You’d think that after working 10 or more hours per day, six days a week, I might just want to come home and crash without even thinking about making dinner but, you’d be wrong. I came home today wanting to cook; needing to cook. I didn’t know what I was about to make but I needed to clear my head, let off some steam and spend some time doing something that I enjoy.
Now, before you get the idea that I’m some sort of iron man, I’m not. I’ve been working six days a week for the past several months and it’s wearing me down, physically and mentally. My wife, who has also been putting in extra hours at work, has taken up the mantle. She’s whipped up some spectacular dinners over the last several weeks and I’ve gobbled them up eagerly. Her manicotti makes me melt like slabs of butter on warm bread!
On the occasions that we both come home exhausted, we order out. We’ve been ordering out once or twice a week during the last several months. Before the Covid-19 ordeal changed our lives, we only ordered out, or dined out, once or twice per month!
Strange times, indeed.
So…what to do for dinner? Comfort food is what I need, today. This is the end of a stressful work week and I want something that I can enjoy making as well as something that I will enjoy eating. I want to achieve a happy balance between the time it takes to make something special and making something that can be prepared quickly.
Quesadillas can be made in as little as two minutes. Toss some grated cheese onto a flour tortilla and top it with another tortilla and bake it in a microwave oven for less than a minute, and voilà!, it’s quesadilla time! But that’s a sad quesadilla. I want a quesadilla that satisfies!
This recipe makes 5 quesadillas, 3 with chicken and 2 with shrimp. Slice each quesadillas into thirds to make 15 triangles.
I used vegetables from the garden and other items I had on hand but quesadillas can be made from anything you like. A few tortillas and some cheese is just the beginning. Make them to suit your taste.
25 to 30 cherry tomatoes (about 1 ½ cups)
2 garlic cloves, mashed
2 green onions
1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 chile ancho, pequeña (a small, green ancho chile)
1 small red chile
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp chili powder
½ tsp Mexican oregano
½ tsp salt
¼ cup fresh spinach
7 jumbo shrimp (I used precooked shrimp)
1 lb chicken breast (about 2 chicken breasts)
8 ounces Monterrey Jack cheese
4 ounces Colby Jack cheese
1 Tbs butter
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1 cup shredded lettuce
½ cup sour cream (crème fraîche)
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves
14 6” flour tortillas
Let’s make a zesty sauce!
Add the cherry tomatoes to a large skillet. Set the heat low/medium. Add about ¼ cup of water to the pan. Top the tomatoes with one chopped green onion and garlic.
Simmer for about 20 minutes, just until the tomatoes soften and break easily with a mixing spoon.
While the tomatoes cook, chop the bell pepper, jalapeño and other chiles. Set these aside, for now.
Add the cumin, chile powder, oregano and salt to the cooked tomatoes. Stir to combine.
Add the bell pepper, jalapeños and chiles. Turn the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent the sauce from burning.
Simmer until most of the moisture is gone from the sauce. Set the sauce aside, clean the pan and get ready to cook some chicken.
Add a few tablespoons of oil to the pan and set the heat to medium. Add the chicken breast and brown on both sides. Once the chicken develops a crispy exterior, remove the chicken to a paper towel lined plate.
Remove the tails from the precooked shrimp.
Slice the shrimp in half, lengthwise. Set aside.
Dice the chicken and set aside.
At this point, you have readied all of the ingredients for the quesadillas. Keep all of the ingredients close together to make assembly a quick process.
Clean the skillet again, unless you like using lots of pans, in that case, use a new pan.
Add a tablespoon of oil and a tablespoon of butter to the pan. Set heat to medium/low.
Assemble the quesadillas.
Lay a tortilla on a work surface and add scatter some cheese evenly across it.
Add some of the shrimp.
Add small dollops of the sauce.
Add a few spinach leaves.
Add some chopped green onion.
Finally, scatter some more cheese on top.
Cover with another tortilla and gently add the quesadilla to the skillet.
Brown the quesadilla for 30 to 40 seconds and turn, to brown the other side.
Press the quesadilla a spatula. This will compress the ingredients and help melt the cheese quickly.
Remove the quesadilla to a cutting board and cut into thirds.
Repeat the process until all of the quesadillas are prepared. I made two shrimp quesadillas and three with chicken.
Add chopped lettuce and sour cream to the center of a serving platter and arrange the sliced quesadillas around the rim.