You could argue that this dish isn’t actually a quesadilla…especially if your definition of a quesadilla involves the words “chewy, melty, crunchy, and grilled” (fourth-meal, anyone?), or is exemplified by the meager offerings on the kids menu at most strip-mall Mexican restaurants. In fact, if your exposure to quesadillas has been limited to buzz-suppressing binge eating at bar-thirty on a Sunday morning, then my version of a this simple dish before going primal would have already stricken you as rather unorthodox. Now I’ve taken it a step further and simply eliminated the tortilla as well.
Suffice it to say that this dish still contains a substantial amount of cheese – in the form of pastured, cave-aged cheddar. And since we try to limit the amount of dairy we intake with our primal lifestyle (sticking with pastured or grass-fed sources and even then primarily using only products like cream and butter), this is not the sort of meal we’d recommend eating on a weekly basis. But when you’re looking for something quick and flavorful, have some latitude to afford yourself a “cheat,” and have a real craving for some good melted cheddar, then this is the meal to make.
- 2 skinless/boneless chicken breast halves
- 1 bell pepper, halved (across) and sliced into 1/2″ wide strips
- 2 scallions, chopped
- 2 mushrooms, halved and sliced ~1/8″ thick
- 1 tomato, sliced into thin wedges
- 1-1/2 cups (roughly) shredded cheddar cheese (we use KerryGold)
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1-1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp coarse ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp paprika
Start out by preparing your veggies and separating them into prep bowls. Combine all of the spices into another small bowl, mixing well (you may recognize the spice blend from our taco salad recipe). Cut the chicken first into 3/8″ thick strips, and then cut those in half to about 3″ long.
Heat a heavy skillet on medium heat. Add a couple tablespoons of olive oil or bacon fat, then add the chicken. Sprinkle half of the spice mixture over the chicken, then turn and sprinkle the other half on the other side. Sauté until the chicken is just cooked through – about 6 minutes or so. While this is going on, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grab a stoneware baking dish (I should have used a smaller one – this is one of my 15×10 ones) and arrange the chicken in a single layer – closely spaced. Assemble the other veggies on top in the same way you would a pizza (hmm…maybe we should call this “Crustless Chicken Taco Pizza”).
Grab the cheese grater (be mindful of your knuckles if you have a MicroPlane one like we do!) and proceed with shredding a copious amount of cheese over the entire pan. Don’t hold back…you want good even coverage over everything before this thing goes into the oven.
Put in the oven for about 10 minutes – or however long it takes for the cheese to be nice and melted (but not starting to turn crunchy) and the veggies to be tender-crisp but still fairly fresh. Use a metal spatula or pizza cutter to slice into sections. If you’re having this for lunch or a light dinner, serve as-is (or with a little salsa on top). If you’re looking for a larger meal, you can serve alongside wedges of jicama dipped in salsa and a healthy serving of guacamole. Now how’s that for your “fourth-meal?!” Enjoy!