Easy Cheesy Beef Quesadillas
I have yet to meet a combination of ground beef and cheese that doesn’t make the people I live with extremely happy. They are not unusual in that respect, I know, which is why tucked amidst the salad recipes and salmon dishes, I continue to pepper this blog with dishes such as One-Skillet Cheesy Beef and Macaroni and Grilled Cheeseburgers with Herb Sauce. Really, let’s hear it for ground beef. And cheese. And Cheesy Ground Beef Quesadillas.
What Kind of Cheese to Use in Mexican Quesadillas
Use any delicious melty cheeses you like—I picked cheddar and havarti, but a Mexican blend is terrific, a blend of two other cheeses (or more), or just a single cheese, be it havarti, cheddar, provolone, gouda, Monterey Jack, mozzarella, etc. Other Mexican Cheeses like queso fresco can be used, but they might not get as melty – it would good to use a combo of queso fresco, or cotija, and a meltier cheese like the ones listed above.
1 pound ground beef
1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup roughly chopped spinach or baby kale
½ teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro optional
4 teaspoons unsalted butter divided
8 8-inch flour tortillas
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
1 cup shredded havarti
Guacamole, sour cream, salsa and lime wedges to serve
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, and brown the beef, breaking it up with a spoon until it is all browned and crumbly, about 5 minutes. Turn it into a colander to drain, and carefully wipe out the skillet.
Return the skillet to medium heat and add the vegetable or olive oil. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and sauté for 3 minutes until the onion starts to soften. Add the tomato paste, spinach, garlic and chili powder and stir for another minute until the spinach is wilted and everything is well combined. Return the beef to the skillet and stir until everything is blended. Stir in the cilantro if using, turn the mixture into a bowl, and wash and dry the skillet (or grab a new skillet).
Combine the cheddar and havarti in a bowl. Place the skillet over medium heat and add a half teaspoon of butter. Place a tortilla in the pan. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the cheese mixture over half of the quesadilla, and distribute 1/8 of the beef mixture over the cheese. Top that with another 2 tablespoons of the shredded cheese. Flip the bare half of the tortilla over the filling, cover the pan, and sauté for about 2 minutes until the bottom is golden and the cheese has started to melt, then use a spatula to flip the half-moon quesadilla, and continue to cook, uncovered, until all of the cheese is melted and the underside is browned, 2 to 3 minutes.
Remove the quesadilla to a cutting board and let the quesadilla sit for a minute before you slice into 2 or 3 wedges. Repeat until all of the quesadillas are cooked. Serve with guacamole, salsa, sour cream and lime wedges.