From Arugula to Ziti: Homemade Tortillas

In our house, quesadillas are a staple. We eat them for lunch and dinner, by themselves or dipped in soup, at the table and on the run. In fact, as long as I can remember I've been a diehard quesadilla lover. When I went off to college my parents sent me with a quesadilla maker, which ensured that my roommates, friends and I lived off of quesadillas. Literally.

These days my quesadilla devotion yields higher quality products than it did back then. We prefer a mixture of white and yellow cheddar cheese, extra sharp, with red pepper flakes, garlic powder and oregano. And as of the last snow storm, we prefer them with homemade tortillas.

Homemade tortillas always seemed to me like something that would be too time-consuming and not worth the effort. However, I am someone who makes all of her own bread and pie dough from scratch so I guess homemade tortillas were inevitable. What finally pushed me over the edge and got me to try them was the (most recent) snow storm in D.C. and the complete void of all bread products in every grocery store. From English muffins to tortillas, every place I tried was stripped bare, so I bought as much flour as I could carry and made my own.

Tortillas are easier to make than I ever expected and really worth the time. These had great flavor and texture, and they took our quest for the perfect quesadilla to a new level. In fact, I bet if we used these for burritos and chimichangas, our at-home Mexican endeavors would blow everyone away.

Homemade Tortillas

3 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
3 tbsp vegetable shortening
1 ½ cups warm water

Mix flour, soda, and salt. Cut in shortening either with a pastry cutter or your fingers. The texture should be that of cornmeal.

Add the water, a little at a time, until a soft dough forms. Knead until completely incorporated.

Pull small balls of dough off, and shape into a circle with your hand. Heat a cast iron skillet to medium temperature and spray with cooking oil. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough as thin as possible. Place on hot skillet and cook 1-2 minutes each side, until slightly brown and solid. Let cool.


Elena Rosemond-Hoerr is a writer and photographer and can be found on her own website,
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