Grilled Pepper (Rajas) Quesadillas
4 to 6 as an appetizer or 2 as a main course
- 4 Anaheim chiles (about 3/4 pound)
- 2 medium poblano chiles (about 1/2 pound)
- 1 small red bell pepper
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
- 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
- 8 7-inch flour tortillas
- 3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar
- 1/4 cup sour cream (optional)
- 1/2 cup green salsa (optional)
To roast peppers on the grill: Preheat a gas grill on high for 5 minutes or start a charcoal fire 30 minutes before cooking. Poke the peppers several times with a fork so the steam can escape. Place the peppers directly on the grate of your gas or charcoal grill and close the lid. Turn about every 5 minutes until evenly blackened.
To roast peppers in the oven: Preheat the broiler to high. Cut each pepper in half, scrape out all the seeds and place cut side down on a baking sheet. Place the tray under the broiler for 5 to 7 minutes, until the entire surface of each pepper is blistered and blackened.
With tongs or a big spoon, transfer the peppers to a brown paper bag, roll the top of the bag to seal and let the vegetables steam for at least 20 minutes. (The roasted peppers can be made 3 to 4 hours ahead or frozen for up to 2 months.) If making the quesadillas a bit ahead, preheat the oven to 200°F.
Remove the peppers from the bag and scrape off the blackened skin with a paring knife. Scrape away all the seeds and finely chop the peppers. (You will have about 1 1/2 cups.) Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until hot, about 1 minute. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until the onion is golden and soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the peppers, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring, until the mixture is fragrant, about 10 minutes.
In a separate skillet big enough to hold a tortilla, melt 1/4 teaspoon of the butter over medium heat. Add 1 tortilla and spoon 3 to 4 tablespoons of the pepper mixture on top, spreading to cover the surface. Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons cheddar. Cover with a second tortilla and gently press down on the quesadilla. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the cheese starts to melt and the underside is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Carefully flip the quesadilla with a spatula and cook until the cheese is completely melted and the underside is golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate and keep warm in the oven. (The quesadillas can be kept warm, covered with foil, for up to 30 minutes.)
Repeat with the remaining butter, tortillas, pepper mixture and cheese. Place each quesadilla on a plate and cut into 8 wedges. Serve with sour cream and salsa, if you like.
For a lighter, faster version, skip the tortillas and serve the pepper mixture in lettuce-leaf cups.
“Grilled Pepper (Rajas) Quesadillas” from Cat Cora’s Classics with a Twist by Cat Cora. Copyright ©2010 by Cat Cora. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.