Instant Dinner: 5 Must-Try Takes on a Quesadilla

Dinner in 10 minutes or less? It's totally possible thanks to these easy quesadilla recipes from Katie Workman, author of The Mom 100 cookbook and The Mom 100 blog

Everyone loves quesadillas. It’s hard not to like melted cheese sandwiched between two carbs!

There are multiple ways to make a quesadilla: grilling, pan sautéing and broiling are three that are very accessible and yield great results every time.

A few helpful tips: Cooking the first batch of tortillas on their own before you fill the quesadillas saves you the skilled chore of flipping them, which can result in a quesadilla piñata – meaning the filling flies out all over the place. Not fun. Also, make sure to really chop up any ingredients you use for filling so that they stay put inside the quesadilla. And don't leave the stove or zone out when you are making quesadillas – they go from golden brown to not-so-golden-brown quite quickly.

Quesadillas make a great lunch or dinner paired up with a salad if you like. And don’t forget about them as appetizers – festive, fun, easy. If you want to make a party out of it, put out different bowls of shredded cheese and various fillings and let everyone be creative. Kids love helping with this. (Supervise the cooking for the little ones, of course!)

If you want to go beyond plain old cheese -- not that there’s anything wrong with that! -- try these five creative variations:

1. Arugula, Roasted Chicken, Cheddar Quesadillas with Salsa (above)
This is a great way to make use of any leftover cooked chicken, be it roasted, broiled, steamed or sautéed. A store-bought roast chicken works perfectly here, too. Arugula adds a nice sharp bite, but you can use watercress or spinach for a milder variation. Add the greens at the end so that they stay fresh but still wilt a bit from the heat of the quesadilla.

2. Asparagus, Feta and Mozzarella Quesadilla with Chipotle Mayonnaise
Mozzarella provides the creamy meltiness that’s so delightful in a quesadilla, and feta offers up a salty and pungent kick-in-the-pants of flavor. Use leftover roasted or steamed asparagus in this (or broccoli is also a good match). This easy chipotle mayonnaise dip is a mainstay in my fridge, as it’s great with cold poached shrimp, roasted potatoes, sandwiches, and this quesadilla, amongst other things.

3. Blue Cheese and Bacon Quesadilla with Pickled Onions
You can use sautéed onions instead of pickled, but the pickled ones take minutes, keep forever in the fridge and add a snazzy piquancy to this rich quesadilla. And they’re pink, which is cool-looking.

4. Quesadilla with Sautéed Leeks, Roasted Broccoli and Mixed Cheeses
You can use onions instead of leeks, you can use cauliflower or peppers or any other veggie instead of the broccoli, you can steam or sauté the vegetables instead of roasting them, you can use Monterey Jack or Fontina instead of a Mexican blend…you get the picture. This is a boilerplate recipe for a vegetable quesadilla and proof that whatever is lying around in your vegetable bin is fair game for a great meal.

5. Quesadillas with Chili, Cheddar, Monterey Jack and Sour Cream
Whenever you make chili, be it vegetarian, turkey or chicken, or beef, save a bit to make these quesadillas later in the week. You’ll also want to bring out the condiments you used with the chili to complete them, like chopped scallions and tomatoes, shredded cheeses, salsa and sour cream.

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