Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Vegetable and Feta Quesadillas


Quesadillas are to Mexico what the grilled cheese sandwich is to America. In Mexico, quesadillas are typically filled with melted Oaxaca cheese, a white, semi-soft cow's milk cheese named after the Southern state in Mexico where it was first produced. I have used a goat's milk feta in this quesadilla because I love the salty, tangy bursts of flavor it adds. These quesadillas are more delicate because they don't have melted cheese binding them together. 

Guessing where these quesadillas would fall in the Mexican food spectrum (TexMex, Southwest, Baja-style, etc.), my vote goes to vegetarian MexiGreek. This recipe combines a colorful assortment of vegetables with a salty feta on a whole grain tortilla. I used a tortilla with flax seeds in the picture. Toasting the quesadilla in a little oil makes the tortilla wonderfully crisp, so don't skip this step.

One of the things I love about making quesadillas is the endless flavor combinations. I always keep tortillas on hand, either wheat or corn. I keep an open mind when filling quesadillas. Vegetables, whether fresh or pickled, herbs, canned beans, cheeses, seafood and meat are all fair game - not to mention sweet fillings, but dessert quesadillas are a posting for another day. This vegetable quesadilla is a favorite.

Ingredients
8 ounces of mushrooms, sliced
1 zucchini, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon + 2 1/2 teaspoons safflower oil
Small bunch cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
10 tablespoons goat's milk feta cheese
Black pepper, to taste
10 7-inch whole grain tortillas

Over medium, heat one tablespoon of oil in a large skillet. Add the mushrooms, zucchini, bell pepper, onion and garlic to the skillet; sauté for 5-7 minutes to cook most of the water out of the vegetables. Remove from skillet and set aside. Rinse skillet and wipe with a towel to dry.

Assemble the quesadillas. On a cutting board or plate, use a slotted spoon to scoop and arrange vegetable mixture over half of the tortilla. Using a slotted spoon will allow residual water to drain from the vegetables so the tortilla doesn't get soggy. Top the mixture with about one tablespoon of cilantro, a few twists of freshly cracked black pepper and about one tablespoon of cheese. A little feta goes a long way. Fold the uncovered half over the filled half.

Over medium heat, warm 1/2 teaspoon oil in the same skillet. Place two of the quesadillas in the skillet and heat for 1-2 minutes per side or until lightly browned. Use a long spatula to gently press down and flip the quesadillas. Serve immediately.

Makes 10 quesadillas.

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