Quesadillas are a treat suitable for any season

Entertaining

A great side to serve with chili, they also work as an appetizer

Entertaining

March 02, 2003|By Betty Rosbottom | Betty Rosbottom,Special to the Sun

Although my husband and I do not belong to a gourmet eating club, we do have a small circle of friends with whom we occasionally share potluck suppers.

Our group follows no particular schedule. Instead, we assemble at random times of the year, when one of us proposes a date.

Several days ago, I initiated a get-together to counter the midwinter blahs. I suggested that we collect at our house for a Friday night supper and, adding a new twist, that we watch a movie afterward. Our clan, made up of devoted movie fans, met this idea enthusiastically and chose the classic comedy Some Like It Hot as the evening's entertainment.

We decided to coordinate the menu with the film's title and selected a spicy chili to anchor our meal. To precede our hot entree, there was a platter of piquant, curry-scented deviled eggs, which we nibbled in front of a roaring fire. A big bowl of chili was arranged on the buffet and served with white rice and garnishes of minced red onion, grated cheddar, sour cream and homemade guacamole. A basket of steaming-hot corn bread, a platter of grilled quesadillas and a mango-avocado salad completed the spread. Since one of the guests had a birthday the following day, we finished with a chocolate cake topped with candles.

When we adjourned to watch the 1959 Billy Wilder hit, starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, there were bowls of jelly beans, gummy bears and mini chocolate bars for snacking.

My dinner contribution was Corn and Black Bean Quesadillas. For the filling, I combined sauteed corn kernels, chopped red onion and black beans with seasonings of lime, cilantro and grated pepper Jack cheese.

Flour tortillas were stuffed with this mixture half an hour before serving and needed only to be quickly heated on a stove-top grill or pan-fried in a skillet before serving. Even though it was winter, I was able to find fresh corn, but the quesadillas are equally good made with defrosted frozen kernels. I also used well-rinsed and dried canned black beans, rather than cooking the beans from scratch. This proved to be a real time saver as well.

The quesadillas made a delectable accompaniment to the chili, but they could easily be offered as appetizers or as an accompaniment to a salad for a light lunch or supper.

--Distributed by Tribune Media Services International.

Corn and Black Bean Quesadillas

Serves 12

2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil plus extra for cooking quesadillas

1 cup chopped red onion

1 cup fresh corn kernels or 1 cup frozen corn, defrosted and patted dry

one 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed, drained and patted dry

1/2 teaspoon grated lime peel

2 teaspoons lime juice

3/4 cup grated pepper Jack cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon chopped cilantro, divided

scant 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional

Six (8-inch) flour tortillas

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium high heat.

When hot, add onion and corn. Cook, stirring until softened and just lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in black beans, lime peel and juice, cheese, salt and 2 tablespoons cilantro. Taste and, if spicier flavor is desired, add red pepper flakes.

Place tortillas on a work surface. Spread about 1/2 cup of corn / black bean mixture over half of each tortilla. Fold tortillas in half and press down to form half-moon shapes. (Tortillas can be prepared 30 minutes in advance. Cover with a slightly dampened kitchen towel and leave at cool room temperature until heating.)

If you have a stove-top grill pan, oil it lightly. If you do not, use a large skillet and coat the bottom with a little oil. Place grill pan or skillet over medium-high heat and, when hot, add enough quesadillas to fit comfortably in a single layer. Cook until golden brown on the outside and the cheese has melted inside, 2 minutes or less per side. Remove and cover loosely with foil, while you finish cooking remaining quesadillas.

Place cooked quesadillas on a chopping board and with a large, sharp knife, cut each into 2 equal triangles. Arrange quesadillas in overlapping rows on a heated serving platter. Sprinkle with remaining cilantro.

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