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Exploring Quesadillas: 14 Creative Sweet and Savory Recipes

Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes one ingredient at a time.

Quesadillas are a truly versatile food. Read on to see unique quesadilla creations.

Quesadillas are a truly versatile food. Read on to see unique quesadilla creations.

Could We Have a Quesadilla Wednesday?

Meatless Monday. Taco Tuesday. Pizza Friday. Why not a Quesadilla Wednesday Ok, so the phrase doesn't exactly roll off the tongue; it's a little clunky-sounding, but for many of us in the U.S.A., making it to Wednesday is a reason for celebration—the week is half over and in just two days you have a weekend!

Quesadillas are quick and easy (even the kids can help), and talk about versatility! Quesadillas made with small tortillas and a simple filling can be an appetizer or "small bite." Add soup or a side salad to round it out.

More substantial fillings can turn this traditional Mexican dish into a meal. And a few inventive cooks have even taken the concept a step further and created an array of dessert quesadillas.

Quesadilla with chicken

Quesadilla with chicken

But Wait, There's More. What About This Idea?

As I began to write and research this article, I had an "aha" moment; some might call it an epiphany. Is it possible that anything you might sandwich between two slices of bread could, with a bit of imagination, a dash of daring and a smidgen of foolhardiness be placed between two tortillas and become the next taste sensation in the quesadilla world??!!

Let's give it a try.

What Is a Quesadilla?

In case you have not heard of them, the basic quesadilla is a tortilla (flour or corn) filled with melted cheese.

In fact, the word quesadilla means "little cheesy thing." But cheese and tortilla are just the beginning. The foods and flavors that can be folded into a quesadilla are limited only by your imagination.

The Basic Method for Making a Quesadilla

Take a fresh tortilla, place a generous piece of cheese in the center, and fold it over as you would a turnover. Place in a hot, ungreased skillet and cook lightly, turing often until the cheese is melted.

Isn't that easy? Now that you understand how to make a simple quesadilla, let's explore some other flavor combinations.

Recipes

Here is a list of the quesadillas I have lined up for you:

Appetizers (small bites)

  1. Spinach, mushroom and goat cheese quesadilla
  2. Quesadilla Margherita
  3. Jewish deli quesadilla
  4. Greek salad quesadilla

Main Dish (whole meal)

  1. Philly cheesesteak quesadilla
  2. Ham and cheese quesadilla
  3. Cheeseburger quesadilla
  4. Chicken bacon ranch quesadilla
  5. Thanksgiving quesadilla
  6. Vegetarian black bean quesadilla

Dessert (something sweet)

  1. PBJ quesadilla
  2. The Elvis quesadilla
  3. Bananas Foster quesadilla
  4. S'mores quesadilla

Appetizers (Small Bites)

Spinach mushroom goat cheese quesadillas

Spinach mushroom goat cheese quesadillas

1. Spinach, Mushroom, Goat Cheese

Jessica (The Forked Spoon) created a simple vegetarian quesadilla featuring easy-to-find ingredients. With just a bag of spinach, a box of mushrooms, a few flour tortillas, and a bit of crumbled goat cheese you can have this meal ready in just 20 minutes.

2. Margherita

The fresh flavors of a pizza Margherita tucked inside a spinach quesadilla.

  • spinach tortillas (they don't taste like spinach, but I love the color)
  • fresh sliced mozzarella (fresh, not the rubbery ball of cheese)
  • fresh sliced Roma tomatoes (seeds removed)
  • fresh basil leaves, torn (or basil pesto)

3. Jewish Deli

Anyone who has been to New York City will tell you that one of the best bites on the planet is a freshly baked bagel with lox and a schmeer or cream cheese.

  • whole wheat flour tortilla (or you could use a plain flour tortilla)
  • cold smoked salmon, sliced thin (you want cold smoked, moist salmon)
  • whipped cream cheese (the glue for your quesadilla)
  • red onion, sliced thin (for a little heat)
  • chopped fresh dill (it goes with salmon)
  • capers, rinsed and drained (optional but I like their briny taste)

4. Greek Salad

I love the contrast of flavors and textures in a Greek salad: briny Kalamata olives, garlicky tzatziki sauce, tangy feta, and sweet tomatoes.

  • spinach tortillas (green)
  • chopped Kalamata olives (salty and briny)
  • Feta cheese, crumbled (it's not a Greek without it)
  • cherry tomatoes, halved (sweet and pretty)
  • tzatziki sauce

Main Dish (Meal in a Tortilla) Quesadillas

5. Philly Cheese Steak

All of the flavors you enjoy in a Philly cheese steak sandwich can easily be placed inside a tortilla. Imagine how gooey and melty that cheese will be!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb beef sirloin steak, cut in thin strips, seasoned with salt and pepper, and quickly stir-fried in a skillet (beef, seasoned and cooked quickly so it doesn't dry out)
  • 1 onion and one green bell pepper, thinly sliced and quickly stir-fried in a skillet (veggies)
  • Provolone cheese (melty gooey holds everything in place)
  • flour tortillas (of course)

6. Ham and Cheese

Move over Breakfast Jack and Egg McMuffin. If you can scramble an egg, you can make this easy breakfast (or breakfast for dinner) at home.

Ingredients

  • 1 egg, scrambled (1 for each quesadilla)
  • finely diced cooked ham (it's breakfast)
  • grated Cheddar cheese (melty yummy)
  • minced green onions (also known as spring onions)
  • flour tortillas (what else?)
Cheeseburger quesadilla

Cheeseburger quesadilla

7. Cheeseburger

Yammie is a photographer and food blogger—originally from the States but living in Berlin with her husband while he finishes his degree in international business. Her photographs are amazing. I can almost taste that "cheeseburger".

8. Chicken Bacon Ranch

This one has been popular as a pizza; why not try it in a tortilla?

Ingredients

  • cooked shredded chicken (leftover from a rotisserie chicken?)
  • crisp cooked bacon (everything's better with bacon)
  • grated Cheddar cheese (melty goodness)
  • creamy ranch dressing (just a drizzle)
  • minced green onions (for a little kick)

9. Thanksgiving

My husband thinks the best day of the year is the day after Thanksgiving when he can build a sandwich of turkey, mayonnaise, and cranberry sauce. I think this version might make him even happier:

Ingredients

  • whole wheat tortilla (we're being healthy, right?)
  • sliced cooked turkey (because)
  • cranberry sauce (just a little bit)
  • whipped cream cheese (to hold everything together)
Vegetarian black bean quesadilla

Vegetarian black bean quesadilla

10. Vegetarian Black Bean

This one is so satisfying, I don't think you'll miss the meat.

Ingredients

  • whole wheat flour tortilla (fiber)
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained (for fiber, and protein)
  • fresh or frozen corn, thawed (veggies!)
  • diced fresh tomato (more veggies)
  • chopped fresh cilantro (herby floral notes)
  • Monterrey cheese, grated (melty yumminess)
  • diced avocado (creamy yumminess)

Dessert Quesadillas

11. PB&J (Peanut Butter and Jelly)

Sweet and salty is the "in" flavor, and the school lunch sandwich of your youth certainly fills that bill. Imagine peanut butter, warm and drippy, and just a drizzle of grape jelly in the center. Go ahead, be decadent and dip those quesadilla wedges in a bit of chocolate syrup. I promise, no one is watching.

Ingredients

  • flour tortillas
  • creamy peanut butter (not natural)
  • grape jelly (or raspberry, if you insist)
  • chocolate syrup (just for fun)

12. The Elvis

I know I don't have to explain this one to you.

Ingredients

  • flour tortillas
  • creamy peanut butter
  • bananas, sliced
  • chocolate chips
Bananas Foster quesadilla

Bananas Foster quesadilla

13. Bananas Foster

Foodfanatic.com is a platform for serious cooks who want to share their creations with the world. Tanya Schroeder posted this recipe for Bananas Foster Quesadillas. It doesn't hurt that she tops this creation with whipped cream and additional caramel sauce.

Grilled s'mores quesadilla

Grilled s'mores quesadilla

14. S'mores

Carriann is a published author, and also shares her wonderful recipes on her website. Imagine the flavors of your campout s'mores tucked into a warm tortilla.

© 2016 Linda Lum