- vegetable oil for deep-frying
- 10 freshly made 11 cm corn tortillas (recipe below or use store-bought corn tortillas)
- 500 g oaxaca cheese or firm mozzarella, grated
- shredded iceberg lettuce
- cotija or fresco cheese, crumbled
- salsa verde (recipe below)
- coriander leaves
- lime wedges
Fried Quesadillas/ Quesadillas Fritas Method
- Heat enough vegetable oil for deep-frying in a large heavy-based saucepan or deep-fryer to 180°C on a kitchen thermometer.
- Working with one tortilla at a time, scatter 50 g of the cheese over the tortilla, then fold the tortilla in half to seal.
- Carefully lower the quesadilla into the hot oil and cook, flipping frequently, for 2 minutes or until light golden. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and cheese to make 10 quesadillas.
- Top the quesadillas with shredded lettuce, a sprinkling of crumbled cheese, a spoon of salsa verde and a few coriander leaves. Serve with lime wedges.
Tortillas – Makes about 20 corn tortillas
There is no doubt that handmade tortillas are far superior to store-bought versions, plus they are fun to make. They also enable you to use yellow, white or blue masa flour. Even though nixtamal (the process of soaking and cooking corn in limewater) is the traditional and most authentic way to make masa, it’s very labour-intensive. Store-bought masa is absolutely fine to use and the results are pretty much the same. You will need a tortilla press to make tortillas. You can easily pick one up at your local Latin American supermarket or online.
- 500 g masa flour
- 600 ml warm water
- Pinch table salt
- 50 ml vegetable oil
- vegetable oil spray for cooking
- Combine the masa, warm water, salt and oil in a bowl until you have a soft and non-sticky dough.
- Lightly spray a comal or heavy-based frying pan with oil spray and place over medium–high heat.
- Place a square of plastic wrap over the bottom half of a tortilla press. To make 16 cm tortillas, roll 50 g of the dough into a ball and place it in the middle of the tortilla press. Cover with another square of plastic wrap (this stops the dough sticking to the press), then close the tortilla press and gently press to flatten the dough into a 3 mm thick tortilla. If you are making 11 cm tortillas, reduce the quantity of dough to 35 g for each tortilla.
- Open the tortilla press, remove the top layer of plastic wrap and flip the tortilla onto your hand.
- Remove the bottom layer of plastic wrap and place the tortilla in the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes, then flip over and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Transfer the tortilla to a tortilla warmer or folded tea towel and repeat with the remaining dough, using more oil spray as needed.
Salsa Verde/ Green Salsa – Makes about 250 ml (1 cup)
Salsas are one of the most important accompaniments in Mexican cuisine, and salsa verde is probably the most popular, with its the tangy flavour of green tomatillos mixed with fresh chilli. It’s also my favourite salsa. Fresh tomatillos are one of the ingredients Mexican expats miss most, but tinned tomatillos are readily available and are nearly as good. You will find them at Latin American supermarkets or online.
- 300 g fresh or tinned tomatillos
- 10 green chillies, such as jalapeno, serrano or long, roughly chopped
- ½ white onion, roughly chopped
- ½ garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 100 g coriander leaves, finely chopped
Salsa Verde/ Green Salsa Method
- If you are lucky enough to find fresh tomatillos, remove the husks and thoroughly wash the fruit. If using tinned tomatillos, drain and rinse them. Roughly chop the tomatillos.
- Heat a comal or heavy-based frying pan over medium–high heat. Add the tomatillos, chillli and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until charred on all sides.
- Place the charred tomatillos, onion and chilli in a mortar or blender and add the garlic, salt and 250 ml (1 cup) water. Pound with a pestle or blend the ingredients to a chunky salsa. Stir through the coriander and transfer to a serving bowl.
Recipes extracted from Comida Mexicana by Rosa Cienfuegos, published by Smith Street Books, RRP AU$ 45.00 / NZ$ 55.00
Photography © Alicia Taylor, Food Stylist © Deborah Kaloper