Let’s face it: quesadillas are all kinds of messy. Which is why they’re the perfect candidate for skillet containment.
You could bake your quesadillas on a baking sheet. Sure, you could do that.
But let’s just sit for a spell, talking of skillets, and then see if you want to bust out that baking sheet. We’ll see…
We all know that there are 3 keys to perfect quesadilla construction:
1. Tortilla crispiness.
2. Stuffing flavoriness.
3. Cheese meltiness.
Here’s how I hit the trifecta with my skillet:
1. Sauté some luscious springtime vegetables in said skillet until they are tender and smelly in all the right ways.
2. Remove lovely cooked vegetables and carefully begin quesadilla assembly by lining the same skillet with a fresh tortilla.
2a. Yeah, I said it. You’re going to fry your quesadilla in the remains of your luscious springtime vegetables. Goodness on the inside and goodness on the outside. I’d like to see you try that, baking sheets.
3. Top your tortilla with your luscious stuffing, a gob and a half (technical term) of cheese, and one last tortilla, return your skillet to your stovetop, and watch the magic happen.
Quesadilla perfection: achieved.
I should mention that I use a sharp knife to carefully slice my quesadilla into quarters as it cooks: if you can flip a whole 10″ quesadilla without disaster ensuing then you are a better person than me.
Which is another way of saying that this method of preparing quesadillas yields a substantive single quesadilla that you can serve in crisped wedges; it’s actually a lovely meal for two!
So give your skillet a big fat kiss (please allow for cooling) – it just yielded tonight’s dinner! With delicious goodness on the inside and the outside! My hero!
Spring Pea Skillet Quesadillas
1 lb. English peas, still in their shells (see note below regarding preparation and substitutions)
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 large leek, ends removed, chopped
1 bunch green onions, ends removed, chopped
1 tsp. garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper, freshly ground
2 large 9-10″ flour tortillas
1 c. Oaxaca cheese, shredded (Shredded mozzarella cheese may easily be substituted here. Note that as I mentioned above, when melted cheese is an important part of a recipe, as it is here, I strongly recommend shredding the cheese yourself. I think you’ll find, as I do, that hand-shredded cheese melts much more easily and evenly than cheese that is purchased pre-shredded.)
1 c. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
To prepare your peas, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Break the ends off the shells, peel open, and gently scrape out the peas. Note that I opted to use fresh English peas still in their shells in this recipe, but you could easily use English peas that have already been shelled or even plain canned or frozen green peas. One pound of English peas in their shells generally yields approximately one cup of peas. Place the shelled peas into the boiling water and cook until tender and bright green, approximately 5-10 minutes depending on how mature your peas are. Remove, drain and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a 10″ skillet, preferably cast iron, over a medium flame. Add the leeks and green onions and sauté, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, pepper and peas and sauté for just 2 minutes more. Remove pan from heat and remove sautéed mixture to a large bowl. Toss the cheese together in another large bowl. Carefully line your skillet with one tortilla and top with an even layer of approximately half of the cheese. Spread the cooked vegetables in an even layer on top of the cheese, then top with the remaining cheese. Finish with the second tortilla and return to heat, again cooking over a medium flame.
As the quesadilla cooks, carefully use a sharp knife to cut it cleanly into quarters. Cook for 5 minutes, flip each piece and cook for just 2-3 minutes more. Finished quesadillas will be browned with the cheese melted through. Remove and serve immediately.
YIELD: approximately 2 servings