By SRUTHI NARAYANAN ’14
With this unpredictable weather, we never know when Wellesley will be slammed with a freak snow storm or sudden cold snap. After this harsh winter, the mere thought of trudging all the way to the dining hall in the cold makes me want to curl up under my covers and break my bank account with enough Lemon Thai to last the week.
I find that the best way to combat chilly weather is with a perfect combination of cheese, paired with more cheese. However, sometimes the dining hall dinner menus, while delicious, aren’t in line with my cheesy cravings.
However, there are ways of working around these situations by using the ingredients we have at our disposal, in the sandwich bar and salad stations, for example, and doctoring them based on our preferences. A while ago, I realized that when the mood struck me for something hot and cheesy, I could manipulate the salad bar ingredients to make a quesadilla that almost rivals those served at the Hoop.
Salad Bar Quesadilla
Because this recipe depends so much on your own personal tastes as well as what’s available in the dining hall that day, this version offers the opportunity for variety and more than a few surprises.
* Two tortillas
* Several spoonfuls of shredded cheese, enough to cover the area of one tortilla. Cheddar or Monterey Jack work best, and blue cheese is good if you like strong flavors! Avoid feta, which does not melt well. Cheese options are available either in the salad or sandwich bar.
* Salad bar mix-ins! These include beans, corn, spinach, olives, broccoli, mushrooms, beets, peas, grilled chicken, diced ham and more.
1. Lie one tortilla flat on a plate, and sprinkle half of the cheese on it.
2. Add your mix-ins in whatever order you’d like and top with the rest of the cheese. Layering in this way will help the tortillas stick together.
3. Top with the second tortilla.
4. Heating the quesadilla can be done in one of two ways: Either put the plate in the microwave for about 45 seconds, or very carefully place the tortilla in the panini press for three to four minutes.
5. You have an editorial choice here. You can grab a knife and cut it into slices, which is particularly satisfying if you went the panini-press route — the knife makes a great crunching sound. Or you can pick up your entire creation with both hands, make like the Spanish Inquisition and attack from the rear.
Depending on your hunger level, you can use one tortilla, folded over, instead of two as a variation on this recipe. Personally I think two tortillas works better in terms of controlling the balance of the filling inside. Plus, you end up with more quesadilla!
If the dining hall is serving chili or precooked beans (such as in the vegan and grain bar in Tower), throw that in! Just be wary of any wet sauce or gravy that could make your tortilla soggy.
Most of the dining halls have a fantastic spice rack that few students make use of. Try adding paprika, oregano, rosemary or any other spice combination available.
Please be extremely careful if you decide to use the panini press. Your creation, while beautiful, is at its most unstable when uncooked. If any of the filling does happen to spill out, do clean up after yourself so the next person’s quesadilla experience can be equally life-changing.