Friday, March 20, 2009

Goat Cheese Quesadillas with Spicy Maple Mustard

Originally quesadillas (in Mexico, anyway) were sort of like griddle-cooked tamales. The same kind of dough (masa) used to make tamales and corn tortillas was formed into a flat round, filled with cheese, folded over and cooked until the cheese melted and the masa was no longer raw. Modern and regional variations use flour tortillas instead, but the concept is still the same: A proper quesadilla is cooked on a flat griddle called a comal, and it's in a half-moon shape.

And here's why I don't do that. It's a pain. It's a lot of maneuvering of hot, cheese-filled things. So I do what many other cooks (at least in this country) have chosen to do, and that is put the cheese filling between two tortillas and bake them until the cheese melts.

Of course if you feel an attack of authenticity coming on, then you can always get yourself a comal and make a proper quesadilla. The comal shown here runs about $10 or less. And since comals are basically cast-iron skillets with very low sides, you can use a skillet you already have or a pancake griddle. You'll have to experiment with the following recipe to see how much of the filling you can manage when you're making a half-moon-style quesadilla.

Goat Cheese Quesadillas with Spicy Maple Mustard
I just used plain ol' flour tortillas for this, but there are tons of other options in the market. The other day I saw curry-flavored tortillas. I think the mild sweetness of curry spices might go nicely with these.

1/3 cup chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 large pickled jalapeño pepper, minced
8 (7-inch) flour tortillas
3/4 cup mild goat cheese (6 ounces)
1 green bell pepper, cut into very thin slivers
1 red bell pepper, cut into very thin slivers

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
2. In a small bowl, combine the cilantro, mustard, maple syrup and jalapeño.
3. Arrange 4 of the tortillas on a baking sheet and spread evenly with the mustard mixture. Sprinkle the bell peppers on top of each tortilla, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Spread the remaining tortillas with the goat cheese. Place on top of the tortillas on the baking sheet, cheese-side down.
4. Spray the top tortillas lightly with cooking spray. Bake for 10 minutes or until crispy. Cut each quesadilla into 6 wedges.

Makes 2 dozen wedges

1 comment:

  1. These were great, with lots of very assertive flavors melting together. But the sauce—wow! I ended up making an extra batch of the sauce while I had all the ingredients and utensils out. I added more maple (almost double) and jalapeno to the extra batch and will try it on the salmon I'm grilling tonight.