When both of our boys’ families are here, we have a total of 6 adults in the house as well as 4 young children. Food preferences are different for each one, but there are a few menus that please all.
The weather prevented our older son and his family from getting to our house for the Christmas weekend. The rest of us, though, stayed cozy in the house as the Christmas snow storm hit, creating a beautiful winter wonderland.
As the snowflakes fell, we ate — A dinner of roasted pork loin stuffed with spinach, fontina cheese, pine nuts and Italian sausage along with creamy penne flavored with lots of roasted garlic, roasted Roma tomatoes and more pine nuts. Another meal of Swedish meatballs (my husband makes the best), gravy, mashed potatoes and candied carrots. A marinated tri-tip roast with a big green salad and potatoes. And a Hungarian-style meal with two kinds of our homemade Hungarian sausage along with roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes.
Lunch-time meals are usually make-it-yourself style. I try to have a variety of deli meats, cheese and all kinds of ingredients that can be sandwiched, wrapped or rolled. That means there needs to be some things that can do the sandwiching, wrapping and rolling. Bread. Tortillas. Pita.
I’ve always got a package of my favorite whole wheat tortillas on hand. They make great wraps. And they also work perfectly for making quesadillas.
I had some poached chicken in the refrigerator — the perfect foundation of a quesadilla. Also in the refrigerator: black bean puree and three-pepper salsa, both leftover from the recipe in my column this week.
To make a quesadilla, you don’t really need a recipe. Just about any of your favorite sandwich fillings can be sandwiched between two tortillas and heated in a frying pan. Just perfect a technique that delivers a quesadilla you love, and that’s all there is to it.
Earlier in the week (before everyone was due to arrive for Christmas) I prepared a healthful meal of poached chicken breasts with black bean puree and three-pepper salsa. I had some of each left in the refrigerator.
The black bean puree that I served with poached chicken was spiked with a little cayenne pepper to heat it up a little bit before spreading it over a whole wheat tortilla. Then, some slices of poached chicken and ripe avocado and plenty of shredded cheese. Three-Pepepr Salsa and sour cream was a perfect accompaniment to the warm quesadilla.
After today, my husband and I will be alone once again — eating Christmas leftovers layered into grilled quesadillas.
Chicken and Black Bean Quesadilla
For each quesadilla:
- 1 whole wheat tortilla
- 2 tablespoons black bean puree
- dash of cayenne pepper
- 1 poached chicken breast, sliced
- 1/2 of a ripe avocado, halved, sliced
- 1/2 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
- Sour cream
- cilantro leaves, chopped
- Three-Pepper Salsa
Lay tortilla on work surface. Mix black bean puree and cayenne pepper and spread over half of the tortilla. Layer chicken, avocado and cheese over black bean puree. Fold tortilla in half.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add stuffed and folded tortilla. Cook until one side is golden brown. Use a large metal spatula to flip the quesadilla. Cook until that side is golden brown. Transfer quesadilla to cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut the quesadilla into 3 wedges. Arrange on a plate and serve with Three-Pepper Salsa and sour cream. Garnish with cilantro.
Tips from the cook
Use black beans that have been mashed with a fork if you aren’t making the black bean puree from my column recipe this week. Add a little salsa for moisture, if needed.
Use any salsa that is a favorite with your family.