Road Tested Quesadilla

Five outdoor meals that feature Utah’s scenery as a main ingredient.

There’s something supremely satisfying about a fresh-from-the-skillet quesadilla. The crisp crunch of a perfectly griddled tortilla, lots of oozy cheese and, of course, the sky’s the limit for savory or sweet fixin’s in the mix. It’s an almost perfect on-the-go finger food to boot—for breakfast, dinner or dessert, whether prepped at home or over a campfire. And with a simple one-pan preparation method, it makes mealtime cleanup easy, even in the laziest camp kitchens. You really don’t even need a plate or utensils to eat quesadillas in the field. Just beware of drips: We know that spectacular Utah scenery can be pretty darn distracting.
To add to the flair factor, great quesadillas really need only a few well-chosen ingredients to make this simple treat sing. Our choices highlight five gorgeous Utah locations and quesadillas that are prepared with five ingredients or less (not including the tortilla itself and basic pantry ingredients like butter and seasoning).
A few tips for ideal quesadilla creation:
• A well-seasoned dry cast-iron skillet makes pretty impeccable quesadillas, but even the lid of a large backpacking pot will work in a pinch.
• Keep the heat under the pan no higher than medium-low flames, otherwise the tortilla will scorch before the ingredients are cooked through.
• Go for smaller, evenly chopped ingredients to avoid that embarrassing fillings fiasco that occurs when one nibble ends up sliding half of the wedge into action.
• Experiment with using corn tortillas, gluten free or whole-wheat circles in the mix. As far as fillings go, hit a local’s farmers market, or improvise from your cooler’s funky “last call” jumble.

Q1“Last Day of Camp” Breakfast Quesadillas
My family’s love affair with camp quesadillas started about seven summers ago during a camping trip in the high Uinta Mountains. Toward the end of the long weekend, I was scrambling to do the camp cook’s version of Chopped with the various leftovers and half-empty food packages. My kids requested something warm to eat for breakfast on that particularly drizzly, damp morning, and we were down to a package of tortillas and the previous day’s lunch leftovers. I threw together a quesadilla with ham, shredded cheddar and some decidedly limp but still-serviceable scallions, and voila! They were a huge hit for a couple of young boys who couldn’t face another bowl of oatmeal without serious eye-rolling. Since then, camp quesadillas have become a family favorite even on our first days in the field. We like to start off a chilly morning before heading out on a long hike along Utah’s Mirror Lakes with this hearty camp favorite. Eat it right out of hand without making a mess sans egg, or put a nice sunny-side up egg on top and enjoy all that oozy yolk goodness if you’re having a more leisurely start to the day and don’t mind some extra dishes.

Ingredients for one generous serving:
1 large (burrito sized) flour tortilla
1 ½ ounces Salt & Smoke Tyrolean ham, sliced into thin strips
1 ½-2 ounces Beehive Promontory Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1 scallion, chopped
½ teaspoon oil or butter
1 egg

Assemble the quesadilla, spreading all of the ingredients except for the egg evenly over ½ of the surface of the tortilla and folding the empty side over to enclose the ingredients. Place a cast iron skillet over medium-low heat and toast the quesadilla evenly (about 2-4 minutes) until golden brown; gently flip over to fry the other side until the cheese is melted through. Remove quesadilla from the skillet and cut into wedges. Meanwhile, add ½ teaspoons oil or butter to the warm skillet and swirl to coat. Prepare the egg your favorite way, then slide it on top of the quesadilla. Dig in!

Q2Fig & Brie Concert Quesadillas
Fall concerts at Red Butte Garden or Deer Valley call for some pretty high-caliber gourmet baskets on the blanket. Whether you prefer stemmed glasses with $80 bottles of wine or your favorite Beehive brew straight from the can, a crisp quesadilla wedge neatly fits the bill for a tidy and delicious al fresco meal to accompany all of Utah’s auditory and scenic ambiance. Echoing the classic flavor profile of a brie en croute, this quesadilla combines that artful pairing of sweet and savory without all the fuss and crumble of puff pastry. Bonus: This quesadilla holds up well at room temperature for an extended stay in the basket pre-venue.

Ingredients for 2-4 appetizer portions:
2 small (soft taco-size) flour tortillas
1 tablespoons Amour Spreads Black Mission Fig Jam
3 ounces Brie or camembert cheese, rind removed
and sliced into small cubes
½ teaspoon fresh orange zest
1 teaspoon butter
Extra: generous pinch of coarse sea salt

Assemble the quesadillas, spreading the jam evenly over half of the surface of each tortilla. Split the cheese and orange zest evenly between the two tortillas over the jam, and fold the empty side over to enclose the ingredients. To a large cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat, add butter and swirl pan until just melted. Add the quesadilla to the skillet cheese-side-down first and fry until golden brown (about 3-5 minutes), gently flip the tortilla to fry the other side.
When cooked through, remove to a sheet of parchment and sprinkle with salt while still warm (so that it will stick to the buttered surface). Cut into wedges. Eat immediately, or wrap in parchment for travel.

Q3Smoky Flaming Gorge Trout Melts
We’re usually a catch-and-release crowd, but there’s that occasional hog of a Green River trout that swallows a hook so deep he ends up in the campfire frying pan to put us both out of our misery. If we’re really lucky, there’ll be a little bit of that slightly smoky and succulent fish leftover after dinner to make trout hash for breakfast the next morning, or for any meal, my favorite twist on a tuna melt: a Trout & cheddar quesadilla.

Ingredients for one generous portion:
1 large (burrito size) whole-wheat tortilla
2-4 ounces of cooked (or lightly smoked) trout, flaked
2 teaspoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons fresh celery, finely chopped;
leaves reserved for garnish
2 teaspoons sweet-firm red apple (like Gala or Fuji), finely chopped
2-3 ounce sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

In a small bowl, fold together the trout, mayonnaise, celery and apple gently until just combined (don’t smash them into a paste, but do add more mayo if needed to get the ingredients to stick together). Assemble the quesadilla, spreading the trout mixture over ½ of the surface of the tortilla, sprinkle evenly with cheese and fold the empty side over to enclose the ingredients. Place a cast iron skillet over medium-low heat, and starting cheese-side-down toast the tortilla until golden brown and the cheese is mostly melted (3-5 minutes); gently flip over to fry the other side until the cheese is melted through. Remove quesadilla from the skillet and cut into wedges. Garnish with celery leaves.
Q4Guardsman Pass Sunday Sourcing
Come fall, Utah’s glorious quaking aspen groves could easily give New England a run for its money. Few sights are more satisfying than hillsides covered in shimmering shades of yellow and gold with pops of scarlet oaks adding to the autumnal glory. Our favorite way to take it in is to go on a Sunday drive over Guardsman Pass (State Route 224), which also provides access to hiking and biking trails that criss-cross between Deer Valley and Brighton Resort showcasing heart-stopping views of the Wasatch Range and beyond in all directions.
Plan an early adventure so that the return trip on Guardsman (which is closed in winter) delivers you to Prospect Street for the Park Silly Sunday Market—operating every Sunday, June through September, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.—an open market that’s equal parts festival and just plain fun—and pick up a post-ride brew or Bloody Mary and some veggies from local producers (vendors and selection vary). Or, if returning via Big Cottonwood Canyon Road to the Salt Lake Valley, stop by Wheeler Farm Farmers Market (Sundays 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., June through October) to peruse a bounty of local fall flavors. Too far into fall for farmers markets? Local purveyors Harmons Grocery, Dan’s Market and Tony Caputo’s Food Market all proudly carry Utah First products year-round.

Ingredients for one generous portion:
1 large (burrito size) whole-wheat tortilla
2 teaspoons grainy country-style mustard
2 ounces Creminelli Capicola, sliced thin and cut into 1 inch wedges
(or, for a vegetarian option, use 1 ½ tablespoons Laziz hummus)
2 ounces Gruyere cheese (such as Rockhill Creamery
Wasatch Mountain Gruyere)
2 large kale or chard leaves; remove tough ribs and rough chop
2 teaspoons olive oil
Crushed black pepper and sea salt

To a large cast iron skillet over medium-low heat, add olive oil and swirl to coat. Add the chopped greens (careful! They’ll sputter a bit because of the high moisture content) and sautée until just wilted, stirring often. Meanwhile, assemble the quesadillas, spreading the mustard evenly over half of the surface of each tortilla. Split the capicola (or hummus) and cheese evenly between the two tortillas over the mustard. Remove the wilted greens from the pan and add them to the quesadilla; fold the tortilla closed. Add the quesadilla to the same still lightly oiled skillet cheese-side-down first and fry until golden brown (about 3-5 minutes), gently flip the tortilla to fry the other side. Cut into wedges and sprinkle with crushed black pepper and sea salt.

Q5Bear Lake Berries & Nutella
From August through October, Bear Lake visitors can count on not only some of the best floating fun in the state, but a bounty of the region’s favorite fruit: raspberries. From thick milk shakes to sky-high pie, Bear Lake berries show up in countless tasty variations. Our favorite dessert quesadilla camp creation combines that sweet-tart combo that just can’t be beat: raspberries with chocolate and caramel. To make quesadilla prep even easier, Nutella’s proprietary hazelnut-chocolate blend hits the spot.

Ingredients for four dessert portions:
2 small (soft taco-size) wheat tortillas
2-3 tablespoons of Nutella spread
2-3 ounce fresh raspberries
1 ½ teaspoons butter
2 ounces caramel sauce, slightly warmed
2 ounces chopped hazelnuts
Generous sprinkle of Maldon or other large-flaked sea salt

Assemble the quesadillas, spreading Nutella evenly over ½ of the surface of each tortilla. Split the berries evenly between the two tortillas over the chocolate spread, and fold the empty side over to enclose the ingredients. To a large cast iron skillet over medium-low heat, add butter and swirl pan until just melted. Add the quesadilla to the skillet and fry until golden brown (about 2-4 minutes), gently flip the tortilla to fry the other side. Remove from heat, and cut into wedges. Drizzle with caramel sauce and sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts and flaked sea salt if desired.

And make sure to hit up Bountiful’s Fruit Highway (scenic U.S. Route 89) for inspiration on the way back home for even more quesadilla combos!

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