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Murali Saravanan

April 6, 2020

Somewhat Sober | A Guide to Quesadillas

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Many of us are now cooking much more often than before, and I figured this week I’d give you guys a short, little guide to making delicious quesadillas. Quesadillas are super versatile, and you can basically eat them at any point in the day: lunch, dinner, late night snack, or even breakfast! (If burritos can be a breakfast thing so can quesadillas.) Instead of giving you all a single recipe, I figured I would tell you how I approach quesadilla making. This template will allow you to build your own masterpiece.

There are three components to making an excellent quesadilla.

The Cheese

The cheese is obviously the signature ingredient in quesadilla making, after the tortilla of course. Speaking of tortillas, I would recommend a larger flour tortilla for quesadillas. We could get into a great debate of flour vs corn tortillas, but I won’t do that here. Here’s a great video from one of my favorite food youtubers about it though!

I personally use a one-to-one blend of Monterey Jack to Extra Sharp Cheddar in my quesadillas; Monterey Jack for the melting factor and cheddar for the flavor. The cheese is vital! Not only does it taste really good, it acts as the glue between the tortilla and the other fillings. Play around with your own blends and find out what you personally like. I would in general stay away from pre-grated cheese from the store though. These bags of cheese usually contain an anti-caking agent, like potato starch, that’ll mess with the flavor of your cheese. Personally, I just buy a block of cheese and use my box grater to grate however much I need.

Murali Saravanan

Murali Saravanan

The Sauce

This is an idea that I stole from Taco Bell actually. If you ever get a quesadilla from there, they have a jalapeno-based sauce that they add. I’m a big fan of adding a thin layer of some kinda sauce as it balances out the dryness that some quesadillas can have as well as being a general flavor bomb. If you’re not a fan of this, you can always just keep some on the side as a dipping sauce.

For a long time, my go-to sauce was just homemade Sriracha mayo, made with a two-to-one ratio of American mayo to Sriracha. But lately, I’ve switched to using Kewpie, a Japanese mayo brand that’s a little tangier. I’ve also subbed Sriracha with an appropriate amount of Cholula’s chipotle hot sauce. Feel free to experiment, though! Try some combinations and make your own sauce. And let me know what you like and don’t like; I’m always looking for new ideas.

Murali Saravanan

Murali Saravanan

The Filling

This is where you get to be as creative as you want. Maybe your fillings are just the empty set and you don’t add anything else other than the cheese. Or you could go a classic fajita route and add some kind of grilled meat with sauteed bell peppers and onions. Maybe you’re making a breakfast quesadilla, so you add some scrambled eggs. I like to just look in my fridge and just grab an interesting combination of ingredients. This time I caramelized some onions, added some Shishito peppers and heated up some leftover steak from a dinner I made a few days ago. Boom, toss that bad boy on the griddle and you got yourself a delicious meal.

Building the Quesadilla

Okay, you got your components, now what? Start with a cold pan, and oil it up (just a little bit). Slap your first tortilla on to the pan and spread a thin layer of your sauce. Then, add a nice thick layer of your cheese blend and finish it off with your toppings. Slap the other tortilla on and put the pan on low heat. I like to cover the pan to encourage the cheese to melt a little faster. Now, don’t go running away from the pan! There’s nothing worse than a burnt tortilla so just take it nice and slow. After one side is golden-brown and delicious, flip that puppy over and GBD the other side. And there you go — a delicious quesadilla.

Make sure you cut it into triangles. Food should be cut into triangles whenever possible since triangles fit better in your mouth. That’s just science. Serve with sour cream, guac and salsa if you have it. In a pinch, plain greek yogurt can be used as a substitute for sour cream, which is exactly what I did. Sadly, I also didn’t have any avocados to make guac. I have yet to find a substitute for avocados, but if you have one please email me. Instead, I had some pickled onions; the acidity contrasted beautifully with the richness of the quesadillas. Speaking of pickled onions, you should totally make some at home! Very easy and delicious, here’s a simple recipe.

I hope this guide is helpful in some way for your own quesadilla-making adventures. Please let me know how it goes and have fun with it!

Murali Saravanan is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at msaravanan@cornellsun.comSomewhat Sober runs periodically this semester.