Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Queso

It’s officially summer. From now through September 23, consider yourself free and encouraged to:

  • Drink brightly colored libations with towering fruit accoutrement, but without an ounce of irony dripping from your curvaceous, sweaty daiquiri glass
  • Flaunt the sunburn you got in the most awkward, painful place (Seriously though, SPF30 people)
  • Wear “short pants”/capris/candy-colored cropped trousers confidently
  • Lock up your blowdryer, bite the bullet and invest in a few bottles of Frizz-Ease
  • Blast the AC and binge-watch Game of Thrones until you’re all caught up with the rest of the world

That last one may be less applicable outside of my own apartment.

Above all else though, summer is the time to embrace as many non-oven cooking endeavors as possible.

There are, of course, exceptions to be made for cheesecakes and muffins and roasting asparagus lathered in olive oil…except on Thursday nights, when you can just barely taste Friday and life is hard.

True confessions: I don’t really like quesadillas. Clarification: When eating out (be it at a trendy taqueria with wayyyy overpriced but wayyyy worth it mojitos or Chipotle), I will always go for a burrito or taco plate or simply guac and chips before I’d ever consider a ‘dilla.

This probably stems from my trouble with sharing food. Quesadillas are the new American appetizer (see menus at: Applebee’s, Chili’s, Ruby Tuesday) and in most fine and not-so-fine establishments, appetizers are intended for sharing. A burrito though? Built for selfish eating tendencies.

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At home, I can make my own damn ‘dilla and take 100% ownership of it. I don’t need to worry about the kitchen forgetting to hold the sour cream (thus rendering the whole thing inedible), or the questionable texture of the “chicken,” or the unexpected appearance of a seedy, potent jalapeño slice. I don’t need menu buy-in from the rest of the table.

So while others wait for a patio table at Big Star or shoot crap on The Cheesecake Factory’s quesadilla app, remember that you have the right to take Tex-Mex into your own hands. It’s your unwritten summer civil right.

Black Bean Pineapple Quesadillas
Makes 4-5 ‘dillas. Adapted from MY OWN BRAIN. #creativity #blessed 

1 can black beans, drained and lightly rinsed
1.5 c pineapple, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
1.5 tbsp adobo seasoning
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne
4-5 large flour tortillas
1 c chihuahua cheese (queso fresco or cotija work too)
Salt & pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high. When shimmering, add the onions, beans, pineapple and pepper. Sauté for a couple minutes, gently stirring everything together. Add the adobo, chili powder and cayenne, as well as any salt/pepper to taste. Let this sizzle, stirring occasionally, for around 10 minutes. Make sure the fruit doesn’t break down; it should just get soft and slightly darker than its natural hue.

Take that mixture off the heat and transfer to a large bowl. Carefully rinse and wipe out the pan, then place it back on the stove over medium heat.

I’m no engineer, but assembly is easier if you start by laying your tortilla out on a plate. Place a few scoopfuls of the bean mixture evenly onto half of the tortilla, and sprinkle liberally with cheese. You don’t want this overstuffed or else flipping will be the most royal pain. Fold the tortilla over and transfer to your pan.

When you can start to see melted cheese oozing out of the tortilla and the bottom looks toasted (but not burnt), it’s probably safe to flip (the gooeyness should also help prevent slippage mid-rotation.) Each side should only need around 2-3 minutes.

If you were feeling ballsy you could hypothetically pop these in a marginally warm oven (with some extra cheese sprinkled on top) to sit pretty while you make the rest of the batch, or re-watch the 10 minutes of Game of Thrones you fell asleep on the night before.

Serve with arroz or guacamole, or just save room and eat multiple quesadillas.

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