The gentle heat of roasted poblano peppers is delicious when slapped into a folded tortilla layered with pickled red onions, Beecher’s Flagship cheese, and baby greens. On a visit to the Santa Fe School of Cooking in New Mexico a few years ago I picked up a grill that fits over the heating element of a gas stove (pictured), and that is what I use to fire roast the peppers rather than putting them into the oven or lighting up a barbecue. You can roast them in a 400°F (200°C) oven for 20 minutes, until they are nicely charred or use my stove top technique on a grill. Up to you. Make this vegan by subsituting your favorite plant-based cheese. I first got the idea for this take on quesadillas from The Love and Lemons Cookbook, back when I was tiptoeing into making vegetables my primary culinary inspiration rather than proteins. This is essentially that recipe with a few modifications.
Make the pickled onions first, an hour before you start the quesadillas or even a day ahead.
Four peppers yields 4 quesadillas.
- 4 poblano peppers.
- 4 large tortillas. I like to use whole wheat or a combination of corn and wheat, but you can substitute corn tortillas to make this GF. They just won’t fold as easily.
- 2 cups shredded cheese. I like Beecher’s Flagship, but any cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese of your choice will taste great.
- 4 handfuls of baby spinach. (One handful per quesadilla).
- pickled onions (recipe follows).
- 1 avocado.
- lime juice.
- a handful of cilantro.
- salt and pepper.
- Make Cherry Tomato Pico and set aside.
- Roast the poblanos over a medium flame, turning occasionally with tongs until very charred. Wrap cooked peppers in foil as you remove them from the flame. They may not all finish cooking a the same time. Let them cool.
- When the peppers are cool enough to handle, unwrap them and pull the charred skin off, rinsing under cold water as you go. Cut them open and remove the stem and the seeds. Slice them into pieces small enough to go into the quesadillas.
- Heat a 12-inch (30cm) nonstick skillet over medium heat. Brush with neutral oil. I use avocado oil.
- Place a tortilla onto a wooden board. On one half of the tortilla layer on cheese, sliced peppers, spinach, pickled onions. Fold it over and place it in the hot pan.
- Cook for 2 minutes per side, or until the tortilla is golden and cheese is melted. Remove to cutting board.
- Repeat the process with the other 3 tortillas.
- Slice each quesadilla and put it on a plate.
- Pit and cube the avocado. Toss it with lime juice, salt, and pepper. Layer plates with avocado, cilantro, pico, and lime wedges.
Cherry Tomato Pico
Cut 1-2 cups worth of cherry tomatoes into quarters and place them in a bowl. Dice a small jalapeño, removing seeds and ribs, and add it to the bowl. Chop a bit of red onion into a small dice and add to the bowl. Dice cilantro and add it to the mixture. Zest and juice a lime, add both to the bowl. Season with salt and pepper and let the mixture sit while you prepare the rest of the meal.
Pickled Red Onion
Cut one large or 2 small red onions in half. Make thin half moon slices and place them into a pint-sized mason jar (500ml). Don’t overstuff the jar. Pour over 1/2 cup (125ml) white wine vinegar. Add pinches of salt and sugar. Cover to the top of the onions with warm tap water. Shake it up. Chill for a minimum of an hour. This will keep in the fridge for 2-3 weeks. After that, the onions take on a very sharp flavor that is unpleasant to some.