Quesadillas for Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo… is not an excuse for margaritas! In fact, it commemorates the against-all-odds victory of the Mexican army against the much larger French forces of conquest at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Though the victory in the battle did not lead to victory in the war, it served as a morale booster and matter for pride for the Mexican army and people. Interestingly, that war was the last time a European power invaded any country in the Americas!


Today Cinco de Mayo – Spanish for ‘fifth of May’ – has come to signify a tribute to Mexican heritage and pride and is celebrated widely in the United States and in Mexico. Usually parties with awesome Mexican food drink and music…


When you want to go Mexican in terms of food, there is plenty of choice. And all of them are sooo good! This year my choice is quesadilla, but of course, with a twist.

Quesadilla is one of the quintessential Mexican dishes. One of my favourites to make as well, because of the variety one can work with it. And I’m certain that the quesadilla as it originally was hardly resembles its modern version.


Essentially, a quesadilla is a tortilla stuffed with cheese and various fillings and folded and heated through to form a half moon shape. The cheese is the one constant ingredient, as attested by the ‘queso’, cheese in Spanish, in the name itself. And it is always some type of melty cheese. A combination of cheddar, Monterey Jack and Pepper Jack cheeses works well. Or any one of them alone will also work. Pre-packed Mexican blends available in the store makes it super easy.


I decided to stick with one traditional variety this time… South Western with traditional filling of corn, red pepper, and onions flavoured with cumin.


And three variations! A Vegetable Medley for my veggie lover friends, a Tikka Chicken for those who like it hot, and a Sesame Chicken for the spicy-not-hot bunch.


Once all the ingredients were ready and chopped, and it’s a lot of chopping, believe me, assembling each one was the fun part. And they are so yummy hot off the griddle, with a cooling side of guacamole, salsa or cilantro-lime-sour cream.


Guacamole is something that goes well with a lot of things, especially of Mexican origin. Only problem is, it gets over so fast!


And of course, accompanied by margaritas before and after…


Just wondering… whether the French celebrate Cinco de Mayo… 🙂


Recipe for Quesadillas

  • 10 whole wheat tortillas
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 lbs shredded cheese, combination of pepper jack and cheddar or a Mexican blend

Note: Recipe for fillings follow.

1 Heat a flat griddle, on medium heat.
2 Brush with olive oil.
3 Place a tortilla on the griddle.
4 Sprinkle cheese liberally all over the tortilla.
5 Place the filling of your choice on one half of the tortilla.
6 Carefully fold the other half over, and press with a spatula to seal.
7 Turn over and cook the second side.
8 When both sides are somewhat crisp, transfer to a plate and cut into four wedges.
9 Serve with guacamole, salsa and sour cream.


South Western Filling

  • 1 cup whole corn kernels
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 cup tomatoes, fleshy part chopped
  • ½ cup cilantro, minced
  • A pinch of cumin powder
  • Salt to taste

Mix ingredients together and place over cheese on the tortilla on the griddle.


 Vegetable Medley Filling

  • ½ cup potato, cut into small cubes and boiled
  • ½ cup carrots, shredded
  • ½ cup broccoli, only the crown chopped
  • ½ cup corn kernels
  • ½ cup red pepper, chopped
  • ½ cup red onions, chopped
  • ½ cup black olives, sliced
  • ¼ cup cilantro minced
  • 2 tbsp pickled jalapenos, minced
  • salt to taste

Mix ingredients together and place over cheese on the tortilla on the griddle.


Tikka Chicken Filling

  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp chicken tikka masala powder (available in Indian grocery stores)
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • A pinch of turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp paprika or a mix of paprika and cayenne
  • 1 tbsp crushed garlic
  • Salt to taste
  1. Cut the chicken into small bite size pieces.
  2. Mix with all the spice powders, sour cream and salt. Keep aside for 30 minutes. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
  3. Preheat the oven on the broiler setting.
  4. Line a flat pan with aluminium foil and lay the chicken pieces in a single layer.
  5. Broil on the top most rack of the oven for 10 minutes.
  6. When done, remove from the aluminium foil and cover and keep till ready to use.


Sesame Chicken Filling

  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped red onion
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • Salt to taste
  1. Cut the chicken into thin strips.
  2. Slice the green leafy parts of the scallions.
  3. Marinate the chicken pieces with the soy sauce, sesame oil, chopped onion and garlic, chilli flakes and salt. Keep aside for 30 minutes. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
  4. Heat a pan and when the pan is hot, add the sesame seeds.
  5. When they have spluttered completely, add the marinated chicken. Stir together. Cover and cook.
  6. When the chicken is done and the liquids are evaporated, add the sliced scallions and take off the heat.
  7. Keep in a covered container till ready to use.


2 thoughts on “Quesadillas for Cinco de Mayo”

  1. I love how stuffed those quesadillas are. And who needs an excuse for a margarita? I’ve never used potatoes in the filling, thats interesting but I love all things potatoes.
    Like the authentic guac too! Costco is selling a large mortar/pestle for guac – I’m eyeing it.

  2. Pingback: Pepper Route

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