Do you guys use shortcuts? I’d love to say that I don’t. That I have time to cook everything from scratch all the time, and pick vegetables from my very own, well-cared for garden. But I live in a condo and a garden is out of the question. Also, I often don’t have the time to make my own. That’s why I find it very important to have a battery of no-fail shortcuts. My favorites? Canned beans, cartons of chicken stock and rotisserie chickens from Whole Foods. Now, I know that making your own beans and stock and chicken are all tastier options, but if I didn’t rely on these pantry staples, we’d likely eat dinner past midnight.
Of course, since I bought myself some time by not roasting a whole chicken, I want to spend a little more time dressing it up. I made simple quesadillas with chicken, spinach and pepper jack cheese. On their own, they would have been dry and boring, so I brought a little bit of fall into the dish by making pear salsa with almost-ripe bartlett pears, red onion, jalapeÃ±o, cilantro and lime juice. The result is a slightly sweet, spicy and crunchy topping that brings the quesadillas to life. A quick meal, but a really good one.
What are some of your favorite shortcut meals?
For the quesadillas:
4 12-inch whole wheat flour tortillas
Meat from one rotisserie chicken, skin and bones removed
4 oz. baby spinach (about 6 cups)
8 oz. shredded pepper jack cheese
1 tbsp. olive oil
4 tbsp. Mexican crema, or sour cream
For the salsa:
2 almost-ripe bartlett pears, cored and diced
1/4 red onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 jalapeÃ±o, minced
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
juice of 2 limes
Combine all of the salsa ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Set a large (12-inch) skillet over medium heat.
Place the tortillas on your work surface, brush the top with a little olive oil, then flip them over. Cover half of the non-oiled side of the tortillas with chicken. Divide the spinach equally over the chicken, making sure you’re only covering one half of the tortilla, then do the same with the pepper jack.
Fold the tortilla in half, then carefully transfer two of them to the hot skillet. They should both just fit in the pan. Cook for 5 – 6 minutes on each side, or until the tortilla begins to brown and the cheese starts to melt. Carefully flip them and cook for an additional 5 minutes to toast the other side. Repeat with the remaining two tortillas.
Cut each quesadilla into 4 pie-shaped pieces and place on a plate. Drizzle with crema (or sour cream) and top with heaping spoonfuls of pear salsa.
Makes 4 servings.