It’s Cinco de Mayo, and far be it from me to spoil a tradition. A tradition of eating Mexican food, that is.
The quesadilla is a fantastic vehicle for using up leftovers. Throw some random scraps with some grated cheese between a couple of tortillas, and you’re set. The difficult part is making sure those elements actually work together. Broccoli might not be the first thing you think of when you think of a quesadilla. In fact, I can’t think of a single Mexican dish I’ve ever seen that had broccoli in it. Why not push boundaries a little bit?
This quesadilla features smoked gruyere cheese, chopped steamed broccoli, leftover chicken, and cilantro in whole wheat tortillas. It’s easy, hearty, and mighty tasty too. It’s a great way to get some more broccoli in your gullet. Or the gullet of a loved one.
Broccoli is the quintessential vegetable that people think everyone hates, but really most people are perfectly okay with it. Some of us even like it! The trick is not to overcook it, and steaming it in a steamer insert placed over a pot of simmering water (for about 8 minutes) is the best way to make sure you don’t. You can cook it by another method if you like, but they say steaming broccoli increases its cholesterol lowering powers. However you cook it, though, you’ll be ingesting a metric ton of vitamins C, K, and A, along with folate and fiber. This is science, people. Science.
If you have some leftover cooked chicken around, this is a great way to finish it up. If you don’t, you can quickly poach or grill a chicken breast, or use whatever protein source you happen to have lying around.
Smoky Broccoli Quesadilla with Chicken (makes 1 large; serves 2)
- cooking spray
- 2 whole wheat tortillas
- 3/4 cup grated smoked gruyere cheese
- 3/4 cup finely chopped cooked broccoli
- 1/2 cup shredded cooked chicken
- 1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
- salsa or guacamole for serving
1. Place a skillet over medium heat and spray lightly with cooking spray. While it gets hot, lay one tortilla on a prep surface and load on the cheese first, then the broccoli, chicken, and cilantro leaves. Try to evenly distribute everything, and don’t put anything too close to the edges.
2. Place the second tortilla on top and carefully transfer to the hot skillet. Gently press down on the top tortilla to compact the quesadilla a bit. Lightly spray the exposed top tortilla with cooking spray. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 2 minutes, then carefully flip the quesadilla over (you might want to use the combination of a spatula and your hand to keep the filling from falling out – be careful not to burn yourself!) Cook for about 1 minute on the other side. The cheese should be completely melted, and the tortillas browned. Remove from skillet and cut into wedges. Serve with salsa or guacamole.
Happy cinco de Mayo!