¡Ay Caramba! The Versatility of the Quesadilla

¡Ay Caramba! The Versatility of the Quesadilla

Living and cooking in the woods for most of the month of August reminded me of how simple, tasty, and nutritious a quesadilla or burrito can be.  Since my stove is pretty comparable to what we were cooking on in the woods, I have been trying new, hearty combinations that have kept me filled up after lunch or dinner.  Granted, not everyone has a stove, but no worries! Perhaps you could pick up some frozen burritos (such as Amy’s Organic or Trader Joe’s Beans and Rice) and store them in the freezer.  When you are ready to have one, all you need to do is pop in the microwave.

For those of you who have access to a stove, all you need are a few staples to make the perfect quesadilla or burrito:

  • Tortillas: I prefer the taco size, but also recommend the whole-wheat tortillas from Trader Joe’s.  If you want to try something new, pick up the Trader Joe’s Brown Rice tortillas.  They’re gluten-free and work well with any combination because they are a bit crispier than the average tortilla.
  • Beans: I always use Trader Joe’s Black Beans.  It is easier to digest them if you rinse them in a colander with water before you add them to your quesadilla.
  • Rice: You can really use whatever rice you have, but I find that the Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Packets are really convenient because you can heat them up in the microwave and store them in the freezer.
  • Salsa: Mild, medium, or spicy-you name it, and it will be good on your quesadilla.  If you want to try something new, pick up the Trader Joe’s Corn and Chile salsa.  It’s divine.
  • Cheese: Cheddar, monteray jack, pepper jack, slice a few pieces up to hold your quesadilla together!

Great! So now that you have your staples, you have everything you need to make the perfect quesadilla.  But if you want to add these optional things, feel free to do so:

  • Meat: Chicken or ground beef would go well if you are not a vegetarian.  You might find yourself using less than you normally would because the beans and rice are already good sources of protein that will fill you up.
  • Green peppers and onions: throw them in the skillet to heat them up and then add them to your quesadilla.  They really enhance the flavors and crunch.
  • Avocado: Who doesn’t love homemade guac? If you have the things on hand to throw it together (lemon/lime juice, salt, pepper, garlic), by all means, do so! However, if you just want to slice a plain avocado or mash it and add it to the quesadilla, that would be good too.  You can’t go wrong.

So now that you have all of your ingredients, it’s time to heat up the skillet and start crafting your meal.  This is the best way I’ve found to prep, but you can experiment with what works best for you:

  • Prepare the meat, sauté any veggies, and heat up rice and beans.
  • Heat one tortilla in the microwave (between damp paper towels) or on the stove for a few minutes.
  • Fold the tortilla in half-add cheese to the bottom, then add filling, and then add more cheese.
  • Leave on the skillet for a few minutes, flip, then you’ll be golden.

Besides being a balanced, filling meal, the quesadilla will pack quite a nutritional punch.  Brown rice also contains B-vitamins and beans contain manganese and copper, which maintains iron levels.  Rice and beans together form a complete protein.  If you choose to add avocado, you will boost your body’s ability to absorb fat-soluble nutrients.