Monday, May 24, 2010

A Dilla a Day

Oh man. I love quesadillas. That tasty lil’ ham and cheese number I told you about awhile back, that was just the tip of the tortilla, my friends. There was a time in my life—college, to be exact—when I had the genius idea of starting a quesadilla café. My little eatery would have everything you could ever dream of putting between two tortillas.

Of course I’d serve up the classic, with oozy melty jack and cheddar, guac, sour cream, and salsa. Then I’d have the deli-dillas (yes, I thought about the menu-section names a lot). Deli-dillas would be your average deli counter creations between crispy, golden tortillas. These would be your ham and cheese, chicken Caesar, roast beef, turkey club, BLT, etc. Then there would be diner-dillas—things like meatloaf dilla, mashed potato, maybe a few bacon-and-eggs or corned beef hash type breakfast options. Next on the list: destination-dillas—filled with everything from Hawaiian spam and pineapple, pepperoni pizza toppings, and Caribbean coconut rice with pigeon peas, to down south pulled pork and slaw, Northwest smoked salmon, and crab cakes from Maryland. I’d also have a few dessert-dillas on the menu, for good measure.

I recently made three extra delicious dillas that would definitely need to be on the menu: the tuna-dilla, smoky asparagus dilla, and the Philly cheese-steak dilla. Get out there and buy yourself some tortillas, because these gems are just dying to get eaten.

Dilla Numero Uno: The Tuna Dilla

Tuna-dilla may sound a little creepy, but trust me…this isn’t your grandma’s tuna surprise. In college, my roommates and I ate a lot of quesadillas… hence my café idea. We all had our specialties… Kristy rocked the super cheesy, fully stuffed corn and black bean salsa dilla, I usually stuck to simple dillas with chili or split pea soup, and Bree… her claim to fame was the one and only tuna-dilla. I was a little freaked out at first. My family did not partake in hot tuna. No tuna melts, no tuna casseroles, and definitely no tuna surprise. Bree’s tuna dilla, however, changed everything. Fresh, flakey tuna between crispy tortillas with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese… epic. I’ve updated the tuna-dilla to include sweet piquillo peppers and nutty Swiss cheese. It’s a little weird, super simple, and insanely satisfying. Simply mix 1 can of drained chunk light tuna with a little salt, pepper, and a small splash of olive oil, layer with Swiss cheese and piquillo peppers between two flour tortillas, and grill until golden and melty.

Dilla Dos: Philly Cheese-steak Dilla

A cheese-steak between tortillas, what more do you need to know!? One night, Amanda mentioned that she’d be making me Phillies later in the week, then she flip flopped to taco salads. Excited about the prospect of cheese-steaks, I mentioned them to Evan, and it was all downhill from there. Amanda ended up flip flopping back to cheese-steaks, but Evan was already sold. So, to avoid having the same thing two nights in a row, I decided to jazz up Evan and my cheese-steaks by making them quesadillas instead. So easy for a rushed weeknight. Sautéed onions, red bell pepper, and pepperoncinis; Swiss cheese, and thin sliced deli roast beef. Aside from the amazing sandwiches at New York Sub Shop in Hood River, Oregon, I’d say these are the best cheese-steaks I’ve had.

Dilla Number Three: Smoky Asparagus Dilla

Smoky asparagus dillas were actually inspired by Mel’s zucchini and onion quesadillas, which are fantastic (and will for sure show up on here at some point). Mel’s killer zucchini quesadillas have sautéed onions, zucchini, cumin, and lots of ooey, gooey, melty cheese, so I decided to make it even better with a few tweaks and the addition of my favorite spring veggie- asparagus. The smoky cheese and asparagus really make it a full on meal, and a delish one at that. Just ask Brit and Amanda, they witnessed this little creation one night when I went a little asparagus crazy, making three separate, completely unrelated asparagus dishes for dinner.

Smoky Asparagus Dilla for 2-4 people
1/2 onion-sliced
1 large zucchini, thinly sliced
6-8 asparagus stalks- halved and then sliced lengthwise
2-3 garlic cloves- diced
.5 teaspoons cumin seeds
.5 teaspoons ground cumin
Generous salt and pepper
1-2 cup shredded cheese (a mix of jack and something smoked-gouda or smoked cheddar)
4 flour tortillas (8 inch for optimal filling/dilla, but smaller or bigger would work)
EVOO for brushing
1-2 tablespoon EVOO for cooking
Pinch red pepper flakes

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Heat oil in large skillet, and add cumin seeds, onions, and asparagus. Cook until fragrant and slightly tender. Add zucchini, salt, and pepper, and continue cooking until tender and slightly saucy. Assemble on a cookie sheet: 1 tortilla, handful of cheese (desired amt), half of mixture, handful of cheese, 2nd tortilla (x2). Brush top of tortilla w/EVOO, and bake for 5-10 min, until golden, flip, brush w/EVOO, repeat. Enjoy with sour cream and cilantro.
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