I used basil in my little tomato salsa, but it should have coriander – it’s pretty much essential. The village greengrocer however didn’t have any in. Please use coriander if you can. Like most of these types of Mexican / South American inspired dishes, it’s the sides that make it; I wouldn’t bother eating quesadillas without guacamole, a salsa of some description, or sour cream to eat alongside. I would describe the sides as essential in fact! What isn’t essential though, is cooking the peppers with a spice mix. I just did that for an extra but of flavour. A Cajun spice mix or similar would be just as good – or nothing at all.
Serves: 3/4 adults (or 2 adults and 2 kids)
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes
6 large, soft, white tortillas
250g mature cheddar, grated
3 peppers, red, green and yellow, sliced into chunky strips
Spice mix (optional):
1 tablespoon of coriander seeds, crushed
1 tablespoon of cumin seeds, crushed
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon of salt
Handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
Handful of coriander chopped (I used basil here as I couldn’t get any coriander)
Squeeze of lime
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
Pinch of sugar
2 avocados, mashed chunkily
Pinch of salt
Squeeze of lime
- First, with a large heavy bottomed frying pan and a little oil, crisp up 2 tortillas (these will make the middle layers of the 2 quesadillas). Fry them for about 4/5 minutes on each side so they have a little colour and are crispier. Set aside.
- In another pan start frying off the peppers simultaneously. Grind the spices in a pestle and mortar and toss in with them to flavour. Soften over a low to medium heat for about 30 minutes.
- Make your salsa: simply mix all the ingredients together and set aside. Don’t make your guacamole until the last minute, to avoid any browning.
- When your peppers are ready and you have your middle layers ready too, you can grate your cheese and start to make your quesadillas. Put one tortilla down in a lightly oiled pan, sprinkle a quarter of the cheese over and a quarter of the peppers, add the middle layer and repeat on top of it (another quarter of cheese and same of peppers), add the top layer of the tortilla and weight it down with a plate. Let it fry, and the cheese inside melt, for about 10-12 minutes.
- Now, the flip. Using a towel, with a protected hand holding the plate, carefully turn the pan upside down (watch for any hot grease which may burn). It will turn out onto the plate, cooked side up. Slide it back into the pan, uncooked side down. Give it another 10-12 minutes.
- Time for the guacamole: scoop out avocados, mash a little, mix with salt and lime.
- To serve, simply slice up quesadillas, and place all accompaniments on a big board for people to help themselves. Drink cold beer with lime alongside!