Friday, May 25, 2012

Baked Mushroom and Zucchini Quesadillas with Cool Cilantro Lime Pesto

There is hardly a bad time for quesadillas.  They can be the all-so-necessary in-between daytime snack, or a satisfying dinner.   Typically, you’re only option is cheese.   This is where the record starts skipping.   Sure it’s simple, but you can only enjoy processed cheese for so long.  If you are lucky, maybe you will also get some chicken thrown in there too.   But do not fret!  As the greenery in the produce section diversifies and multiplies, now is the time to add vegetables to everything – even your quesadillas.  Turn the record over; we’ve got a new song to play.

For this particular batch of quesadillas I chose portabella mushrooms for their meaty taste.  Zucchini was more of a frugally driven choice.  Besides corn, it’s one of the cheapest items in produce during the summer.   Carrots or bell peppers have potential as well.  

What really sets these quesadillas apart is the cilantro lime pesto.  I know I have been on a pesto kick recently, but for good reason.  No hassle, great taste.  It’s like buying quality products for half price!  This pesto – which I served cold – gave great contrast to the taste and texture.  So if you find yourself stalling out on plain old cheese quesadillas, there is hope.  Just add pesto, and presto!  You have yourself an old tune with a new twist. 

Cilantro Lime Pesto
1 cup cilantro, chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped
Zest of one lime
Juice of one lime
Enough olive oil to reach desired texture

1.       In a blender or food processor, add all ingredients.  Blend until you have reached desired consistency. 
Makes about ¾ cup.

Mushroom and Zucchini Quesadillas
1 medium zucchini, sliced
2 cups portabella mushrooms, sliced
¼ cup olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 ½ cups Monterey, Cheddar, or Mexican blend cheese, shredded
4-6 whole wheat tortillas (depending on how you portion)
Optional: Sour cream or salsa

1.       Heat a frying pan over medium heat, until you can feel heat.  Add 2 T olive oil.
2.       Add in zucchini and mushrooms (may have to add mushrooms first, then zucchini if space does not allow both – just don’t crowd the vegetables!) Sautee for about 5-7 minutes, or until vegetables are tender but not soft.  Remove from pan.  Keep pan warm if you wish to fry your quesadilla and not bake it.
3.       Spread pesto on tortilla (or if you want to keep the pesto cold, skip this). 
4.       Layer vegetables and cheese on tortilla.  Either fry or bake your quesadilla (I did mine in the toaster oven).
5.       If you have not added the pesto, add it now.  Slice the tortilla in quarters.  Serve with sour cream salsa, more cheese, etc.

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