grilled vegetables.

To make a quesadilla, spread a medium to large tortilla with a thin layer of ingredients, such as cooked meat, vegetables, fruits, beans or rice. Sprinkle with shredded cheese, or spread with soft cheese such as ricotta or cream cheese. For variety, try different kinds of tortillas, such as spinach, or tomato-flavored, whole wheat or corn.

Next, fold the tortilla in half and cook briefly under a broiler, on a skillet or in a saute pan. Or make it as you would a sandwich, stacking another tortilla on top of the filling. Cook long enough to melt the cheese and warm the filling, but stop before the tortilla burns. About five minutes should do it. Another method calls for covering the quesadilla loosely with foil and baking until heated through, about 15 minutes. Cut into strips or quarters before serving.

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Quesadilla Toppings

Try these suggestions for topping nontraditional quesadillas, both savory and sweet. Add or substitute ingredients to taste:

  • Peeled, seeded and diced papaya, chopped onion and Brie.
  • Pepperoni slices, diced bell peppers or mushrooms and mozzarella cheese.
  • Cooked shrimp, chopped cilantro, Thai peanut sauce and Monterey Jack cheese.
  • Pitted kalamata olives, smoked sausage and feta cheese.
  • Sliced deli roast beef, canned black beans and shredded Colby-Jack cheese.
  • Diced zucchini, red onion, bell pepper, tomato and Monterey Jack cheese.
  • Leftover chicken, sun-dried tomatoes and ricotta cheese.

For added flavor, sprinkle with your favorite herbs or spices, including cumin, chile, cilantro or oregano. Serve topped with tomato or fruit salsa.

For dessert, make a quesadilla with sliced strawberries and cream cheese in a chocolate-flavored tortilla.

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