I used to eat these nearly every night with my aunt Aruna in San Francisco. She always used whole wheat tortillas that gave the quesadillas a chapati-like flavour. Quesadillas are incomplete without pico de gallo, my favourite condiment from the Mexican kitchen. I add toasted cumin to it to enhance the savoury quality of the salsa and as a complement to the earthy quality of the whole wheat tortillas. You can make the pico de gallo up to a day in advance. But it will have to be semi-drained (a slotted spoon works well) prior to serving, as it gets juicier the longer it sits.
If you can only find 8-inch tortillas, increase the cheese to 1/2 cup and increase the pico de gallo to 4 tablespoons per quesadilla. For shredded cheese, any combination of cheddar, mozzarella, Queso Blanco or Monterey Jack will do.
Makes 4 quesadillas
Prepare pico de gallo a day in advance
For pico de gallo
- 3 medium very ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
- 2-3 small red onions, finely chopped
- 2 jalapenos (or 3-4 green chillies), finely diced
- 1.25 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp toasted cumin seed powder (bhuna jeera)
- 1/4 tsp freshly cracked peppercorns
- 1/2 cup chopped coriander leaves and tender green stems
- Juice of 2 limes or to taste
- 8 6-inch whole-wheat tortillas
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup shredded cheese
- Sour cream and guacamole for serving (optional)
- Mix pico de gallo ingredients in a large bowl. Let them stand for at least 30 minutes, or up to 24 hours, to allow the flavours to come together. Taste and adjust the seasoning as you like.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer 3/4 cup pico de gallo to a small bowl, pressing extra liquid from the salsa with the back of a spoon, and set aside.
- Preheat your oven to 200°F (93°C) and place the melted butter and a pastry brush next to your stovetop.
- Brush one side of the tortillas with melted butter.
- Warm a griddle or medium nonstick skillet for 2 minutes over high heat. Reduce to medium and place 1 tortilla, buttered-side down, on the griddle. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese. Top with 3 tablespoons of strained pico de gallo, cover with another tortilla and brush the top with melted butter.
- Cook until the tortilla is browned, which should take about 2 minutes, and then flip. Brush top with more melted butter and cook for about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes until the bottom is browned. Flip again, cooking for 1 minute longer to brown the butter.
- Remove the quesadilla from the griddle. Transfer to a baking sheet and place it in the oven to stay warm. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, cheese and salsa.
- To serve, cut the quesadilla into quarters and serve with additional pico de gallo, sour cream and guacamole.