May 5, 2010

Grown Up Quesadillas for Cinco de Mayo

More Cinco de Mayo fun this week...a recipe for grown-up quesadillas.  I'll come clean right off and admit that for a quick lunch my favorite way to make quesadillas is to load a tortilla with pepper jack and dab on some salsa.  Lay the tortilla in a frying pan and when the cheese just starts to melt, fold in half, brown on both sides.  It's quick.  It's easy.  It's made with ingredients I always have.  And most important--it's good.

But sometimes I want something more sophisticated and that's where these Roasted Red Pepper and Cumin Quesadillas come in.  They are more "grown up" than our every day quesadillas (just an expression...we don't eat quesadillas every day).  But The Boy eats them too, so I wouldn't say that they don't appeal to kids.

A few notes:
* I make a batch using about 4-5 cups of cheese, which gives us several meals.  The cheese filling keeps well in the fridge for 3-4 days as long as the onion/pepper mixture isn't soggy when you add it to the cheese.

* I prefer to use pepper jack, but any cheese you have on hand can be used, or even a mixture of cheese like I used below.

* I like the tangy flavor pickled jalapenos give to the mixture--it adds another dimension.  But fresh jalapeno could also be used, or left out.

Mise en place for Roasted Red Pepper & Cumin Quesadillas: olive oil, onion, roasted red pepper, jalapeno, green onions (optional), parsley (optional), cumin, oregano, salt and pepper (not pictured), tortillas, cheese

The first step is roasting the pepper (click for step by step).  But lately, jarred roasted peppers cost less than fresh peppers.  Price check before deciding which to buy. 
Besides, I'm feeling lazy today.  I'm glad I had jarred peppers.

Next, heat olive oil in a skillet.  Saute the onion until it is browned in spots.  Then add the chopped red pepper and jalapeno.  Saute this mixture until there is no liquid left.  Don't want the cheese to get soggy.

While the onion mixture cooks, mix cumin, oregano, parsley, and green onion with the cheese.  I find my hands work best.  And I've also found that it's better to mix the seasonings in before adding the onion mixture.
The green onion and parsley are really just lagnaippe (is there a Spanish term for that?).  I use them if I have them; I don't buy them specifically for this recipe.

Let the onion mixture cool completely before adding it to the cheese.  While you wait, you could whip up a batch of homemade tortillas.
Oh, they are so good!

But remember, I'm lazy today.  I went with store bought tortillas.
Lay the tortillas out on a flat surface and top with the cheese mixture.

I used to melt some butter in a skillet, slap down a tortilla and get to work.  The butter causes the tortillas to get nice and brown and crunchy on the outside.  I've been skipping the butter though.  And it still tastes great.

Once the cheese starts to melt, fold the tortilla in half.  Keep in the pan until both sides have browned.

Cut into wedges and enjoy.

Roasted Red Pepper and Cumin Quesadillas
from Ms. en Place

1-2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded, chopped
1-2 tsp olive oil
½ onion, chopped
3 pickled jalapeño peppers or 2 if using Pepper Jack cheese, chopped
4-5 cups grated cheese (pepper jack, Monterey jack or a mix of whatever you have)
1 tsp ground cumin
salt and black pepper, to taste
2 pinches dried oregano
green onions and/or parsley (optional)
butter (optional)
1 large pack taco size flour tortillas

Roast a bell pepper over stove burner, on a gas grill, or under the broiler until skin blisters and blackens. Place pepper in a plastic bag to steam off skin. When cool enough to handle, peel, seed, and chop. OR use jarred roasted red peppers if more cost effective and to save time.

Heat olive oil in a skillet and sauté onion until tender and browned in spots. Add the chopped roasted red pepper and jalapeno to the onions and continue to sauté until the mixture is dry. Set mixture aside to cool completely.

While onions cook or while you are waiting for the mixture to cool, mix cumin, oregano, salt and pepper to taste, and green onion or parsley, if desired with the cheese. Combine well.

Add the cooled onion-pepper mixture to the cheese and combine well. This will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days as long as the onion mixture was had no excess liquid.

Lay out tortillas on countertop. Sprinkle cheese mixture over the surface of each tortilla, leaving a slight margin bare. If desired, melt a small amount of butter in a skillet. Place one cheese-topped tortilla in a heated pan (med. heat). When the cheese just starts to melt, fold the tortilla in half. Press gently to seal. Flip tortilla to get even browning on both sides. Remove from pan once the cheese melts completely and the tortilla has browned a bit. Keep warm. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Cut each tortilla in wedges and serve immediately.


  1. Those darn pesky red peppers have been so expensive lately. I think you're the second or third blogger that has said that jarred roasted bell peppers were less expensive. Sounds good to me - less work and all! I think it's awesome that your son eats these. I'd never get my daughter anywhere near a bell or jalapeno pepper. She's way too picky.
    Love the quesadillas! I think it's definitely a great idea to make up a batch and then just grab one. Gonna have to check out your link to homemade tortillas. I tried making them once, years ago, and they didn't turn out. It would be awesome to have some homemade. Happy Cinco De Mayo

  2. I love cheese, red peppers and cumin....these quesadillas sound wonderful. I hadn't noticed the price of red peppers lately, but I always have a jar around...they are handy...and if they are cheaper, even better!


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