“When I eat with my friends, it is a moment of real pleasure, when I really enjoy my life.” – Monica Bellucci (Italian Actress)
After the craziness of Easter weekend I desperately needed a night with the girls for a catch-up session which would include the very serious topics of discussion such as; who cooked what, who fought with who and perhaps who ignited the flame of an old romance over the past few days. You know how wonderfully cathartic these evenings can be, right ladies? Sitting around with your best friends, drinking wine, telling stories, laughing, wiping away a tear, comforting one another and just being there to listen. It’s one of the most beautiful traditions of feminine culture.
I hadn’t had a girl’s night for a while so I decided that instead of going out, I would invite the girls over for dinner at my place where we could vent, laugh or cry as loud as we wanted to without bothering anyone. “What to cook?” I thought to myself as I wondered through the aisles of my local grocery store. I knew it had to be something light as I knew we had all over indulged over the Easter weekend. I also wanted it to be something fun, easy and healthy that we could all get stuck into while regaling each other with our tales. Slowly ingredients began to catch my eye; ripe avocados – which I think we are all ecstatic are back in season – blood red rosa tomatoes, mature cheddar and beautiful organic chicken breasts. There is simply one dish you make with this handful of ingredients; quesadillas of course!
Quesadillas are a Mexican dish where you place filling and cheese in between two tortillas and then grill in a pan until the cheese melts. Let’s be honest, you can’t go wrong with melted cheese. When I make my quesadillas I like to use chicken as the protein but you can use any protein you like from beef to tuna or even make them vegetarian by leaving out the meat altogether. If you are Banting you can use cauliflower wraps that are available at supermarkets these days, and the same goes for our gluten intolerant ladies as gluten-free wraps are readily available at most places. I love to marinate my chicken in a spicy marinade to really bring out the Mexican flavours and when making quesadillas ice cold beers are a must.
The girls arrived and were super excited to see that I was making quesadillas – although I don’t think they were too impressed when I gave them all jobs to do. I think that’s the great thing about this dish, the more people get stuck in and help the quicker it is to make. I had one friend grating cheese and another chopping tomatoes and spring onions, all the while we were sharing stories and pouring our hearts out.
Once the preparations were done the girls took their seats at my kitchen table, went into relax mode and continued chatting while I cooked the Mexican wonder. Quesadillas are a very casual meal to serve as you cook them one by one; so as one comes out of the pan you can just slice it up and share it among yourselves while the next one cooks. They are super easy to make and delicious the next day, that is if you have left-overs which I find is rarely the case.
A few hours later, with our stomachs significantly fuller and our hearts considerably lighter I thought to myself that I had to share this recipe and this experience with my Corporate Canvas kitchen rock stars. Do yourselves a favour ladies, invite your best gal pals over, crack open a few beers (or a bottle of wine, as has become our tradition), make quesadillas, chat, vent, laugh, cry – it will be food for your soul, in more ways than one.
Spicy Chicken Quesadillas
For the chicken and marinade:
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into strips
1 tablespoon dried chilli flakes (you can use less if you don’t want it to be too spicy)
¼ cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Juice of half a lemon
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
Salt and pepper
For the quesadillas:
8 flour tortilla wraps
Grated cheddar cheese
*Guacamole (see note below)
Rosa tomatoes, cubed
Spring onions, sliced
- To make the marinade, combine all the ingredients, whisk until well combined and pour over the chicken, set aside until you are done preparing the other ingredients. You can also marinade the chicken ahead of time and leave it in the fridge overnight.
- Once you have prepared all the ingredients for the quesadillas, fry the chicken in a sauce pan over high heat for about 10 minutes or until cooked through. Drain any excess oil from the chicken.
- To make the quesadillas, heat a large frying pan over medium to high heat. Place one flour tortilla on the base of the frying pan and being to assemble the ingredients on top, starting with the cheddar cheese, followed by the chicken, sour cream, guacamole, tomatoes and spring onions. Finish off with one final layer of cheddar cheese.
- Place the second tortilla over the top and press down gently. Leave it to heat through for about 2 minutes. Place a dinner plate over the quesadilla and flip it over so that the uncooked side is now on the bottom of the frying pan. Cook for a further two minutes.
- Slide the quesadilla onto a chopping board, leave to cool slightly and then cut into quarters.
*You can either used ready-made guacamole or make your own. To make your own, mash one to two avocados in a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, salt, pepper and chopped coriander leaves. You can also add some fresh chili to give it a kick.