Mei making dumplings


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Irene making dumplings
A Zero-Food-Waste Quesadilla
you can put anything in a quesadilla

Or at least anything savory, if you're going to get picky about it. I try to keep some kind of tortillas (corn, flour, or both) in the house at all times because they're a great fallback option when you don't have a dinner plan. Usually, something can be scrounged up from the kitchen to make a quesadilla - pretty much any veggie, leftover meat, whatever cheese we have around, eggs, etc. 

Let's talk large flour tortillas here and save the small taco tortillas for another post. I typically fold one large flour tortilla in half for kids, and adults if we've got other side dishes. If I'm starving though, I have been known to consume two large tortillas with all the stuff sandwiched in between  - no judgment. I ate the entire quesadilla pictured above and felt excellent about my choices. 

The Rough Recipe

Quesadillas scale very easily to feed as many people as you need, and you should be able to have dinner on the table in less than 20 minutes if you have leftovers or cooked ingredients in the fridge.

Here's what you'll need:

  • a large skillet (I like cast-iron)
  • Neutral oil
  • 1 or 2 flour quesadillas per person
  • A handful of shredded cheese per person - cheddar, mozzarella, monterey jack, whatever you have around. Sliced cheese works too. 

After that - it's up to you! Scan your fridge and pantry and see what needs to be used up. A few options include the following:

  • Something quick-cooking and leafy, like spinach or arugula, or leftover cooked greens. The quesadilla pictured above used up the rest of my leftover Stir-Fried Greens. 
  • Something you can easily saute in a bit of olive oil or toss on the grill for a few minutes, like sliced bell peppers and summer squash, as pictured above. You could also use corn, mushrooms, zucchini, asparagus, or fennel or another Stem, Stalk, Bud or Flower
  • Anything you like to eat raw like tomatoes or avocado - fresh herbs like cilantro are nice here too
  • Something already cooked like roasted sweet potatoes or winter squash or lentils or eggplant
  • Something canned like chickpeas or black beans
  • Leftover cooked meat, or cured meat like sliced turkey or salami or bacon
  • Any pickled veggies you might have in the fridge - or make Right-This-Minute pickles while you cook the quesadillas. 
  • Eggs are always good - fried, scrambled any way you like them

Gather your ingredients - this is one of those recipes where you want your mise en place, which is French chef-speak for having all your ingredients prepped and ready-to-go. If anything needs to be cooked, do that first, sauteing quick-cooking vegetables in a splash of olive oil and sprinkling with salt. If you are using cold meat or cooked veggies in the fridge, add those too just to warm them up. Transfer everything to a bowl and wipe the pan.  

Heat a thin film of neutral oil in the pan, place a tortilla inside and sprinkle cheese on top, then add your filling ingredients of choice. If you're making half-size quesadillas, put the fillings on half the tortilla, then fold the other half on top. Let the cheese melt, then flip when the bottom is browned and crispy, about 2 minutes. If you're making full-size quesadillas, sprinkle cheese and ingredients on the whole tortilla, then put another tortilla on top and carefully flip once the bottom is browned. 

Serve on their own, or with salsa and sour cream, a squeeze of lime, fresh herbs, some Creamy Green Dip or whatever you've got around. 



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