It’s been a week since I last posted a recipe and that might seem like I’ve starved my family to death. Or, worse, that we’ve all taken the easy way out and lived on fast food delivery for the last seven days. It’s neither. I was in the hospital for five days, and had surgery (they took out my gall bladder), so I wasn’t doing any cooking. Two days before I went to the hospital, I was already too sick to cook. These chicken and pesto quesadillas were the last decent things I cooked before I fell ill. Just so you understand the unusually long interval between this entry and the one before it.
Quesadillas with chicken strips, pesto, bell peppers, chili peppers and cheese
Chicken and pesto quesadillas? You’d probably raise your eyebrow a little higher when I tell you that those quesadillas in the photo had lots of kesong (native white cheese) inside them. Yes, seriously. Like I always say, never be afraid to experiment and use an unorthodox combination of ingredients. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Add the chicken strips and cook until no longer pink. Season with salt and pepper. Add the garlic and onion and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring often. Add the pasta and stir well.
Add the bell peppers and the chili pepper. Cook for a few minutes or just until the vegetables start to turn soft. At this point, the mixture will be very fragrant and you get tempted to just forget about the tortillas and eat the filling by itself. DON’T — patience is a virtue in this case. Grind more black pepper over the mixture and continue cooking for a few more minutes or until the mixture is almost dry. Turn off the heat and allow the filling to cool to room temperature.
While the chicken filling cools, heat the tortillas in a frying pan. Flip them over to light brown on both sides. You’ll know they’re okay when brown spots appear on the surface. You can probably skip this step altogether since you’ll be cooking the tortillas after the fillings are in place but I like them crisp so I bother heating them one by one.
Lay a tortilla flat and place about two tablespoonfuls of the chicken filling on one side. Don’t be tempted to put in too much because the filling will fall out when you fold the tortilla later. Top the chicken filling with the cheese. And remember that the combination of cheddar and native white cheese was simply my personal preference. Feel free to use other kinds of cheeses, you might come up with something even more delicious than what I concocted.
Lift the empty half of the tortilla over, pressing firmly to make sure the thing doesn’t open while baking. Traditionally, quesadillas are cooked in a skillet one by one, and a spatula is pressed over the quesadilla to keep it flat. But I do not have the time and the patience for that so I simply arranged them on a baking sheet and cooked them in a very hot oven, about 200oC, for about 3 minutes just long enough to reheat everything and for the cheeses to melt.
Cool the quesadillas for about 5 minutes before cutting them. Otherwise, the cheeses will ooze out. Into how many portions the quesadilla should be cut is entirely up to you. Since I used small tortillas, I figured cutting each quesadilla into two was just right. For larger tortillas, you can cut each quesadilla into three to four portions.