quesadillas with mushrooms and bacon
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A while ago I went through a phase of rigorously eating nothing after 7pm, in an effort to shed a couple of pounds. As a result I would often go to bed hungry, listen to my indignant empty stomach for a while and fantasise about a toasted cheese sandwich. I could see it: flat, crispy, oozing cheese, made the old fashioned way in a panini press. Not too greasy and not overloaded, but buttery enough to make some run down your fingers.
In my dreams I wouldn’t be averse to a slip of ham in my sandwich either, and sharpish crunch of a gherkin or mild chili. Tomato might go well as long as not too watery. But a sliver of mushroom would complement the toastie the best.
Before you wonder - I never actually did go down and made my cheese sandwich. I’d like to say that the victory belonged to self-discipline and sound reason but the truth is I couldn’t be bothered to get out of the warm bed. Plus there was usually no suitable bread or none at all, considering the weight loss push, or no cheese or neither. Even the following morning I would still abstain as bread is no friend of mine when on a diet.
Now quesadilla is my perfect toasted cheese sandwich as I’ve only just realised. It ticks all the above boxes plus one huge box on top of that: there’s no bread. Tortillas have probably about 2 calories in one*, so they are just lovely, crispy, light and satisfying housing to your cheese et al. I recommend these for breakfast if you have ten minutes to spare in the morning, but it’s the kind of food that can be happily eaten at any time of day or night. Just like a toasted cheese sandwich.
*Never knowingly telling porkies, I checked. To my dismay, one corn tortilla has about 50 calories and a flour one: 90! But considering a slice of standard bread has about 100, and you need two slices for a toastie, you’re still calories in with a quesadilla: up to four times less than a grilled cheese sandwich.
quesadillas with mushrooms and baconServings: 4 quesadillasTime: 15 minutes
- a knob of butter
- 100g (3 ounces) shiitake or chestnut mushrooms, sliced
- 4 rashers smoked streaky bacon
- about 200g (6 ounces) sliced Monterey Jack, Provolone or another stringy cheese
- 1 ripe avocado, diced
- 1 large fleshy tomato, sliced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
- 4 large flour tortillas
- a little oil to brush them
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat; add the mushrooms and sauté for 5-7 minutes until cooked and lightly browned. Transfer them to a bowl. In the same skillet cook the bacon turning the rashes over halfway through and adding a splash of water to the skillet if it threatens to catch. Remove onto a paper towel.
Place a large dry pan or flat griddle over medium heat; unless you have a really enormous one, you’ll fit two folded quesadillas on it at a time.
Place the toppings: cheese, bacon, a couple of tomato slices, a spoonful of mushrooms, some avocado and jalapeno, and another slice of cheese over one half of a tortilla and fold the other half over. Press gently and brush the outside of the tortilla with a little oil. Place it in the pan and press again with a fish slice.
Keep it there for a minute or two until crispy, then flip with the slice over the fold. When the other side gets crisp, serve immediately.