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Meatless Monday: Blue Corn Mushroom Quesadillas

Meatless Monday is a global movement, a way of life. It’s not a campaign to turn everyone in the world vegetarian or vegan; in fact, many involved are meat-lovers. Eating less meat has been proven to reduce the risk of disease, curb obesity and has important environmental impacts, too. Will you join us in giving up meat, just for one day a week?

One of my favorite go-to quick meals is a quesadilla. They’re so easy and versatile, I rarely use a recipe. I just throw in leftovers or whatever sounds good at the time. But when I came across Chuck’s blue corn mushroom and cheese quesadillas, I knew I had to give the recipe a whirl.

The flavor combination in this dish is perfect. Mushrooms take on a nice heat from the jalapenos and provide satisfying heartiness to each bite. Creamy queso fresco provides cool balance to the spiciness. You can easily use store-bought tortillas here, but if you can find the ingredients, I strongly suggest making your own. They’re easy to assemble, and homemade is always better.

Blue Corn Mushroom and Cheese Quesadillas
PORCINI MUSHROOMS:
2 tablespoons/30 ml olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
8 ounces porcini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
1 jalapeno or serrano chile, seeded and minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
A few sprigs of fresh cilantro or epazote

Blue Corn Tortillas:
1 cup/250 ml harina de maiz azul (blue cornmeal)
1 cup/250 ml masa harina
1/2 teaspoon/2 ml salt
About 1 cup/250 ml warm water

1 cup/250 ml queso fresco
Salsa, for serving, optional

Cook’s Note: Queso fresco is a fresh Mexican cheese. You can substitute with a soft goat cheese or fresh ricotta. Epazote is a Mexican herb that resembles tarragon.

For the porcinis: Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy frying pan. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and chiles and continue cooking until golden brown, about 5 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cilantro and set aside.

For the blue corn tortillas: In a bowl, mix the harina de maiz azul, masa harina and salt with the warm water using a wooden spoon until a dough is formed, about 2 minutes. Let stand, covered tightly with plastic wrap, for 2 minutes.

Divide the dough into 12 parts. Roll each part into a ball, keeping the balls you are not using in a plastic bag so that they don’t dry out. (If the dough does get too dry, add a little extra water.)

Place a ball on a sheet of plastic wrap and cover it with another sheet. Flatten slightly with the palm of your hand, and then finish rolling with a rolling pin, working quickly and lightly. Flip the package over and repeat until an approximately 6-inch circle is formed. Repeat with all the dough balls.

Preheat a flat griddle or pan to high heat.

Peel away the top layer of plastic wrap, flip the package over gently and peel away the other piece of plastic wrap. Transfer to the griddle.

Bake on the first side for about 30 seconds. Flip and bake on the second side for about 30 seconds. Flip once again. Remove from the griddle and keep warm.

To assemble, spread with a quarter of the cheese on 1 tortilla. Garnish with a quarter of the mushrooms and top with another tortilla. Place on the griddle, turn the heat down to medium-high and press down gently. Cook until the cheese begins to melt. Flip the quesadilla, and heat for another minute. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Serve with salsa if desired.

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