Big Girls, Test Kitchen: All-Day Breakfast Quesadillas

DISH: Breakfast Quesadillas with Cilantro Chimichuri and Chipotle Crema; Scrambled Egg Quesadillas with Caramelized Onion and Mushrooms
TYPE: Weekend-ish one-on-one brunch
MAIN INGREDIENTS: Egg, Tortilla, Cheese
OTHER BGSK QUESADILLAS: Cilantro Succotash; Curried Sweet Potato; Roasted Butternut Squash and Leek; Spinach Pie

Leftover tortillas present a huge issue for me. Even though they can last weeks without going stale, I seem destined to eat, in record time, any that grace the shelves of my fridge. This is partly due to the cheese and egg that sit on the shelf nearby, and when I’m in possession of tortillas the thought of late-night egg and cheese quesadillas is constantly on my mind. And yes, I mean quesadillas, plural.

It doesn’t matter how much I’ve eaten for dinner, or how much I’ve had to drink afterward. With the promise of those tortillas in the fridge, I come home on weekends at 1, 2, or 3 in the morning, fry up some eggs, stuff them inside the crisped shell, and wait for the cheese to envelop the egg and seal the whole perfect package together. After nights like these, I find myself on the couch in the morning beside an empty plate covered in greasy fingerprints. In the trash: the empty plastic tortilla packaging.

I’ve cooked fancier versions of these bad boys for company, especially ones cut into smaller triangles for cocktail parties, but it’s the eggy ones I make for myself that are ultimately the most satisfying. But, since I clearly cannot control myself around them, when I recently came into a package of tortillas I was determined to use them up in a civilized way, with egg, cheese–and someone else on the other side of the table.

To use up the first few rounds, I lured Essie down to my apartment from the Upper West Side for quesadillas made fancy with chimichurri and chipotle crema. It was a Friday afternoon, but since we both don’t have 9-to-5 day jobs, it might as well have been the weekend. We devoured our quesadillas while catching up on the latest in boyfriends, friends, and potential 9-to-5 jobs.

On Saturday, Will, the object of the above boyfriend conversation woke me begging for a breakfast quesadilla. I wasn’t in the mood for food yet, since my stomach was still a bit full from the previous night’s steak dinner, and my head hurt a little from the wine. His craving might have come from the Cilantro Succotash Quesadillas we’d recently posted on the blog–a dish made for the first time months before Will was in the picture. But it also might have come from me bragging about the feast I’d made Essie the day before, which I’d told him about via email while he was eating mediocre pizza at the office. Mainly, the factor that motivated me to get out of bed was knowing that if I didn’t get rid of the two remaining tortillas in my fridge right then and there, Will might not be there later that night to stop me from eating both of them by myself. So I got up, tossed together some eggs with the leftover mushrooms from the night before, and got to work caramelizing onions.

When we finished eating, I was ready to go back to sleep on the couch, though contrary to my former quesadilla behavior it was 2pm, not 2am. Fortunately, as I mentally prepared to get up, Will came over and collected my greasy plate, took it to the sink, and did the dishes.

Unfortunately, I have been craving quesadillas ever since.

From my kitchen, where cheese and tortillas are my bread and butter, to yours,



Breakfast Quesadillas with Cilantro Chimichurri and Chipotle Crema
Makes 2 servings

Traditional chimichurri uses parsley and is thinned with a combination of oil and water. For a tortilla-friendly version, I’ve recommended that you only puree until it reaches a paste, not a creamy condiment. To use for other purposes (or to drizzle on top of the finished quesadilla), continue adding oil and/or water until the mixture thins.

3 eggs
¼ tsp salt
pinch cayenne
2 8-inch tortillas
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

For the chimichurri:

1 cup cilantro leaves
1 small garlic clove
½ lime, juiced
1 tsp white wine vinegar
olive oil

For the crema:

3 tbsp sour cream
1 small canend chipotle chili, minced
½ tsp adobo sauce from the can
pinch of salt
hit of lime juice

Combine the ingredients for the crema in a small bowl, set aside. This can be done days in advance.

In a mini food processor, pulse the cilantro, garlic, lime juice, and vinegar until roughly chopped. Add the olive oil in a steam until the mixture becomes a finely chopped paste (probably a little less than ¼ cup), but not too thin. Taste for seasoning and add salt accordingly. This can be stored in the fridge for a day or so.

In a small bowl, beat the eggs with the salt and cayenne.

On a cutting board arrange the tortillas side by side. Slather the chimichurri on each round, just enough to cover them with herbs but not make them soggy (you may have leftovers). Divide a 1/2 cup of cheese between the two tortillas.

In a small non-stick sauté pan, scramble the eggs over low heat until just coming together (they should still be rather wet). Spread the eggs between the two tortillas, cover with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese, and fold them in half, pressing down so they are glued together.

Clean out the pan and return it to the stove over high heat. Get the pan hot, then toast the tortillas (one at a time depending on the size of your pan) on both sides, until dark and crispy with cheese oozing out the sides.

Serve immediately with a generous dollop of chipotle crema and some extra cilantro leaves for garnish.

Scrambled Egg Quesadillas with Caramelized Onion and Mushrooms
Makes 2 servings

This quesadilla is basically a pared-down version of the breakfast quesadilla above. You can use whatever veggie leftovers you have on hand. I always have an onion lying around, and it is easy enough to caramelize it while arranging the other ingredients.

½ onion, caramelized (see here for technique)
1 cup chopped cremini or white button mushrooms
1 garlic clove, minced
pinch cumin
pinch chili powder
pinch cayenne
3 eggs, beaten
½ cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, chopped
2 8-inch tortillas
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

In a small non-stick sauté pan, caramelize the onions over medium-low heat in a tablespoon of olive oil. Stir occasionally until the onions are fully browned and soft, about 15 to 20 minutes (more if you are using a whole onion). Set aside.

Add the mushroom to the pan with a little additional oil and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add the onions back to the pan, add the spices, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for two more minutes, allowing the flavors to combine.

In the meantime, arrange the tortillas side-by-side on a cutting board. Divide half the cheese between the two rounds.

Add the eggs to the pan and toss until just combined—they should be very moist.

Spread the egg-onion mixture over the two tortillas in one layer. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and fold in half, pressing down so the sides adhere.

Clean out the pan and return it to the stove over high heat. Toast the tortillas (one at a time depending on the size of your pan) on both sides, until dark and crispy with cheese oozing out the sides.

Serve immediately, with whatever condiments (hot sauce, sour cream) you enjoy.

  • Esther

    I can attest to the deliciousness of Phoebe's quesadillas! I am still dreaming of the delightful combo of cheesey and eggy goodness.

    Coincidentally I made the cilantro succotash quesadillas last night! Great minds think alike!

  • Chrissy

    omg, another to bookmark here!…

  • Sweet and Savory

    Just found your blog, love it! And excited about your book – it is also my dream to turn my 1st year of blogging into a book….any tips?

  • Chef Aimee

    Oh these are lovely indeed and look like all they need is a side of mimosa! :)

  • Nicole

    All of these quesadillas look fantastic! I can completely relate to the problem of left over tortillas – they never last long around here. I even make my own and try to make quadruple what I think we will need and then freeze the rest. It just turns out that we eat more quesadillas, fajitas, cheese crisps and the such.

  • Dgrub

    You quesadillas looks great and Chimichurri are amazing. Here's a related versatile quesadillas recipe for your reference. If you try, let us know what you think.

  • Ann Marie

    mmmmm. this looks oh so yummy!

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