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Barbecue Secrets

Recipe of the Week: A Grilled Quesadilla Library

Sep 16, 2011

Easy to make and quick to cook, quesadillas are the perfect party food. Think of the soft flour tortilla as a palette upon which you can paint beautiful taste-scapes for your guests. Or something like that. Preparing a quesadilla is as easy as one, two, three, four, five.

1. Place a large flour tortilla on a cutting board or cookie sheet and cover half of it with a 1/4-inch | 5 mm layer of shredded cheese. (What you want is a gooey but bland cheese like mozzarella or Jack for the right texture, plus, if you want to get fancy, a more robust-tasting cheese like Asiago, Gouda, or blue cheese for extra flavor.)

2. Layer on the toppings, taking care to distribute them evenly.

3. Sprinkle the toppings with salt, pepper, and a little hot sauce to taste. (If you’ve used a salty cheese like blue, go easy.)

4. Coat the toppings with another thin layer of shredded cheese.

5. Fold over the tortilla and it’s ready to hit the grill.

To cook, preheat your charcoal or gas grill to a medium-high heat. Place the quesadilla directly on the grill and cook it for 2 or 3 minutes, until the cheese starts to melt and the tortilla is toasted and slightly charred. Flip it with a big spatula and cook the other side for another 2 or 3 minutes. Take it off the grill, place it on a cutting board, and let it rest for a minute or two. Cut it into pizza-like slices with a big sharp knife.

            Accompany the quesadillas with fresh salsa, guacamole, and sour cream for dipping. Quesadillas can also easily be made on a stovetop or on the propane burner on the side of your grill in a large, lightly oiled skillet over medium-high heat. You can prepare the quesadillas in advance and keep them covered and refrigerated for an hour or two before grilling (if you try to keep them overnight, however, the tortillas will get soggy).



Simple but Great

Just plain shredded Jack or cheddar cheese with pickled jalapeño slices.


Equal parts shredded Asiago and Jack cheese, with pickled jalapeño slices, a bit of tomato salsa, and some chopped cilantro, salt, and pepper. Sour cream and guacamole are perfect accompaniments.

Hiker’s Dream (from Calgary foodie Dee Hobsbawn-Smith)

Equal parts shredded Jack and smoked Gouda, thinly sliced Granny Smith apple, fresh chopped rosemary, salt and pepper. Unusual and delicious!


Shredded Jack cheese, chunks of chèvre (creamy goat cheese), slices of roasted red pepper, lightly toasted pine nuts, salt, and pepper. Serve with jalapeño jelly.


Shredded Jack cheese, chopped cilantro, and a few spoonfuls of leftover chili or chorizo. Dip in sour cream or fresh salsa.


Shredded Jack cheese with daubs of cream cheese, slices of lox, a few capers, some thinly sliced red onion, salt, and pepper. Serve with sour cream and…caviar?

Blue Cheese Dream

Shredded Jack, crumbled strong blue cheese like roquefort or Gorgonzola, ripe pear slices, and coarsely chopped toasted walnuts. Maybe even a little caramelized onion.

Blue Cheese Dream (II)

Danish blue cheese, shredded Jack, lightly toasted chopped walnuts, and caramelized onions.


Shredded Jack with chopped, pitted canned black olives, avocado slices, chopped cilantro, chopped fresh red bell pepper, salt, pepper, and a squeeze of fresh lime.


Mozzarella and brie, thinly sliced ripe mango or papaya, chopped cilantro, thinly sliced onion, and chopped fresh jalapeño. Serve with sour cream as a dip.


Note: Flavored cheeses like jalapeño Jack, peppered goat cheese, or spiced Gouda are excellent in quesadillas.