Quesadillas are soft corn or wheat tortillas cooked on a pan, filled with cheese and other ingredients, folded over to create what looks like a flat taco, and cut into wedges to serve with sour cream, salsa, or guacamole. Quesadillas are most often made with savoury ingredients such as meat, vegetables, cheddar cheese, and salsa, but you can also make sweet quesadillas using mascarpone or cream cheese, and fresh fruit with chocolate hazelnut sauce instead of salsa to dip them in.
Originating in Mexico as a food typically served for the Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead), traditional quesadillas use soft corn tortillas. Some places in Northern Mexico use soft flour tortillas instead of corn because of the prevalence of wheat instead of corn in that region. Both options are used today. Quesadillas gained popularity primarily in the Southwestern states where it was likened to a grilled cheese sandwich – a popular food in the United States. Favourite fillings for quesadillas include cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, shredded chicken, beef, or pork, corn, onions, peppers, and mushrooms, with the options of sour cream, salsa, and guacamole to dip it in.
With all these fillings and sauces, quesadillas can be very filling meals, but they are often served in North American restaurants as appetizers or tapas to share with a companion. These restaurants usually put a twist on the traditional quesadilla by adding unique ingredients that change the flavours of the dish. These twists can be subtle such as in Tex-Mex style food, or they can be drastic and create unique and delicious fusion dishes.
There are a few traditional Mexican meals that are related to, but are not exclusively quesadillas. One of these dishes is gringas – named for the dark spots that form on the tortillas when heated, resembling freckles on white skin. Gringas are typically made using flour tortillas, marinated pork, shredded cheese, and pineapple slices, which is grilled in the same way as a traditional quesadilla.
Another relative of the quesadilla is sincronizada, a dish often mistakenly referred to as a quesadilla because of their very close similarities. Unlike a quesadilla, which is made using a single tortilla shell folded in half and served in wedges, sincronizadas are made using two soft tortilla shells and served as a whole. The name sincronizada comes from the Spanish word for “synchronized,” referring to the two tortillas shells used to make it.
Chef Phil Anderson takes you step by step through cooking quick and easy turkey quesadillas. These are a great option for a fast weeknight dinner, a fun meal for kids, or an alternative to taking another sandwich to work for lunch again. Mix it up with your favourite ingredients or use the recipe given below.
- Olive oil
- Soft flour tortillas
- 4 oz cooked turkey, sliced into strips
- ¼ Monterey Jack Cheese
- Heat a large pan over medium heat and drizzle the pan with olive oil.
- Once the pan is warm, place a tortilla on the pan.
- Sprinkle the cheese on your tortilla being careful not to put too much.
- Place the turkey strips on one half of your tortilla.
- Reduce the temperature to low and continue to cook until cheese is melted, about 2 minutes.
- Carefully fold half of the tortilla over the turkey half. Remove from the pan and serve with salsa or your favourite Tex-Mex toppings like guacamole, sour cream, or pico de gallo. Alternatively, you can also put your toppings inside the quesadilla. Feel free to add your favourite vegetables such as corn, peppers, onions, etc. to add even more flavour.