May 1, 2014

Pepper Jack and Chard Quesadillas

 

quesadilla wedges

Quesadillas—they’re all about cheese. At their core, they are simply flour tortillas folded over cheese, toasted until the cheese melts. Tortilla turnovers, Mexican snacks.

Wouldn’t you like to fill your tortillas with more than just cheese—with something more exotic? To make everyone exclaim how wonderful are your appetizers? To show up at parties with fabulous creative quesadillas that you whipped up in no time?

How about adding some chard? Chard is loaded with vitamins C and A, and heavy in iron—definitely a healthful filling. You will love tender green chard tucked into tortillas. So will your family and anyone lucky enough to get a bite.

rainbow chard leaves

These chard quesadillas flaunt the punch of spicy pepper cheese and one other (surprise) ingredient. So heat up your skillet and bond your chard with cheese. Make these pepper jack and chard quesadillas just in time to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.

Cinco de Mayo, or the fifth of May, calls for a big fiesta, right? Really? How come we get all excited about a holiday that commemorates a Mexican victory over France?

Is it a marketing ploy that feeds off our love for enchiladas and beer—a good excuse for restaurants and bars to draw us in?

dicing ainbow chard

Besides the fact that Mexico is our neighbor, we do have reason to savor Mexico’s Cinco de Mayo. An historical reason.

In 1862, when we were quarreling among ourselves, North vs. South, France was aiding the Confederates with funds and ammunition. At the same time, France was warring with Mexico. Then, at the Battle of Puebla on May fifth, the Mexican army soundly defeated the French.
France retreated to lick their wounds, replenish resources and regroup.

Meanwhile, back in the US, the Union amassed a powerful army that, a little over a year later, won the Battle of Gettysburg. So Cinco de Mayo helped end our Civil War. (How about that for a very shortened version of Mexican-American history?)

quesadilla platter

It’s Cinco de Mayo. Let’s celebrate with quesadillas! Turn yourself victorious with pepper jack and chard quesadillas. These are winners!

Chard is just a start. Be free. Create more combinations of tortilla, cheese and filling. The tortillas can be white, whole-wheat, sprouted wheat, spelt or gluten-free. Or make your own. These chard filled quesadillas I built with Trader Joe’s chile and onion tortillas.

Feel free to toast and melt quesadillas in either olive oil, or butter, which makes them even yummier.

You’ll want to switch up the cheese for quesadilla variety. Make sure it’s a cheese that melts nicely, like mozzarella, Monterey Jack or cheddar. Try Brie cheese sometime. Brie with apple slices, makes a novel quesadilla.

The filling possibilities go on and on. How about some other greens? Spinach, arugula and kale offer vitamins galore, just like chard. Oh, and what about mushrooms, scrambled eggs, olives or beans? And when you are exploring the fridge for ideas—remember that quesadillas are a great way to use up leftovers. Especially when you spice those food remnants with dabs of salsa.

tortilla wedges tall

As appetizers, creative quesadillas will make you a popular guest and a favored host.

For an easy supper alongside salad or soup, serve quesadillas. If you devour an entire one for dinner because they are so amazingly delicious, I won’t tell. You can say you are celebrating the Battle of Puebla, especially on Cinco de Mayo.

I am grateful for Mexican-American culture, fireworks and spelt tortillas. What are you grateful for? Let me know in the comments section below the recipe.

Pepper Jack and Chard Quesadillas

Yield: Makes 2 quesadillas.

Serving Size: For appetizers, plan 2 wedges per person.

Pepper Jack and Chard Quesadillas

These easy to make quesadillas are filled with a delicious combination of flavors--tender vitamin-rich chard, spicy pepper cheese and a surprise ingredient--golden raisins.

Ingredients

  • 4 flour tortillas (see note)
  • 1 bunch chard, washed
  • 3 tablespoons golden raisins (see note)
  • 12 ounces jalapeño or pepper Jack cheese, grated (about 1¼ cup per quesadilla)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for brushing the tortillas
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sherry wine vinegar
  • Pinch salt
  • Green or red salsa, optional

Instructions

  1. Strip the chard leaves from the stems, by hand or with a knife. If the stems are wide, cut them lengthwise about ½-inch thick. Chop the stems into pieces about ¼-inch thick. Roughly cut the leaves into 2-inch pieces. (They can still be wet from washing.)
  2. Soften and plump the raisins in a small bowl with some water.
  3. Heat the olive oil a skillet on medium flame. Add the chard stems and cook for several minutes. Stir in the garlic along with the chard leaves. Cover the pan and cook until the stems and leaves are very soft—tender to the bite, 6 to 8 minutes. Stirring, splash the pan with the teaspoon of vinegar. Season with salt to taste.
  4. Assemble the quesadillas:
  5. Heat 2 skillets on medium flame. Lightly brush one side of a tortilla with olive oil. Place oil side down in a skillet. Do the same with a second tortilla. Sprinkle both tortillas evenly with a layer of grated cheese.
  6. Distribute half of the chard over the cheese. Drain the raisins and divide between the two tortillas. Finish with a second layer of cheese. Top both quesadillas with another tortilla. Brush lightly with olive oil. Cook until the bottom tortillas are golden, 3 or 4 minutes. Gently press down the tops with a spatula. Turn both quesadillas over and brown the other sides.
  7. Transfer to a cutting board. Let the quesadillas cool a few minutes—they will be easier to cut. Cut each tortilla into 8 wedges. Serve with salsa, if you wish.

Notes

  • Make a point to read tortilla labels. Many flour tortillas have a long list of questionable ingredients and there are better choices available in natural food stores. No hydrogenated fats, please. For gluten-free tortillas, you might have to sample several different brands to find the best one.
  • Choose chard with rainbow, ruby, or white stems. The color is not important.
  • Golden raisins are the secret ingredient. Golden raisins and chard appear together in many Mediterranean cuisines, and in these quesadillas, they’re an agreeable and practically undetectable surprise.
  • A splash of vinegar or another acid, like lemon juice, brightens the flavor of all cooked greens. Sherry vinegar hails from the same part of the world as the combo of chard and raisins--appropriate and subtle.

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5 comments

  • Just reading this evokes watering in my mouth, Letty! Reply · 3 May, 2014

    • Letty

      Thanks Karen. Happy Eating! Reply · 6 May, 2014

  • KATHRYN DECKERT

    Letty we made your chard and pepperjack quesadillas for breakfast wearing the tie dyed shirts Chelsea made for all of us at the Moab Art Festival. Taking the so tasty leftovers to the river to do short runs on White’s rapid. Happy Memorial Day Kathryn Reply · 26 May, 2014

  • Letty, these look absolutely yummy! We’re going to share this with our Twitter and Facebook fans on Tuesday, and link here so they can see how to make it.

    Keep it green!

    –Your friendly Southern Calif. farmers at Cut ‘N Clean Greens Reply · 30 May, 2014

    • Letty

      Thanks Cut’N Clean. Can’t wait to try some of your greens. Reply · 31 May, 2014

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