Saturday, August 6, 2011

Chicken Quesadillas, because leftovers are boring.

In our house, we have a problem with leftovers. That problem is as simple as this: we don't like them. Having spent many years in our parents' homes being taught not to waste by coming home from school and barging into the kitchen to be greeted by reheated leftovers, we rejoiced at the idea of not having to deal with lifeless leftovers in our future grown up homes. Never again, our pre-married selves screamed. How naïve and mistaken we turned out to be.

It starts with what many experts have stated time and time again but falls on mostly deaf ears. We eat with our eyes first. This is evident in the pretty plates presented to voracious customers at restaurants, it is displayed in the homes of those hosting dinner parties and it is especially present during the holy month of Ramadan.

You enter the kitchen and gradually begin increasing the quantities you will be serving. A few extra grams won't hurt and neither will one more cup. Everyone will need to eat more than that, or so you think. After creating a lavish spread of complementary colors and watching everyone eat to their heart's content, you push them to push a little more into themselves and say a little prayer for no leftovers. It almost never works.

After one too many a time of leftovers going bad, the pangs of guilt consumed my thoughts. I would open the fridge and sigh in despair at the foods that I didn't want to eat for days in a row.

What a sad mess it all was.

Wilting salads clung to the edges of the bowl to avoid drowning in their dressing, pastas drank up all their beautiful sauces to become gluey, unfriendly specimens and chicken would just become cold, unappetizing and boring enough not to have any appetizing way to describe it.

As easy as it is for some people to go through life inconsiderately, with no thought of another's suffering, it was not about that I could not do it anymore - I would not.

Leftover bread would be toasted and made into finely ground bread crumbs, to be used later on breaded chicken or sprinkled onto a simple linguine dish. Apples would be saved from their fateful death and cooked into apple sauce and best of all, rotisserie chickens would be reinvented to fit into everything - creamy chicken soups, cold sandwiches and crisp salads.

Forcing myself to conjure up my previous self, that which worked at an advertising agency, reinvention was key.

Sohour, your past-midnight Ramadan meal, is an ideal occasion for leftovers and one of the most filling things to choose to eat is the Mexican quesadilla; and for me, the chicken quesadilla. Load it up with onions, mushrooms, peppers and olives or keep it plain, it always turns out to be better than the thought of eating reheated chicken.

Overcoming my leftovers dilemma, while liberating, also reminds me on a daily basis of the hungry and the weak and of what I can do to stretch what we have a little further so that our home doesn't end up one that is wasteful and weak-spirited. Before you groan about the day-old dry chicken lounging in your fridge, think again. You could end up making something you would order at a restaurant, except this time you would know where that cooked chicken is coming from and how old it actually is. That's a better deal in my book. I'm taking it.

Chicken Quesadillas

You'll need:
1 large flour tortilla
½ a grilled chicken breast
½ a medium onion, sliced
¼ cup of grated mozzarella and mild white cheddar
salt and pepper to taste

Moderately heat a lightly oiled pan and add the onions. Add some salt and pepper and stir occassionally until they begin to soften. This should take around 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle the chicken with some salt and pepper and add it to the pan to toss with the onions. Remove from the heat.

On a stable surface, place one flour tortilla at a time and spread the onion-chicken mixture over half of the tortilla. Sprinkle liberally with grated cheese and fold the other half over to form a semi-circle and press firmly on the seam to seal it. Assemble as many quesadillas as needed in the same manner.

Heat a lightly oiled pan over high heat until it begins to smoke. Once it begins smoking, reduce the heat to moderate and grill your quesadillas on one side until nicely colored. Turn over the quesadillas and continue to cook until the cheese has melted completely. This whole process should take about 4 minutes per quesadillas. Transfer with a spatula to a cutting board and cut in half. Serve hot.


  1. I love how the cheese is almost oozing out .. it's been quite sometime that i had quesadillas!

  2. I love quesadillas. Its been a while since I had some though. Yours look mighty delicious! How is Ramadan going for you?

  3. Oh man, that looks so good! Look at that gooey cheese and crispy outside... yum!

  4. Kankana: Make them now!

    Nazneen: Ramadan has been treating me very well this year. Thanks for dropping by.

    April: Yum is right. Thanks. :)


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