Culinary Q

Q as in "cue" as in "to prompt." A recipe is only the beginning…

Anything Goes Quesadilla Casserole

Talk about easy – and, if ingredients are chosen  with a bit of thought, healthier than one would think.  And really tasty, too!

Just look at this:

final quesedilla plate

This was SOOOOO good....and easy to make!

Note: Click  HERE for my guacamole recipe.

This was my second time making quesadillas – both times as a baked casserole with layers of flat tortillas rather than folding the tortillas in the traditional manner.   For cookware, I used glass pie plates and made enough filling for  two “casserole/pies.”

Here is a basic outline of ingredients:

  • Olive, canola, or other vegetable oil or spray as needed for sauteing and “greasing” pans.
  • 1-2 cups veggies – For example, I used onion, ½ green pepper, 1 smallish carrot, and 2 cloves if garlic
  • 1 or 2 fresh chili peppers (I used 2 salsa chilies from my bedroom “garden,” one green and one more ripe and thus red.)  OR, red pepper flakes or cayenne, to taste.  Maybe start with 1/2 teaspoon? Depends on your taste and how hot your chili power or taco seasoning is.
  • 2-3 cups of any combo or just one: poultry, beef, pork, beans.  Any meat should be ground or, if using leftover cooked poultry or meat, shredded. I used 1/2 lb ground beef and a cup of kidney beans, both of which I found in the freezer.  🙂
  • 3 or so cups grated cheese, divided.  Your choice of cheese(s).  (I used mostly sharp cheddar with some smoked cheddar this time.  Smoked Gouda is really good in quesadillas, too!)
  • Salsa, as needed or desired.

And, here’s how you do it:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Chop veggies, including any fresh chilies, and saute in olive or canola oil until somewhat tender, then remove from pan.  (If using dried red pepper flakes, include them here with the fresh veggies.)
  3. If starting with raw meat or poultry, add to pan and cook before adding other ingredients. Then, combine any meat, poultry, and or beans with the package (or homemade equivalent) of taco seasoning, and 1/2 cup or so of water.
  4. Heat until thickened.

To assemble a pie:

  1. Lightly grease pie plate.
  2. Place a tortilla in the pie plate and spread a little sauce on it, flip over, and repeat.
  3. Cover with some meat/veggie mix, sprinkle with cheese, and to with dots of salsa to taste.
  4. Place another tortilla on the pie and repeat layers.
  5. Top with one more tortilla and cover with a light coating of sauce and cheese.
  6. Pop in the oven and check after 20 minutes. If it is bubbling and toasty brown on top, it’s done!

Serving suggestion: As show in the picture at the beginning of this post, serve with salsa, guacamole, and sour cream (or yogurt).

First the veggies - oops! I took this before adding the chilies.

Cooked ground beef, beans, and veggies before adding taco seasoning

Lightly coat both sides of bottom tortilla with sauce

Add the meat/veggie/bean mix

Sprinkle with some cheese

Dot first layer with salsa to taste

add another tortilla and coat with more sauce

Add another tortilla and coat the top with sauce

then more veggies...

Then more cheese...

top off with a tortilla, with a bit of sauce and cheese to cover

I didn’t remember to take a picture of the the fully assembled pies until after they were the oven for a minute or two.

As shown, I used the top oven of my new dual-oven, five-burner gas range.  🙂  For those wondering, it is a Maytag Gemini.  Pricey for home cooking, but a reasonable deal if you want some features approaching the  professional level (I love the 16,000 BTU burner!)  at a relatively modest price.

But, I digress.  Once the quesadilla casserole (or pie) is done, you can leave it in a warm oven (170 degrees works well) until you are ready to eat.   And, it reheats wonderfully, which is why I always make enough for a few meals.

The best thing about quesadillas, though, is that you really can’t go wrong.  Whether you just use cheese in a folded tortilla that you heat in a frying pan, or compile a complex, multi-layered creation, it is all good.  And, you  can stretch your dollar by using more or all veggies and/or beans, and reduce calories by using low-fat cheese and accompany with low fat sour cream or yogurt. And, for you non-lacto vegetarians,  just use soy cheese and “yogurt.”

Now I am going to have start  experimenting with homemade salsa recipes.  Can you believe I have never made my own salsa?  One of these days…  🙂

I’ll leave you with an offering of food art:

Just a fun shot of the salsa chilies and some guacamole ingredients

Salsa chili peppers from our indoor plants and two guacamole ingredients

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This entry was posted on 02/19/2010 by in Appetizer, Beef, Entree, Food Art.
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