As I do with grilled cheese sandwiches, I like to get all sorts of creative with my quesadillas. Sure, the more traditional versions are delicious, but food is supposed to be fun and part of that fun is to mix and match. Ladies, we do this with fashion separates all the time, and I'm sure you can agree that some of your cutest outfits have come from stepping outside the box and throwing together something new. That's pretty much what I did with this quesadilla. I peered into my fridge yesterday, staring longingly at the other fun ingredients I had that would make some incredibly fancy dinners, but my eyes lingered on the remaining mushrooms I had scored last week at the farmer's market. Figured I should use 'em before they went bad. Thought they'd go nicely with the remaining Gouda I had been meaning to use in a new grilled cheese recipe (which will happen at some point, I promise) and had considered making a different sandwich, but decided a warm flour tortilla was more up my alley at the time. But just mushrooms & cheese didn't offer me the right amount of aesthetic appeal - I like pretty food! - nor did I feel like I had anything rich in vitamins to help offset the guilt of the cheese... what to do, what to do? Spinach! Who doesn't love the spinach & mushroom combo on a pizza? Mushrooms, and spinach, and Gouda, oh my! I was already excited at my new quesadilla prospect.
Before I bust out this uber-easy recipe, I want to point out once again the importance of being creative when you don't have much to work with, whether it be ingredient-wise or time-wise. I could have chosen to have a plain Gouda quesadilla and call it a day, which would have been fine by me. However, it wouldn't have been very exciting. These days, we're all looking for ways to enjoy life to its fullest within very limited means, and not feel deprived of the things we used to enjoy just a few short years ago (like eating out, etc.), and a big way that I do that is by matching - if not surpassing - what the average restaurant could serve me. Somewhere out there is a restaurant that might have this same dish on the menu (though I haven't found it yet), but I'm certain they would charge me about 2-3x as much as what I spent on making it myself. Not to knock restaurants, because I love them and miss eating out. But chefs get creative and bring you amazing meals, and guess what? They're humans like us and didn't always know how to do that. I didn't always know I could be as inventive as I've gotten over the past year and a half, but here I am doing it. And so can you. Even if it is with something as simple as a quesadilla.
Mushroom, Spinach, and Gouda Quesadillas (Serves 2; Total Cost per Serving: $3)
4 large flour tortillas
2/3 c shredded Gouda cheese
1/2 c white mushrooms, sliced
1/2 c baby spinach
2 T butter
1 t crushed garlic
1/4 t garlic salt
1/4 t lemon pepper
Couple glugs of olive oil
Rinse mushrooms and pat dry. Slice into thick pieces (about 1/4") so they are still nice & chunky after being sauteed. In a small pan melt the 2 T of butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and heat until a light golden brown. Add the mushrooms, garlic salt, and lemon pepper, and sautee lightly until the mushrooms become tender. Do not overcook!
In a large skillet, heat some of the olive oil over medium heat, making sure the entire skillet is coated. Heat each tortilla by heating on one side until bubbles form, piercing the steam bubbles carefully, then flipping onto the other side until both sides are a very light golden brown. Add about 1/2 the cheese (1/3 c) and spread evenly on the tortilla. Cover and let heat for about 1-2 minute to allow the cheese to melt quickly. Add the spinach, followed by 1/2 the sauteed mushrooms. Top with the second tortilla and flip onto the other side to make sure both sides are evenly heated. Serve with Pico de Gallo or with some of the extra juices from the sauteed mushrooms, and enjoy!
Note: I made mine with a single tortilla and flipped it closed omelette-style as you can see by the picture, which is a great way to cut about 140 calories. Saves you a few cents per serving, too. Either way you make it, it's still pretty tasty!