What in the world is a “gourmet” quesadilla? Well, it’s something I made up when we were living in El Paso and it turned into a dish my kids would frequently request and inhale in no time flat. Of course, I’d have to make Matt’s with onions but without olives, which is how the ingredients are featured. Whereas Sam’s was with olives but no onions, which is not featured on this post at all. Steve and I like it with olives AND onions, which is how I assemble it in the photos. I called it a “gourmet” quesadilla because there was nothing Mexican about it. In my mind, “gourmet” sounded better than “not Mexican” quesadilla.
The thing is, there is no real recipe for a gourmet quesadilla. Since day one, it was literally a combination of ingredients I had in the fridge. I was inspired to make this dish because we had access to the most amazing tortillas in El Paso. Seems like every restaurant in town made theirs from scratch and they were all delicious. You could go out to eat, and when it came time to pay the check, you could order a couple dozen freshly made tortillas to go. I’m pretty sure they were made with lard; they were that good. Since El Paso, I only make gourmet quesadillas with raw tortillas. Because it’s the closest I can get to those wonderful, fresh tortillas.
Besides being delicious, gourmet quesadillas can be used in many ways. Eat them as a meal, serve small wedges as individual appetizers, or cut them into single-bite squares and serve them as a party hors d’oeuvre. It works in all of those ways because the ingredients come together and make a bold flavor statement, and since they are layered, every ingredient is in every bite.
Let’s see what goes into gourmet quesadillas
As I mentioned before, there is no single recipe for gourmet quesadillas. However, since I lean towards all things Mediterranean, it always includes deli meats, olive oil, shredded cheese, herbs, and garlic powder. If you want a little less fat, you can substitute smoked turkey for the ham and salami. And although I did not include them in the picture, I did make today’s recipe with slices of pimento-stuffed green olives. I think the briny zing of the olives contrasts really well with the other ingredients.
You might be scratching your head about the seasoning rub. I started plating these quesadillas with a dollop of sour cream, drizzles of olive oil, and a sprinkle of whatever rub I had on hand. Sometimes it’s steak rub, or rib rub. Today it is rotisserie chicken rub. I just think it adds another layer of flavor. And even with all of that, if I have any available, my guys will eat it with fresh salsa.
I got into the habit of keeping raw tortillas and shredded cheese in the fridge because when my boys were younger, they could make a plain cheese quesadilla snack for themselves quickly and easily. Sam now frequently works nights, and I smile some mornings when I wake up to see a skillet on the stove with bits of toasted cheese inside.
In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that the measurements for the recipe may be a bit off. I usually just chop up all the stuff I need by eyeballing quantities, and then assemble them in such a way that they all get used equally between four quesadillas. So, forgive me if you end up with a little left over. I tend to err on the side of more.
Let’s look at the steps to assemble gourmet quesadillas
This is a VERY simple recipe. So much so that it is easier to just show the steps without getting too verbose.
Start by cutting the meats and the peppers into ribbons about 1/8 of an inch wide. Slice the olives and coarsely chop the cilantro and the onions. Then start the layering.
I think this step is very important. It makes the quesadillas SO juicy!
I use two handfuls of cheese. But then I have freakishly small hands.
I don’t skimp on the meats, because I am a meatasaurus.
And then layer the onions, peppers, olives, cilantro, and a light sprinkle of garlic powder.
Brush about a teaspoon of olive oil into a hot cast iron griddle and place that baby right in the middle. Place the cheese side down first so that it melts. Then you can press down and use the melted cheese as the glue to hold all the chopped layers from flying away when you flip the quesadilla.
I like my quesadillas with just a hint of char. But you can make yours whatever color you like.
And this is how I like to eat it! Although I can only handle two wedges. It is an amazingly filling quesadilla! Crunchy, chewy, juicy, briny, meaty. Delish!
- 8 raw tortillas, 9 inch in diameter
- 4 cups shredded cheese, Colby Jack blend or Mexican blend
- 1 cup sweet snacking peppers, cut into ⅛ inch ribbons
- 2 cups deli sliced ham, cut into ⅛ inch ribbons
- 2 cups Italian dry salami, cut into ⅛ inch ribbons
- 1½ cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
- 8 large green olives
- ¾ cup onion, chopped
- Olive oil
- Garlic powder
- Meat seasoning rub (optional)
- Sour cream (optional)
- Fresh Salsa (optional)
- Start by heating a cast iron skillet or griddle to medium or medium high heat.
- Cut the meats and snacking peppers into ribbons.
- Then slice the olives and chop the onion and the cilantro.
- Place one raw tortilla on a clean, flat surface.
- Drizzle about ½ teaspoon of olive oil on the tortilla.
- Next, use ¼ of the cheese, meats, olives, peppers, onions, and cilantro, in that order.
- Sprinkle about ⅛ teaspoon of garlic powder.
- Cover with another raw tortilla.
- Next, brush about 1 teaspoon of olive oil into the hot pan and immediately place the prepared quesadilla into the center of the pan, cheese side down.
- Cook until the bottom tortilla is toasted, about 4 minutes.
- Press down firmly on the top tortilla to press the chopped ingredients into the melted cheese, then using a large spatula, carefully flip the quesadilla and toast the other side.
- Remove to a clean cutting board and cut into four wedges.
- Eat plain, or serve with sour cream, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of rub.
- Or serve with fresh salsa.
This dish can be made with available ingredients. You can substitute smoked turkey for the meats and parsley for the cilantro.