Quesadillas. Simply, flour tortillas folded over cheese, and toasted until the cheese melts. These chard and pepper jack quesadillas, filled with tender sautéed leafy chard, and bonded into whole grain tortillas by way of spicy pepper cheese, take plain old quesadillas up several flavor and texture levels. And that’s without the secret surprise that takes them over the top.
Robbie and I eat quesadillas for dinner all the time, along with nothing more than a crispy green salad. Let’s get cookin’—heat up the skillet and melt chard and pepper jack into quesadillas. Cut into wedges for appetizer snacks. Or an easy supper.JUMP DIRECTLY TO RECIPE
We’ve got the perfect occasion to whip up these quesadillas–Cinco de Mayo, a day that calls for a big fiesta, right? (Just so you know, I think Cinco de Mayo celebration in the US is a marketing ploy to feed our love for enchiladas, tequila, and beer—a good excuse for restaurants and bars to draw us in.) But I celebrate anyway–¡viva Mexico!
How come we get all excited about a Mexican holiday in early May, that commemorates Mexico’s victory, over France? For one, we like an excuse to drink margaritas and Mexico is our close neighbor. But the real reason is historical. It goes back to 1862, during the US Civil War, a time when we were quarreling among ourselves, north vs. south.
France was helping the Confederate side of our war by providing funds and ammunition, and, at the same time, fighting a war with Mexico. Talk about spreading yourself thin. On May fifth that year, 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.
To make it a very short story, the Mexican-French battle of Puebla on Cinco de Mayo helped end our Civil War. That’s the reason I’m celebrating with chard and pepper jack quesadillas, and tequila. For me, both are winners, without a battle!
Chard and Pepper Jack Quesadillas recipe notes:
- Surprise! Golden raisins go in these chard and pepper jack quesadillas. The two appear together in many Mediterranean cuisines, and here the raisins are a practically undetectable addition, the one that takes these quesadillas up still another level.
- Chard, loaded with vitamins C and A, and heavy in iron, is definitely a healthful addition to tortillas with cheese. Choose any chard, rainbow, ruby, or white–the color is not important. And feel free to switch up the greens–spinach, arugula and kale sub in fine for chard.
- A splash of vinegar brightens all cooked greens. Since sherry vinegar hails from the same part of the world as the pairing of chard and raisins, it’s a good choice, though any light vinegar will do.
- The tortillas can be white, whole-wheat, sprouted wheat, spelt or gluten-free. For gluten-free tortillas, you might have to sample several different brands to find the best one.
- Make a point to read the tortilla ingredient labels—there’s a long questionable list in so many flour tortillas. No hydrogenated fats, please. Try natural food stores for the better choices. I made these with Trader Joe’s chile and onion tortillas.
- You can toast quesadillas with either olive oil, or butter, which Robbie prefers—butter makes them crispier.
Wishing you a fabulous week–get in the kitchen and cook something delicious!
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- 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 sea salt
- Green or red salsa, optional
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.)
Soften and plump the raisins in a small bowl with some water.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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, sample several different brands to find the best one.
- Don't sub in dark raisins--not the same fruity flavor and their dark color will look funny in the filling.