I taught a class Monday night and by the time I got home, I was ravenous. I’d eaten all the interesting leftovers for lunch and my husband had made himself a meal of hot dogs and peas from the freezer. Looking into the fridge, I spotted a package of whole wheat tortillas, a jar of kimchi, and a block of cheddar cheese. Kimchi quesadillas it was!*
To make the quesadilla, I plunk a skillet on the stove and start heat the pan over medium-high heat. Once it’s hot, I put the bottom tortilla into the skillet. I don’t add any oil because my pan is seasoned well enough that for a quick job like this, it just doesn’t need it. If you were using a stainless steel pan, you might want a quick slick of oil to prevent sticking.
Then I spread the grated cheese out on the tortilla, taking care to keep it on the tortilla and off the actual pan. Then I fork out some kimchi. Because I have a small obsessive streak, I try and make sure that my kimchi is placed so that I will get some in every bite. Then I put the second tortilla on top, pressing down gently with the palm of my hand to help adhere it to the melting cheese.
Because my burners heat incredibly unevenly, I end up rotating the pan during cooking, so that all sides get even toasting. Using a flexible fish spatula (the best tool ever for jobs like this), I peek underneath the bottom tortilla. If it is golden, it is time to flip. The second side needs just a minute or two. Once it’s done, I put it on a cutting board to let it cool for a moment and then cut it up into wedges using a big knife.
This would work just as deliciously if you cooked sauerkraut or some other tangy pickled vegetable into the quesadilla. I’ve also made something similar with a few spoonfuls of chutney to very good effect. Heck, you could even make a dessert preserves in action quesadilla using fresh ricotta cheese and some fruit preserves. The options are endless!
*I do not claim to have invented the kimchi quesadilla. As far as I can tell, the idea has been floating around the internet since late 2009, when Roy Choi’s recipe was printed in one of the final issues of Gourmet. Still, it’s a good one!