Quesadillas are very popular in Latin America. They originally come from colonial Mexico, but the dish evolved over time and today it exists in many different forms. Most of the time, quesadillas are served in flour or corn tortillas (a type of thin flatbread) that are made from finely ground wheat flour. They are filled with a savoury mixture, which may contain cheese, vegetables or meat. Once the tortillas are filled, they are folded into half.
Mexicans traditionally make their tortillas in a “comal”, which is a flat griddle. It is a very old kitchenware, which was originally used by the Aztecs. The word “comal” comes from the Nahuatl language, from the word “comalli”. “Comals” are generally round or oval-shaped and made from heavy cast iron. It is an important kitchenware, which is traditionally handed down from generation to generation because it is believed that the “comal” will cook better tortillas if it is tempered over many years of usage. “Comals” are also popular in the modern kitchens of Mexico.
Mexican quesadillas are typically made with partially cooked tortillas that are warmed up in the “comal” and filled with “oaxaca” cheese, a white, semi-hard cheese. Originally, the tortillas with the cheese on top are fried gently in the “comal” until the cheese melts. Cooked vegetables and / or cooked meat are then added, as well as fresh avocado or guacamole, chopped onions, chilli peppers, coriander and tomatoes. Salsas may be added as topping, too.
Tortillas are normally cooked without using oil. However, some recipes suggest that they should be fried in oil to make “quesadillas fritas”. In this version, the quesadillas are immersed into hot oil. They are deep-fried until their exterior is crispy.
The dish is extremely versatile and you can create your own version based on your personal taste. Serve the quesadillas with fresh salad, chopped onions, green or red salsa, fresh cream, and guacamole. These sides and dips give complexity to the dish.
The below quesadillas with black beans & sweet potatoes are very nutritious and healthy. The original recipe is designed by Rip Esselstyn but I made slight changes to it to suit my personal taste. I am happy to recommend either the below version or the original that can be found on the website on Forks over Knives. Try it today and enjoy a Mexican-style lunch or dinner!
- 1 large sweet potato
- 200 gram brown rice (cooked)
- 225 gram vegetarian re-fried beans
- 235 millilitre tomato sauce or pre-made salsa
- 225 gram fresh spinach
- 225 gram black beans (drained and rinsed)
- ¼ teaspoon of onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon of chilli powder
- ¼ teaspoon of cumin
- Jalapeño peppers (diced)
- 8 whole-wheat tortillas
- Preheat the oven to 180 Celsius.
- Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into quarters. Bake them on a baking tray for 45 minutes to one hour, until soft.
- In a separate pan, cook the rice according to packet instructions.
- Once the sweet potatoes are soft, remove them from the oven and place them in a mixing bowl. Mash the sweet potatoes and mix them with the tomato sauce / salsa, rice and fresh spinach.
- Place the sweet potato mash in a saucepan and mix in the black beans and the refried beans. Season with onion powder, chilli powder and cumin. Mix well and heat the mixture over medium heat.
- Fry both sides of the tortillas gently in a frying pan.
- Fill tortillas with the mixture and fold them in half to form a half-moon shape.
- Serve immediately with side dishes including salads, onions and dips.