Tortillas three ways – pizza, quesadilla and bake

It’s always useful to have a few short cuts “cheats” up your sleeve for those extra busy days or just times when you want to minimise the time you spend cooking, but don’t want to compromise on taste.  Probably our favourite “cheat” ingredient is the tortilla.  These are cheap, readily available from most corner shops or supermarkets and can quickly be transformed into a variety of delicious dinners. Here I give three of our favourite ways to use tortillas: as a pizza base, as the outside of a quesadilla, or rolled up around a filling and baked.  All three recipes use exactly the same ingredients and are simply assembled and cooked in a slightly different way to make distinctly different dishes.  Not only are they so simple and easy to make, but the tortillas are low-fat and the fillings are packed with vegetables.  To be honest, you can use pretty much any filling that you like, and these can be fun to make with children as well (particularly the pizzas) as everyone can design their own topping.

Tortilla pizza (see the “tasty little twists” for how to put together the quesadilla or bake)

Cooking time: 15-20 minutes preparation, 10-15 minutes cooking

Dietary info: vegan

Serves: 2-3 (easily scaled up or down) – the sauce makes double quantities

  • 4 wholemeal tortillas
  • 1 aubergine, sliced
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 peppers, any colour, sliced
  • 150g spinach (I used frozen whole leaf spinach)
  • 60-80g sliced or grated vegan cheese (you can replace this with any kind of cheese e.g. mozzarella, if you don’t want to make a vegan / dairy-free version, you can also experiement with different types of vegan cheese, I particularly like creamy cheese for the quesadillas)

Tomato sauce (makes a double quantity)

  • 600 g passata
  • 1 vegetable stock cube (check that this is dairy-free if you want to make this vegan / dairy-free)
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp smoked garlic powder (or normal garlic powder if you can’t find smoked garlic powder – I get mine from http://www.thespicery.com)
  • 1 tsp ground celery
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  1. Put the aubergine, onion and peppers on a non-stick baking tray in the oven at 160C fan for 15 about minutes, until they are softening
  2. Steam the spinach, for 5-10 minutes until cooked through (hot and wilted)
  3. Mix together all of the ingredients for the tomato sauce, except for the lemon juice, and heat in a saucepan or in a bowl in the microwave until the stock cube has fully dissolved (about 3-4 minutes) then stir in the lemon juice
  4. Put the tortillas on non-stick baking trays
  5. Spread 2 tbsp of the sauce on top of each tortilla, then sprinkle on a quarter of the roast vegetables and spinach, and top with a quarter of the cheese
  6. Put the tortillas in the oven at 160C fan for 10-15 minutes until the edges are crispy and the cheese has melted
  7. Serve with some extra tomato sauce on the side and a salad dressed with lemon juice

A few tips to prep ahead:

  • Make the tomato sauce and keep in a sealed container for up to a week.  This is a really useful and versatile sauce which is why I have given the recipe for a double quantity: freeze half for a quick store cupboard dinner in the future, or use it for 2 different variations within the week
  • Chop the aubergine, onion and peppers and keep in a bag in the fridge for 2-3 days ready to roast.  You can even roast them ahead of time and keep them in a sealed container in the fridge for 2-3 days ready to sprinkle on your pizza / quesadilla / bake
  • All you need to do on the night is assemble the pizza / quesadilla / bake and pop it in the oven

Some tasty little twists and extras…

For the quesadillas or bake follow the pizza recipe up to step 3 then follow the assembly instructions below.

To assemble and serve the quesadillas:

  1. Spread 1-2 tbsp sauce over half of a tortilla, top with a quarter of the roast vegetables, spinach and top with a quarter of the cheese
  2. Fold the tortilla in half over the filling and put in a large non-stick frying pan (you can do this for two tortillas at a time).  When the bottom of the tortilla is starting to get brown and a bit crispy (about 1 minute) carefully turn the tortilla over to brown the other side (another minute)
  3. Once both sides are browned slide each tortilla out of the pan onto a piece of foil per tortilla.  the foil should be large enough to wrap around the tortilla
  4. Wrap the foil around the tortilla and put in the oven at 160C fan to heat through (and to let the cheese become lovely and melted) for 10 minutes
  5. Serve with some extra tomato sauce on the side and a salad dressed with lemon juice

To assemble and serve the bake:

  1. Spread 2 tbsp of the sauce on top of each tortilla, then put a quarter of the roast vegetables and spinach in a line across the tortilla slightly off centre, and top with a quarter of the cheese 
  2. Fold the edge of the tortilla nearest the filling over the filling and roll the tortilla up to  in a tube.  Place the rolled up tortillas into an ovenproof dish and top each with another tbsp of tomato sauce.
  3.  Bake in the oven at 160C fan for 20-25 minutes until the top is starting to brown and is crispy
  4. Serve with some extra tomato sauce on the side and a salad dressed with lemon juice

Variations on these tortilla recipes are a fall back for my husband and I whenever we want a super simple supper, so we have tried out a lot of topping variations over the years, usually dictated by what we happened to have in the fridge or cupboard at the time.  Experiment to find your personal favourites, but here are a few ideas that we have tried and enjoyed to get you started:

  • There are lots of different types of tortillas available – try some different ones (white, wholemeal, seeded, flavoured) to find out what you like best
  • Aubergine, red pepper, cooked chickpea and cheese, maybe with a sprinkle of a Moroccan spice blend such as ras el hanout (you can also use this instead of the seasoning in the tomato sauce) makes an unusural topping
  • Red pepper and sliced onion is super simple and quick, you can also add some canned sweetcorn for extra vegetables and sweetness or olives for some saltiness
  • Try a Florentine like pizza by doubling the amount of spinach, forming it into a wall around the outside of the pizza  (on top of the tomato sauce) and breaking an egg into the middle.  this can be done with no cheese or you can sprinkle on a little parmesan (dairy or  a vegan equivalent).  This might be more difficult to assemble as a quesadilla or bake as the egg might run out of the tortilla but I am sure you can do it if you’re very careful
  • One of my husband’s favourites is (unsurprisingly if you know him) bacon and cheese.  Cook 2-3 rashers of bacon for 4 tortillas and try out different types of cheese (vegan or dairy) – my husband likes blue cheese, camembert or brie.  As the cheese is one of the stars there you might want to add more cheese (about 80-120g for 4 tortillas)
  • Any of these combinations of fillings would also make nice pasta dish or bake – cook the pasta of your choice until it is al dente, then mix with enough tomato sauce to coat, stir in the filling ingredients and top with the cheese.  this can either be served straight away like this or put in an oven proof dish and baked at 160C fan for 10-15 minutes until the top is crispy and the cheese has melted
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