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January 22, 2010

…It’s…like a Mexican pizza, but with another base on top? Basically, quesadillas (pronounced “kay-se-dee-yas) involve getting a tortilla, and sprinkling it with cheese, beans, and other vegetables (I used corn off the cob and some leftover home made tomato and onion and garlic sauce). Top it with another tortilla, and bake for 5-10 mins until the cheese is melty. Then you cut it up like a pizza and serve it in wedges. Like vegetarian nachos in pizza form maybe.

They’re super easy and versatile in any case, with crunchy, soft, oozy, textured goodness. Mine were made with home made wholemeal tortillas, corn off the cob, home made tomato, onion and garlic sauce, red kidney beans, flat parsley, cumin, and grated cheese. However, you can make the process as hard or as easy as you like, as healthy or not as you want, but however you customise them, they’re a very achievable meal to put on the table. Even cooking everything from scratch, I had a meal for two done in an hour and a half (I cooked the beans in advance though).


Tortillas – make mini sized ones yourself (and go healthy with wholegrains) (about 40 mins to make 12×6″ ones) or just buy them.

Corn – steam some fresh corn (hey, it’s cheap and in season at the moment) and run a sturdy knife down the sides to take the corn off (10 mins) or use frozen or canned corn.

Beans – simmer your favourite kind of bean (soaked overnight) for about 2 hours, or use canned beans.

Vegetables – Fry up some onions and garlic (5 mins), add a can of tomato puree and cook down on low heat in a frypan until thickened to your liking (about half an hour).

You can also use leftover filling and tortillas the next day for a fast lunch (or take leftover ready made ones to work/uni for lunch, but I prefer them hot). But if this is your first time and you really want a recipe, I’m here for you. The first time I made these I used a recipe from The Press, and I followed the recipe very exactly. This time around I just went with my instincts on quantity, because it doesn’t really matter if you have leftover filling (make a sandwich) or tortillas (make a pizza, or cut into wedges and bake for 5-10 mins until crunchy for chips).

Basic quesadillas

Makes 6×6″ filled quesadillas, enough to feed about 3.

Wholemeal tortillas from scratch (ignore if using bought tortillas)courtesy of Shiny Cooking

2c flour
3Tbs oil
1/2 tsp salt
2/3c warm water

Mix flour, salt and oil until well combined. Add water, and mix with hands until you get a soft dough. You may need to add 1/4 – 1/2 c more flour if it sticks to your hands a lot. Knead until smooth. Roll into a long snake and divide into 12 equal sized portions (or you can make bigger ones, but make an even number). Cover with a clean cloth and let sit for 20 minutes. Make your filling in this time.

Once rested, heat a pan (ungreased) on medium heat. Squish a dough portion and roll out until very thin (less than 2mm) and about 6″ in diameter. Place tortilla in the hot pan until it does this:

But not this:


Flip your tortilla (should only take a minute for those bubbles to appear). It should look sort of like this:

If there are translucent brown uncooked looking bits in between the spots (which should be a pleasant, unburnt looking brown), turn your heat down a notch and let the tortillas cook for longer on each side. Let the other side cook for about a minute (you can check the underside if you want), remove from the pan, plate, and cover with a clean tea towel. While the tortillas cook, you can roll out the rest of the dough rounds. Repeat until you’re out of dough. There. Wasn’t difficult at all.


2 cobs of corn or a can of corn (not creamed) or equivalent amount frozen and defrosted
1 can of your favourite beans (around 400g) or equivalent pre-cooked on low heat for about 2 hours with a pinch of salt
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbs oil
about 2c grated cheese (omit for vegans)
1 can pureed tomatoes (see instructions for how this enters the equation)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
some chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
pinch paprika and cayenne or chilli powder
diced button mushrooms

For corn off the cob: Remove green husks from corn. Snap each cob in half, place in a bowl. Fill a saucepan large enough to fit this bowl with about 2cm of water, place the bowl of corn in the saucepan, cover. Place on high heat. Once boiling and the lid starts rattling or releasing steam, lower heat to medium and set a timer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, turn off heat, remove lid, and let sit until warm enough to touch. Then for each cob run a sturdy knife down the cob to remove the corn.

For onions and garlic: Heat oil on medium heat in a frypan, add onions, cook until flecks of gold appear. Add garlic, cook another minute, remove from heat.

For tomato, onion and garlic sauce: In the above, do not remove from heat. Add a can of pureed tomatoes to the frypan and lower the heat. Let the sauce barely simmer until thickened to a sauce that sort of keeps its shape once prodded.

Once all the bits and bobs are assembled, mix them all up.

Assembling (the funnestest bit!)

Preheat oven to 200C (400F). Place 4 tortillas on a baking tray. Sprinkle with cheese, spread filling evenly (about 1.5cm thick), leaving a border. Sprinkle with cheese again. Top each with another tortilla, pressing down to compact all the filling. Place on the top rack in your oven for about 5-10 mins, or until cheese is melted throughout. Remove from oven, cut into quarters, and serve. OMnomNOM. Let me know your favourite fillings too!

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