My sophomore year in high school, my roommate taught me how to make quesadillas. We had to take turns in the dorm periodically cooking for our floor-mates whenever we had meetings. And Diana, being homesick for her friends and family food, wanted to introduce us to her favorite snack – the quesadilla. Hailing from East L.A., speaking fluent Spanish, she felt torn away from her Mexican roots. We spent many a night on our dilapidated couch talking about home, being scholarship kids in a prestigious school, trying to blend in and make friends. Our two favorite indulgences back then were fried dumplings and cheese pizza – we practically lived on those two things.
That is until quesadillas came into my life. I remember how the first bite tasted and I remember, I couldn’t stop eating them. While we couldn’t get our hands on real Mexican queso, Diana confided that her family used Monterey jack cheese for years and they liked it just fine. And since I’m a fan of melted cheese in general, it was quite all right by me as well.
And so the day after my housewarming party – which was quite a bit of fun and well attended, though I missed some friends who were stuck in airports and under the weather; I needed a lazy day of cleaning up, catching up on reading and some comfort food. It was the first really chilly day of the season and as I went through some old pictures, I came upon a picture of me and Diana, on our first day at school. And I knew exactly what I was making for dinner that evening. With my new kitchen island assembled, I had space to chop the ingredients and set them aside. I enjoyed each bite and even though my tomato went rotten and got chucked, and I forgot to pick up a jalapeno, the quesadilla and the accompanying guacamole were heavenly, making my Sunday evening feel almost like a mini-vacation.
Not that I wouldn’t turn down a real holiday – I’m long-overdue since the last one was in March. Any suggestions where a cash-strapped girl might go? I’m kind of thinking the West Coast.
1 cup shredded cheese
2 avocados, mashed, or preferably cut into very small cubes
1 tomato, chopped, juice squeezed out
½ jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
¼ onion, finely chopped
Juice of ½ lime
¼ cup cilantro, finely minced
Salt & pepper
Prepare the guacamole by mixing together the avocados, tomato, jalapeno, onion, cilantro and lime juice. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Set aside while you prepare the quesadillas.
Heat the tortilla in a skillet over a medium heat. Sprinkle enough cheese to generously cover half of the tortilla and watch the cheese melt. Check the bottom of the tortilla and if it is golden-brown, fold the cheese-less part over the cheesy part and press down with spatula. Flip the folded quesadilla over to brown the other side for a minute or two. Remove from heat.
Repeat with remaining tortillas and cheese. Serve with guacamole.