You can tell spring is truly here when the variety of produce available at the farmer's market starts to expand from root vegetables and winter spinach and I giddily anticipate being able to prepare most of my meals from farmer's market and CSA produce. This past week I bought some fantastic shiitake mushrooms and Snug Haven spinach from the farmer's market in anticipation of combining them, but with no specific plan. A quick survey of my fridge revealed some tortillas and sun-dried tomatoes that I wanted to use up and an ever-present large selection of Wisconsin cheeses and my thoughts immediately turned to quesadillas (and I use that term loosely). Quesadillas, like pizza and paninis, are a great way to get creative and use up the odds and ends of ingredients leftover from other recipes and range from very healthy to completely indulgent. Earthy mushrooms, fresh spinach, and intensely flavored sun-dried tomatoes all come together under a not-too-heavy blanket of cheese for a delicious appetizer or entree alongside a cup of soup or side salad. Although not quite as delicious as fresh off the grill, these quesadillas hold up pretty well for lunch the following day and are a satisfying change from peanut butter and jelly or cold cuts and cheese.
Shiitake, Spinach, and Sun-Dried Tomato Quesadillas
2 tablespoons olive oil from olive oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, or regular (extra-virgin) olive oil
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
8 ounces spinach, rinsed and chopped
1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes, packed in olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
4 six- to eight-inch whole-grain tortillas
1 cup shredded provolone cheese
1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil from olive oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes over medium-high heat. (If you do not have enough oil supplement some or all with extra-virgin olive oil). Add the sliced mushrooms and saute, stirring frequently, until browned and tender, but not mushy, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add spinach, stir to combine and cook until spinach is wilted and tender, but not slimy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in sun-dried tomatoes, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
2. Meanwhile, heat a panini or sandwich press according to manufacturer's instructions until hot. (Alternatively, heat a well-seasoned ridged grill pan over moderate heat.)
3. Divide the mushroom mixture between the four tortillas, spreading the mushroom mixture evenly on one half of each tortilla. Top each with 1/4 cup shredded provolone and fold each tortilla in half.
4. Once preheated, spray panini press with olive or canola oil cooking spray. Put quesadillas on press, then pull down top and cook until quesadillas are browned and crisp, cheese is melted, and filling is hot, 3 to 6 minutes. (If using grill pan, put a heavy pan on top of quesadillas and cook, flipping once.) Remove from heat, slice into 2 or 4 wedges and serve warm.