Vegetarian Cheese Quesadilla
Quesadillas are easy to make and fun to eat. We had relatives over for dinner tonight, so I made some quesadilla canapés as an appetizer. I prepared two fillings, one with shredded beef and a vegetarian option as well.
I wanted the vegetarian ones to have a chewy consistency, so I did not use vegetarian chorizo as I usually do when I make vegetarian Mexican dishes. I used shredded, fried tofu that I blended with harissa to add a little kick to the dish. Harissa is a spicy paste that is used as a condiment in Northern African cuisine. I think the grainy paste blended with the shredded tofu loosely resembles the texture of the meat version. I'll post the recipe for harissa tomorrow.
Yields: 8 servings16 (5-inch diameter) mini-tortillas
1 (12-ounce) package firm tofu
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons harissa (check back tomorrow for the recipe)
1 small white onion, thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 Serrano green chile pepper, sliced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup guacamole
1 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped
For the shredded tofu:
Cut the piece of tofu into 1/4 to 1/2-inch even slices. Pour the oil into a large pan, add half the amount of sliced Serrano peppers and cook until they soften and change color a bit. Remove and discard the pepper slices from the pan. The reason for cooking the Serrano pepper first is to provide a nice aroma to the oil. Pan fry the slices of tofu until slightly golden. Don't overcook the pieces or they'll start to get hard. The tofu should still be moist and able to absorb the harissa later. Transfer all the tofu to a paper towel and let it cool.
Finely chop the rest of the Serrano pepper.
Cut the pieces of fried tofu into very thin shreds. Set aside on a plate.
For the sautéed onion and green bell pepper:
In the same pan, re-heat the oil. Add the onions and cook until slightly golden (may take 4-5 minutes). Add the green bell pepper. Cook for another 2 minutes until tender. Transfer to a bowl. Set aside.
For the harissa-seasoned tofu:
Bring the heat to the highest setting. In the pan, add the remaining Serrano peppers and the shredded tofu. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until it is slightly golden and add harissa. Stir constantly and cook for about 2-3 minutes until the color changes and all the harissa is blended with the shredded tofu. Once the tofu is ready, remove from the stove and sprinkle with the chopped cilantro. Squeeze the lime over the tofu.
Assembling the quesadillas:
In a hot, un-greased cast-iron skillet, re-heat 2 tortillas, one at a time, for about 20 to 30 seconds on each side. Decrease the heat to low and leave one tortilla in the skillet. Sprinkle some Monterey Jack cheese on it, add a layer of onions and green bell peppers and shredded tofu. Finish with the other tortilla. Press the quesadilla using a large spatula. Flip and cook for another 30 seconds. Repeat until all the ingredients are used.
Transfer to a cutting board. Slice into 6 pieces, using a pizza wheel cutter. The cheese should be melted and "stringy".
Stack a mound of quesadillas on a platter. Top with guacamole and sour cream and serve the rest in dipping cups on the side.
You can also garnish the quesadillas with salsa. Unfortunately, believe it or not, I had no more tomatoes. We had used them all to make stuffed tomatoes last night for dinner when my cousin's husband came to visit.
I absolutely love Thanh Son tofu. If you live in the Bay Area, you have to try it. They sell in almost all the Asian markets in downtown San Jose and their main shop is on 2857 Senter Road, San Jose. It's a very little shop but everything is very good. Their factory makes the best fresh tofu texture. This is the perfect place for vegetarians. I always get 2 to 3 pieces of their tofu every week.
Published By: on October 16, 2009.