The other Tuesday night I did the thing where I invited friends over before thinking about what I would serve them for dinner. Four and a half years after moving to Brooklyn when everyone I knew lived in Manhattan, and a year after I wrote about these Brie and Red Pepper Crostini as bites I could serve to people stopping by unannounced–except for that never happened–we live in the midst of friends close enough to come over for an impromptu Tuesday night dinner. Lucky!
Only I didn’t have much to serve these friends, and I invited them for about a half hour too early to get deep into cooking anything. As I sprinted home on my bike, I mentally scanned the contents of my fridge and pantry imagining what I could whip up, and fixating on certain ingredients – extra asparagus from these, pre-grated cheese from a taco party, a lot of basil from a filming project we’d been working on over the weekend, and a container of the salad dressing I can’t get enough of. By the time I lugged my bike into the basement, I had a plan.
The centerpiece of dinner, the quesadillas, might not hide very well the fact that they were invented by necessity. The ingredients do appear a little hodgepodge. But as soon as you take a bite you’ll see why I’ve made these repeatedly in the weeks since Tuesday night’s dinner. The creamy chipotle spread brings a kick and a luscious richness. As the cheese melts, it glues the quesadilla together and enrobes the asparagus stalks, which are a nod to the season and balance out a the otherwise indulgent mix of ingredients.
I served these with a salad – you could do greens topped with avocado and radish, perhaps – and some tomato soup.
Asparagus Chipotle Quesadillas
Serves 4; easily scaled up or down
These also happen to be an excellent lunch or dinner for one – just make one quesadilla instead of 4. Or, if you’d like to serve as appetizers, cut each quesadilla into four or five wedges and plate around a bowl of Cilantro-Lime Crema. These are gluten free if you use corn tortillas.
20 asparagus stalks, washed and trimmed by snapping off the bottoms where they snap off naturally
1/2 cup mayonnaise
4 teaspoons finely chopped chipotle pepper with adobo sauce from the can – use a bit less if you or your guests are sensitive to spice
1 cup grated cheddar
4 8-inch flour tortillas or 8 smaller corn tortillas.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Toss the asparagus with about 2 tablespoons olive oil and several big pinches of salt.
In a small bowl, combine the mayo and the chipotle. Taste for spiciness, adding more adobo or mayo to suit your tastes.
For each quesadilla: Spread one half of each tortilla with chipotle mayo. Sprinkle the other half with cheese. Lay down the asparagus in the cheese – it’s fine if the tips stick out. Fold the chipotle half over the cheese-asparagus half and transfer each tortilla to a baking sheet brushed with oil. Brush the tops of the quesadillas with oil as well.
Bake for 15 minutes, until the tortillas are puffed and golden, the cheese is melted, and the asparagus has browned. Serve as soon as possible. (Though to be honest, these are also good room temp.)