There are so many foods I love, so many dishes that I count among my favorite, but when it comes to cooking each night, I tend to stick to the same few things: chicken and fish.  And hardly stray from how I prepare them.  But there are times I try to mix it up, noting that delicious meals that are simple to make aren’t always easy to come by, but they do exist.  This simple, hearty quesadilla dinner is chock full of veggies and flavor and is quick to prepare and even more effortless to devour.  And the best part about quesadillas is that you can customize them any way you want.  You can add shrimp or just stick with vegetables.  You can toss in your favorite cheeses.  The possibilities are endless, making them that much more fun to create.

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Just like my favorite go-to guacamole recipe found here, I have tinkered with different quesadilla ingredients and instructions over the years, changing and adapting the fill-ins and measurements and have settled on a few combinations that I like the most.  This one is filling enough that I make it as a meal, but you can always serve with homemade or store-bought tortilla soup or a side of chips and guacamole (like this one here) or choose to serve these as an appetizer.

quesadillas close up

Ingredients:

  • 1 small yellow bell peper
  • 1 small red bell pepper
  • 1 small green bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground pepper, divided
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter for mushroom preparation
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons butter for cooking the quesadillas
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked and shredded chicken (see the notes section for instructions)
  • 1/3 cup BBQ sauce (see the notes section for my favorite)
  • 2 cups fresh arugula
  • 5 ounces sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 2-2 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar (depending on how cheesy you like yours)
  • 2-2 1/2 cups shredded combination of mild cheddar and monterey jack (depending on how cheesy you like yours)
  • 5 large flour tortillas

quesadillas 2

Instructions:

1.     Prep the peppers:  Slice the peppers into thin strips.  Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Saute for about 5 minutes or until they look roasted on the outside.  Turn off heat and transfer peppers to a small bowl.

2.     Prep the mushrooms:  Wipe the skillet with a paper towel and return to the stove.  Add 1 1/2 tablespoons butter and melt over medium heat.  Add the sliced shiitake mushrooms and saute for 5-8 minutes or until golden brown.  Turn off heat and transfer mushrooms to a separate medium bowl.

3.     In a small bowl, combine the 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1/2 tablespoon honey, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon ground pepper.

4.     Prep the red onions:  Wipe the skillet with a paper towel and return to the stove.  Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat and add the diced red onion and the 3 cloves minced garlic.  Cook for a few minutes, until tender.

5.     Add the balsamic sauce to the skillet with the onions and garlic and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and toss into the bowl of cooked mushrooms.

6.     In a medium bowl, combine the caramelized onions and mushrooms mixture with the cooked, shredded chicken.  Add 1/3 cup BBQ sauce and stir.

7.     Heat 1/2 teaspoon butter in a large pan over medium heat.  Place a tortilla in the pan and sprinkle one half of the tortilla with 1/4-1/2 cup of the mild cheddar and monterey jack shredded cheese mix.  Then, layer with 1/2 cup of chicken mixture.  Sprinkle a handful of the cooked peppers, then sprinkle with a handful of arugula.  Top with 1/4-1/2 cup of the shredded sharp cheddar.  Fold tortilla in half to cover the filling and carefully flip over.  Cook about 2-3 minutes each side or until golden brown.  Repeat with the remaining tortillas and ingredients.

8.     Cut quesadilla into wedges (I made 5 of these with this recipe and I cut mine into 3 wedges each time) and serve.

quesadillas

Notes:

  • To make the shredded chicken, I trimmed about 4 thick chicken breasts and added them to a sauce pan, then added enough water to cover the chicken.  Start on medium heat, then bring to a boil.  Cover and let simmer for about 10-12 minutes or until they are no longer pink in color.  Drain and place chicken in a large bowl.  When cool enough to handle, shred chicken with a fork or by hand.  Add 1 teaspoon ground pepper to the shredded chicken and mix.  Set aside until needed later.
  • Use the back of a large spatula to press down the folded quesadilla.  This will make it easier to flip over.
  • I was able to make 15 wedges total.

Enjoy!