Mushroom Quesadillas with Chiles and Chipotle Cheese

Quesadillas, ready to serve with salsa!

Quesadillas, ready to serve with salsa!

These are a favorite around here and are eaten as fast as I can cook them up! This recipe makes four. You may want to keep the first ones someplace warm as you cook the rest — if you’re not serving them out as you make them! You can make quesadillas with smaller or larger tortillas. Adjust the amount of cheese and filling accordingly. The medium-sized tortillas seem the best choice to me; the small ones just seem too small and the bigger ones are really tricky to turn over, even with my super-sized spatula. The skillet pictured below is a 12 inch skillet and medium sized tortillas are just about the right size for it.

1 poblano pepper
5-7 white button mushrooms
8 tortillas, 7-8″ diameter
1 block Cabot chipotle cheddar

There are a number of variations you can make to moderate (or increase) spiciness. You don’t need a “quesadilla maker”, just a skillet. The trick to quesadillas with any kind of vegetable inside is to cook the veggies first, because the actual cooking time for each quesadilla is mere minutes — just enough to toast the tortilla a bit and melt the cheese.

Deseed and slice the poblano pepper in strips, then cut the strips in pieces not more than a couple of inches long. Saute in a small amount of oil while you clean and remove stems from the mushrooms. Slice the mushrooms, then give them a brief coarse chopping to make the pieces a bit smaller (unless the caps are very small). Throw them in with the poblano peppers and saute until the mushrooms have changed color and the peppers are done. Remember: they’re not going to get any significant amount of cooking after they’re added to the quesadillas, so cook them to the amount of doneness you want.

You can grate the cheese for this, but I just slice it. For this amount (four 8 inch quesadillas) you won’t use up the whole block. Put the cheese in the center on the tortilla, leaving an inch or an inch and a half around the edge. Scoop a small amount, about a quarter of the amount cooked up, on top of the cheese, leaving the same margin around the edge. Place another tortilla on top, then place the quesadilla in a moderately hot skillet. (I cook these on about 4 on my electric stove.) See slideshow below for pics of  cheese, amount of filling, cooking, etc.) Let it cook briefly, pressing with a spatula a bit, until the tortilla has gotten toasty and brown on the bottom and the cheese is melted. This will only take a minute or two. Turn it over carefully. (I use my favorite round spatula, which is larger than the usual.) Brown the other side, taking care not to scorch either side. You may want to turn them more than once until you get a feel for how long they need on each side based on your stove. The cheese is the glue that holds the ingredients and tortillas together. Give it time to melt before you flip the first time.

Cut into quarters and serve hot with salsa.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

You can make these with just the chipotle cheese, if you need to throw something together a little more quickly. The spicy cheddar makes even plain cheese quesadillas special.

If you want a much milder version of these quesadillas, substitute a milder cheddar, one that doesn’t have peppers in it, or perhaps a plain jack cheese or queso blanco. The poblanos are mild peppers, but flavorful. If you want a hotter quesadilla, substitute a hot pepper for the poblano, but be careful!

I like the combination of flavors with the chipotle cheddar, poblano, and mushrooms but there are a lot of combinations of different types of cheese and other ingredients that can be put into quesadillas. The only things you need to keep in mind is to cook the vegetables first and not to over-load the tortillas when filling them. The filling should be a single layer, not heaped up on the cheese, nor should it completely cover the cheese. Never use more filling than you have cheese to glue it all together.

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