The theme when planning our meals this week was “use up what we have.” While I need fresh produce on a weekly basis, pantry staples like beans and grains have a much longer shelf life, and also a tendency to be forgotten once their role in a particular recipe is over.
I was brainstorming ways to use up some pinto beans, which I had purchased a very large quantity of when my grocery store was selling them for $0.30/lb (!), and some masa harina, the type of flour used to make tortillas and tamales. I had a bag of this from when I made tamales back in May. I was thinking I could make tortillas with it and turn these into quesadillas to serve with some refried beans. Simple and easy, right? Maybe too simple for me- it sounded boring. What if I stuff the tortillas with cheese before cooking them? Now that sounds more like a fun dish!
I sauteed a diced jalepeno with some sliced green onion, mixed it with some chevre, tucked this inside two uncooked tortillas, and cooked this on a pan with a little olive oil. What a fun new twist on Mexican food!
Well it turns out, I was only half way right about that. They are fun (and oh so tasty), but a quick google search of “stuffed tortillas” prior to writing this proved that this little snack was not my own invention, but rather a variation on a popular Salvadoran dish called “Pupusas de Queso.” That being said, keep in mind that my recipe doesn’t attempt to be faithful to tradition. (The recipe that I found from my search my from a site called Herbavoracious, and the recipe can be found here if you want to check it out- it’s a pretty awesome site!)
Spiced Tortillas Stuffed with Queso-Chile Filling:
(Vegetarian and gluten-free as is. For a vegan version fill with vegan cheese or refried beans)
Makes 4-6 stuffed tortillas
For the dough:
*1 cup masa harina (a flour of gound corn treated with lime that can be found in the ethnic founds section of most supermarkets)
*1 teaspoon each: ground cumin and smoked paprika
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*1 teaspoon baking powder
*1 tablespoon olive oil, plus a little extra for greasing the pan
*1 cup hot water
For the filling:
*1 jalepeno, minced
*3-4 green onions, sliced
*1 teaspoon olive oil
*1/2 cup crumbled chevre, queso fresco, grated cheddar, or a mixture of these. (I used chevre in mine, a mixture of chevre and cheddar in Andrew’s.)
1. To make the dough, combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl and mix with a fork. Pour in the 3/4 cup of the hot water and olive oil and mix with the fork. The dough should hold together but not be too sticky. You should be able to form a little ball in your hand with out it crumbling too much or sticking. If it crumbles, add a little more water, slowly, until the desired consistency is achieved. Divide mixture into 8,10, or 12 equal portions and roll into balls. Cover these with a damp cloth while you prepare the filling.
2. Saute the minced jalepeno and the white part of the green onion (reserve the green parts) in the olive oil until softened. Tranfer to a small dish and stir in the green parts.
3. On a sheet of waxed paper, flatten the balls of masa dough into disks, about 1/4 inch thick. You can use you hands to do this, but if you own a tortilla press, you could use this too, just be sure not to flatten them as thin as a traditional tortilla. Divide the chile-onion mixture equally among half of the masa disks, then top with about 1.5- 2 tablespoons cheese each. Cover the filled halves with a plain masa disk and press the edges to seal.
4. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray or a teaspoon of olive oil. Transfer 2-3 filled tortillas to the skillet (depending on how large your skillet in and how large your tortillas are) and cook about 4-5 minutes on each side, or until crispy and golden brown. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel while you cook the second batch.
Serve with salsa, cilantro pesto, guacamole or sour cream. Round out the meal with a side of pinto or black beans and a fresh green salad.
I served mine with salsa, but used some of my leftover pesto to make a salad dressing by thinning in down with fresh lime juice! The salad consisted of organic greens from our CSA, avocado, green onion, and these beautiful heirloom tomatoes I found:
Look at that color! If you haven’t tried heirloom tomatoes, they are worth seeking out! I think they tend to be more flavorful than many conventional tomatoes today, and they are definitely nicer to look at!