Some nights (okay, many nights), I come home with this voracious need to devour. This total and all-consuming drive to eat something overtly satisfying. Not shy. Not light. Just hit-the-spot filling and delicious.
Could anything fit that description better than a quesadilla? I think not.
These quesadillas are stuffed to the gills. A crunchy flour tortilla is filled oozing melted Monterey Jack cheese, plump shrimp, and crunchy-delicious pablano pepper, green onions, and garlic. The flavor comes from tangy-spicy salsa verde, which also doubles as an extra salsa. And to serve it, I make the world’s easiest cheated guacamole.
I’ll tell you why these quesadillas are so easy: I take shortcuts, and use ingredients that I always have. For instance, I absolutely always have tortillas and shrimp in my freezer. I also love Pace’s Salsa Verde and usually have a jar of it in my fridge. And instead of making guacamole from scratch, and buying extra salsa (one is time- and ingredient-consuming, the other sits in my fridge and takes up space), I make a short-cut guac from mashed avocados and store-bought fresh pico di gallo. The whole thing adds up to a really easy, really filling, really delicious dinner. And, it’s great for entertaining mid-week: just double the recipe to serve 4.
recommended equipment: CuisinArt Griddler, George Foreman, or Panini Press
- 1 Haas avocado
- 1 cup (½ pound) Pico di Gallo (in the supermarket produce section)
- 1 tablespoon oil, preferably canola
- ¾ pound raw jumbo shrimp (11-15 count), peeled, and deveined
- 4 scallions, sliced on an angle
- 1 poblano pepper, seeds removed, sliced
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- ⅓ cup salsa verde (recommended: Pace Salsa Verde)
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, torn (optional)
- 2 extra-large (10-inch) flour tortillas
- 1½ cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- Nonstick cooking spray
If using a Griddler, grill, or panini press, preheat the griddle to the highest heat (usually 425°F).
Make the avocado salsa. Scoop out the flesh of the avocado and mash it in a bowl. Stir in the Pico di Gallo, and season with salt. Set aside.
Make sure you have all your ingredients prepped. Make sure the shrimp have no tails, and use a small knife to slice the shrimp in half lengthwise. Chop the scallions and the poblano pepper, and grate the garlic. Then, heat oil in a wide sauté pan over medium heat. Sauté the shrimp for 90 seconds, season with salt, and use a slotted spoon to place the shrimp in a bowl. Add the scallions, pepper, and garlic to the same pan. Sauté for 1 minute, stirring often, and season with salt. Use the slotted spoon to remove the vegetables to the same bowl as the shrimp. Toss the shrimp and vegetables with the salsa verde and cilantro.
Spray one side of each tortilla with nonstick cooking spray. Then, flip the tortilla over, so the dry side is facing up. On one half of the tortilla, sprinkle ¼ of the cheese. Scatter half the shrimp and vegetable mixture over the cheese. Top the shrimp and vegetables with another ¼ of the cheese, and fold the tortilla over, so you have a stuffed half-moon with cooking spray on the outside. Repeat with the remaining ingredients on the second tortilla.
Place the quesadillas on the Griddler and cook until the tortilla is golden and crisp, and the cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. If you don’t use the Griddler, clean out the sauté pan you used earlier, and make sure it is very dry. Place the pan over medium to medium-high heat. Then place the tortillas in the pan, and cook until the tortillas are crisp and golden, and the cheese is melted, turning once. Use a big knife to cut each tortilla into thirds, and serve with the avocado salsa, and some leftover salsa verde, if you have any.
You can just as easily make this with chicken, or make it vegetarian using black beans.
If you want to use chicken, cut up a chicken breast into strips, and sauté it just like the shrimp. It may need longer to cook: it is fully cooked when you cut into the middle of a strip of chicken, and the chicken is opaque and white.
If using black beans, drain and rinse a can of black beans and toss with the vegetables and salsa verde.
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