Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Quesadillas with Homemade (or not) Corn Tortillas

After a weekend of pain from an abscessed tooth and then a soft foods diet the following weekend (because of stiches from a surgical root canal), I’ve finally been able to enjoy eating again. Real food, not mush. Oh, the simple pleasures in life we take for granted!

Ever since I bought my tortilla press last fall, I’ve been wanting to incorporate homemade corn tortillas into a blog post. Looking through the archives, I found more taco recipes than I realized, so that led me in the quesadilla direction instead.

The homemade tortillas are extremely easy and bring a fresh aspect that I’ve never experienced in a corn tortilla before. But by no means do you need to make homemade tortillas to enjoy this recipe. Good quality, fresh store-bought tortillas will work just fine, as will fresh flour tortillas.

Corn tortillas are made with masa harina, which looks similar to corn meal, but is not the same thing. Do not substitute corn meal or regular corn flour—they’re produced from different types of corn and are processed differently and won’t produce the same results.

I’ve seen masa harina in the international section and the baking aisle of large supermarkets in 8 pound bags. Knowing it would probably take me years to use that much, I ordered a 24-oz. bag of Bob’s Red Mill organic masa harina from Amazon. With organic, you can be assured it’s made from non-GMO corn.



For a time-saving convenience, I used a pre-shredded bag of slaw (Trader Joe’s organic), but if you have the time, by all means, shred your own. The slaw can be mixed up the day before (I think it tastes even better after a day in the fridge) and the caramelized onions and the mushroom mixture can all be made a day or two ahead of time as well. With all the bold flavors in this recipe, if you choose to go vegan by omitting the cheese, you’ll still have a delicious meal. Enjoy!

Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Quesadillas with Homemade (or not) Corn Tortillas

One 9 oz. bag pre-shredded coleslaw (green cabbage, red cabbage, carrot), or shred your own

2 scallions, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon celery seed

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon whole grain mustard

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

1 tablespoon orange juice, preferably fresh-squeezed

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Whisk together vinegar, mustard, maple syrup and orange juice. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, while whisking, until fully incorporated.

Place coleslaw mixture, scallions, and celery seed in a large bowl and toss to combine. Pour some of the dressing over and mix. Add more dressing as desired (you probably won’t use all of it). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill while you make the filling and tortillas, or overnight for even better flavor.

1 cup masa harina (see my babbling above for more info on masa harina)

Pinch of salt

¾ cup hot, but not boiling water

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the masa harina and salt. Stir in the hot water until combined. Knead with your hands for about a minute. It should feel smooth, but not sticky, and easily form a ball. If dough feels dry and crumbly, add a tablespoon of water. If too sticky, add a tablespoon more masa harina.

Cover the bowl and set aside for about a half hour while you make the filling (recipe below). After the dough has rested and your quesadilla fillings are made, divide dough into 8 pieces and roll each into a ball (they will each be about the size of a ping pong ball).

Cut the sides open of a quart sized zip-lock bag. Open your tortilla press and lay open bag on press. Place a ball of dough in the center of press and fold the other side of the bag over the dough. Close the top of the press over the dough and push down the handle to flatten the ball.

Heat a dry cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, lift the top half of the bag off the flattened dough and peel the dough off the other layer of plastic and place in the hot pan. Cook a minute or two and flip, cooking another minute or two more. Transfer to a clean tea towel and fold up to close.

Repeat with remaining dough, keeping cooked tortillas wrapped in the tea towel.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 large onion, thinly sliced

½ tablespoon brown sugar

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

8 oz. cremini (baby portabella) mushrooms, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ jalapeño pepper, minced (use as many of the seeds you’d like to get desired amount of heat)

Shredded cheese of choice, I used a Swiss/gruyere mixture, or omit cheese for a vegan version

Heat one tablespoon oil in a cast iron or other heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Stir in brown sugar and cook another minute or two. Add balsamic and cook for another 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Transfer onions to a plate and set aside.

Wipe out pan and place over medium heat and add second tablespoon of olive oil. When hot, add mushrooms and cook for several minutes, until they start releasing a little moisture. Stir in garlic and cook a few more minutes. Add minced jalapeño and cook another couple of minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

To assemble quesadillas, heat a cast iron skillet or grill pan over medium heat, brush with a little olive oil. Top one tortilla with some of the onion mixture, followed by mushroom mixture, and then cheese, if using. Place in pan and cook several minutes (I cover the pan to help the cheese melt). Once cheese is melted and bottom of tortilla is getting a little crisp, place another tortilla on top and press down. Carefully flip quesadilla and cook other side for another several minutes.

Transfer cooked quesadilla to a plate and cut into wedges. Serve topped with chilled coleslaw. Makes 4 quesadillas.


Spiced Sweet Potato Quesadilla with Blood Orange Salsa

Our vacation of almost two weeks is winding down and tomorrow we return to work. We enjoyed busy family Christmas celebration time, out of town travel and some time spent at the cabin, along with the better part of a week doing the “stay-cation” thing at home—it’s been absolutely wonderful! I even had time to redesign this blog—I hope you like it—feedback welcome!

But I’ll actually welcome the structure a work week brings back to my life. Even though I have kept up my exercise routine for the most part, vacation makes it all too easy for me to eat more than I should and it’s always the right time for a glass of wine (or two), you know, because I’m on vacation! I can feel all those extra calories. The work week routine will make it much easier to get back on track.

Yesterday while watching the North Dakota State University Football team win their third straight FCS National Championship (go Bison!!), I made these tasty quesadillas to munch on while we cheered my team on (I was a Bison and my dad has been professor at NDSU for decades).

The quesadilla recipe is from Naturally Ella, a beautiful food blog with mouth-watering photos and stand-out recipes. The salsa is my idea, inspired by the gorgeous blood oranges I picked up the day before.

To get rid of the membrane and showcase the striking blood orange color, you’ll want to supreme the oranges. Supreming is a technique that removes the membrane from citrus fruit so it can be served in pretty slices or chopped, as is the case with this lovely salsa. Instructions for supreming citrus here or head to YouTube for video instructions.

Spiced Sweet Potato Quesadilla with Blood Orange Salsa

½ medium red onion, roughly chopped
1 poblano pepper, roughly chopped
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and sliced ¼” thick
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing tortillas
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon sea salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
Juice from half a lime
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (optional)
4 whole wheat flour tortillas (use 6 corn tortillas for a gluten-free version)
4 ounces shredded cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, Colby, or even crumbled blue cheese)

2 Blood oranges, surpremed and chopped
1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced (include some of the seeds if you’d like some heat)
¼ cup diced red onion
Pinch of cumin
Pinch of sea salt

Plain yogurt or sour cream, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In large bowl, toss the onion and pepper with the sweet potato slices, olive oil, smoked paprika, garlic powder, sea salt and cayenne, until well coated. Line a large baking pan with parchment and spread vegetables in a single layer on pan. Roast until tender and lightly charred, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and toss roasted vegetables with lime juice and cilantro (if using).
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While vegetables are roasting, prepare the blood orange salsa: Combine chopped orange, diced jalapeño, red onion, cumin and salt. Taste and add more cumin or salt, if needed. Set aside.

Preheat grill, grill pan, or skillet over medium-low heat. Brush each tortilla with olive oil and place one tortilla in the pan. Cook for 30 seconds and flip, then layer the tortilla with cheese and sweet potato mixture. Top with another tortilla. Cook 3-4 minutes, then flip and cook about 3 more minutes until tortillas are crisp and cheese is melted. Remove from pan onto cutting board and cut into wedges. Repeat with remaining tortillas, cheese, and filling. Serve wedges topped with blood orange salsa and yogurt/sour cream, if desired.
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