Easy cheese quesadillas with ranchera sauce

Good ranchera sauce can take a simple cheese quesadilla to the next level. Be sure to use fire-roasted tomatoes in this recipe.

A Palatable Pastime
Stuff your quesadillas with cheese, veggies, or meat. Just be sure to use a good ranchera sauce.

Quesadillas are really quite simple to make, no more complicated than making yourself a grilled cheese sandwich.

What sets this one apart is the salsa ranchera. This is a partially cooked sauce that I like to have for my husband with his huevos rancheros for breakfast, and that requires a specific kind of sauce, the ranchera sauce. It also works equally well as a very tasty salsa.

There are a lot of really bad recipes out there for ranchera sauce, many of which do not even remotely taste like it. I know, I have tried some of those recipes myself before I got comfortable in my own skin making any type of salsa besides salsa fresca.

And making good salsa is not complicated either. In this case, the secret weapon is the sauteed onions and peppers, in particular, the poblano. In a perfect world, I would take the time to blacken the onions and peppers on a comal or over an open fire. In a busy world, they just get sauteed, and allow for the flavor of the fire-roasted tomatoes to hide the shortcut.

Fire-roasted tomatoes have become a lot easier to find in the past year or so since a couple of large tomato companies have added them to their lines. And really, trust me, if you don’t use the fire-roasted tomatoes, either canned or homemade and opt for just regular diced, you will not be as happy. And since I think even Wal-Mart carries them and they are also available online, so you are fortunate no matter what corner of the world your kitchen is in.

Enjoy this great sauce on an easy lunch or appetizer. And you can go further and make your quesadillas with meat, whatever you have.

Easy cheese quesadillas with ranchera sauce 

14 ounces diced fire roasted tomatoes
Pinch ground cumin
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 medium onion
2 to 4 cloves garlic
2 fresh serrano or jalapeno chiles, stemmed and seeded
1 poblano chile, seeded and stemmed
Salt and pepper

For quesadillas:

4-6 large flour tortillas
1 to 1-1/2 cups grated or crumbled cotija cheese (or other melting cheese)
1 cup sour cream (optional)

1. Saute onion, garlic, serranos, poblano pepper in olive oil until softened.

2. Cool mixture enough to process in a food processor with the fire roasted tomatoes (and their juice), ground cumin, salt and black pepper, pulsingmixture a few times to get a “chunky salsa” consistency.

3. Takeflour tortillas, and place on a heated griddle.

4. Sprinkle grated cotija or other melting cheese on one half of the tortilla, then fold the top over and brown on both sides as you would grilled cheese.

5. Serve quesadillas cut into wedges with a pizza cutter, along with dallops of ranchera sauce and sour cream.

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