Triple-Threat Quesadillas!

Awww, YEAH! This is a triple threat. And so easy.  So get’cher frying pan and your big knife, and let’s get on down to the Caramelized Onion, Black Bean, Pepper Jack Quesadillas!

lions and tigers and bears, OH MY!

lions and tigers and bears, OH MY!

Ahh, yes.  A classic.  And SO easy, it’s stupid.  But also this is one of the most flexible recipes in the world.  You can vary the kind of cheese, tortillas, veggies, herbs, meat, beans, you can add guacamole, skip salsa, even STEAM the tortillas instead of frying them!  So for the sake of a clear path, I’ve made a decision, and chosen pepper jack cheese, organic black beans, caramelized onions, and a white, low carb tortilla.  Vamanos, mis amigos!

Medium frying pan
Big knife
Cheese grater
Cereal bowl 

Tortillas (any size)
Pepper jack cheese
1 Can organic black beans
Half a regular, brown (sweet) onion
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Sour Cream

If you like crunching on raw onions, and you don’t care what people say about you behind your back, then skip this first part and just start assembling your quesadilla.  But if you want to soften the onionity (I just made that up, but I have decided that it’s pronounced “Un-YON-it-tee.”  Like “manatee” but with the word “onion.”  We just saw manatees at Sea World in Orlando last month – how great of a segue is that?)

BUT I DIGRESS!  (Surprising, no?)  Anyway, we’re going to soften the onionity by first caramelizing them.  Plus what sounds more impressive than telling your friends you caramelized something today?  

So chop up half an onion (see the TIPS page for my punky advice on that sitch) and then pour the 2 tablespoons of olive oil (2 swirls) in the frying pan, turning the heat on medium low.   Wait about one minute for the oil to heat, then throw in the onions.  Make sure the heat is really pretty low so they turn clear and soft without burning.  Stir occasionally with your spatula.

While you’re caramelizing and feeling pretty smug about your new-found skillz, shred about half a block of pepper jack, and empty and rinse your beans.  Here are the amounts I used to make 3 large quesas:

Did have to grate more cheese eventually - this is a little more than enough for 2 and I was making 3.  Oopsie.

Actually had to grate more cheese eventually - not enough for 3 quesas. Oopsie.

Now grab a cereal bowl and fold two pieces of paper towel into it.  Once the onions are pretty clear, soft, and maybe just slightly brown around the edges, unload them from the frying pan into the paper towel and blot slightly:

CA-RA-MEL!  CA-RA-MEL!  Shout it with me, peeps...

CA-RA-MEL! CA-RA-MEL! Shout it with me, peeps...

(You can also NOT blot the onions – makes things a little “wetter” over all – totally your punky call.  See?  Cooking is all a very personal business.)

And now we assemble.  Turn the heat back on very low – too high and you’ll just burn the suckers, so best to take it easy.  Don’t even wipe the pan – any left over oil will help with our quesadilla-making!  Place the first tortilla halfway into the frying pan and sprinkle on your cheese, weighing it down.  (I find these work better with small-sized tortillas, however, had I not been a doofus and used such a small frying pan, it would’ve been fine.  So REALLY what I’m saying is, pick your frying pan based on the size of your tortillas.  It should be roughly the same circumference.)

(Yes, I did just use the word “circumference” in a recipe.  That’s awesome.) 

Okay!  Enough of me amusing myself.  Jeez, by the time you’ve read all of this, your tortilla’s burned.  SO, place the cheese across the bottom half, then spoon some onions over it, (the warmth of the onions will begin to melt the cheese a bit, all natural-like.)  Now CAREFULLY spoon a layer of black beans on top of the onions, and I say CAREFULLY because these little buggers are so rolly-polly that they’ll be all over the bottom of your frying pan in no time.  Try to aim them for the center crease of the tortilla so they have the least chance of escaping.

Come at the round edge of the tortilla with your spatula, lift up and close the tortilla while flipping over, so that the “fresh” side is now down in the pan, warming the beans, the cheese side up.

Wait a minute or two – this is a real eyeballer, people – and then flip again.  Smash it all down with the spatula for even heat.  The tortilla will brown but try not to burn it. In fact you can use the coloring as a kind of “thermometer” – when it gets to the shade of brown you find appetizing, time to remove!

Repeat with the rest of your tortillas, and then arrange them on a plate and cut each in half to make triangles.  Dollop some salsa and sour cream on those babies and you’re ready to go!  


Arrangement #2: on my favorite blue plate!

Arrangement #2: on my favorite blue plate!

I mean, how GREAT is that, eh?  You get a little crunch and smoke from the tortilla, a little spice from the pepper jack cheese, and a little sweet from the onions.  You also get healthy protein with the black beans and a little veg action from the salsa.  The sour cream?  That’s just yummy.  Doesn’t really help you at all.  (Although a little good fat in your life is a great thing.)

You’ll know you did everything right if after a few minutes your plate looks like THIS:





P.S. Send me YOUR quesadilla recipes!  (Especially if they have cool titles and are made from ingredients found at your Farmer’s Market!)  Post them here in the Comments Section, or send directly to and I’ll get ’em up!

1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    lailablogs said,

    Looks delicious .. Laila ..

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