Corn and black bean quesadillas with Pepper Jack

Corn and black bean quesadillas with Pepper Jack

Whether you’re a college kid nearing the end of term and dollars, or perhaps you need a quick snack and can’t be bothered to whip up something magical, the quesadilla has been a best friend to many.

Good plain or filled with all sorts of fantasticness, quesadillas are misconceived by most Americans. I applaud Sean Lawler for pointing this out. In Cook’s Illustrated: American Classics 2010, he wrote the most accurate anecdote about quesadillas I’ve ever read:

A truly “authentic” quesadilla is just a humble kitchen snack: a fresh handmade tortilla folded around a mild melting cheese, quickly friend or crisped on a griddle, then devoured just as quickly. As the quesadilla migrated north of the border, however, it evolved into a greasy happy-hour spectacle for beer and burger joints, becoming nothing more than bad Mexican pizza: stale and soggy supermarket tortillas filled with “buffalo chicken” or “Cajun shrimp” and sliced into big, floppy triangles.

On the hunt for the perfect quesadilla, Lawler did a nice job of offering up something far tastier than nuking some shredded cheese atop a tortilla in the microwave, yet it’s still simple and easy on the wallet.

Corn and black bean quesadillas with Pepper Jack

Recipe after the jump.

Corn & Black Bean Quesadillas with Pepper Jack  (original recipe)
Yields 2 servings (1 if you’re really hungry)


2 (8-inch) flour tortillas
1/3 C thawed frozen corn
2 tsp vegetable oil
1/3 C red onion (I used half an onion)
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/3 C cooked/canned black beans
2 tsp lime juice
3 oz shredded Pepper Jack cheese
1 tbsp minced jalapeño chiles (optional, but adds a subtle kick)
Vegetable oil, for brushing tortillas


  1. Heat 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until kernels begin to brown and pop, 3-5 minutes; transfer corn to bowl.
  2. Heat 2 tsp vegetable oil in now-empty skillet over medium heat until shimmering; add red onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and chili powder and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute; stir in black beans and cook until heated through, about 1 minute.
  3. Return corn to skillet; gently press mixture with spatula to lightly crush beans. Transfer mixture to now-empty bowl, stir in lime juice, and season with salt to taste.
  4. Wipe out skillet with paper towels and return pan to medium heat until hot.
  5. Place 1 tortilla in skillet and toast until soft and puffed slightly at edges, about 2 minutes. Flip tortilla and toast until puffed and slightly browned, 1-2 minutes longer.
  6. Slip tortilla onto cutting board.
  7. Repeat to toast second tortilla while assembling first quesadilla. Sprinkle half of cheese, half of jalapeños, if using, and half of black bean mixture over half of tortilla, leaving 1/2-inch boarder around edge. Fold tortilla in half and press to flatten. Brush top generously with oil, you can also sprinkle lightly with salt, and set aside. Repeat to form second quesadilla.
  8. Place both quesadillas in skillet, oiled sides down; cook over medium heat until crisp and well browned, 1-2 minutes. Brush tops with oil and again, can optionally sprinkle lightly with salt. Flip quesadillas and cook until second sides are crisp, 1-2 minutes.
  9. Transfer quesadillas to cutting board; cool about 3 minutes, half each quesadilla, and serve.

Recipe notes:

Cooling the quesadilla before cutting and serving is important; straight from the skillet, the cheese is molten and will ooze out. Finished quesadillas can be held on a baking sheet in a 200-degree oven for up to 20 minutes.