Thursday, February 3, 2011

Havarti Shrimp Quesadillas

Recipe modified by Gretchen Wilson – July 30, 2010
For a commentary-free and printer-friendly version of it, please click here.

Recipe originally published in Taste of Home, June/July 2010.

These quesadillas can be cut up into smaller sections for an appetizer or eaten as an entrée in larger portions.  I had never bought/used Havarti and was a little nervous because of the cost.  I mean, who wants to pay $5 for a brick of cheese and screw it up!  Fortunately, it is meant to be sliced and served so I really only needed to worry about burning the tortillas.

My finished product:

Picture published with recipe:

© Taste of Home

The end result was fairly similar, but at the time I didn’t have a grill pan so I didn’t get the pretty grill lines across it.  Interestingly enough, I found these to be a little bland.  Although they weren’t bad, I definitely had to eat them with a salad and had guacamole and salsa as a side.

for more details about what my ratings mean, go to Gretchen’s Rating System

Mess:  EH – Honestly, this is almost deserving of an NADA rating, but the preserves were such a mess.  It doesn’t matter if I’m making a PB & J or quesadillas, it always seems like I get the sticky preserves on the spatula/knife and then all over my fingers which then leads to me getting it all over everything else in my kitchen.

Start-to-Finish Time: Under an hour – Taste of Home says it should take 25 minutes, and I’d say that comes pretty close.  If you don’t buy pre-sliced mushrooms, give yourself at least 45 minutes.

Prep Work: SLIGHT BLOOD LOSS – Other than chopping the mushrooms, there isn’t any, and if you buy pre-sliced, it is as simple as dumping them on a chopping board & hacking away.  No precision or special techniques needed.

Ease of Recipe: THE BASICS – I had to think long and hard about whether or not this deserved this rating or COOK IT IN MY SLEEP rating, but since I spilled out the first quesadilla and made a gigantic mess while flipping it over, I decided that I can’t say I’d do it in my sleep… unless I was prepared to wake up surrounded in flames.

Overall:  NOT BAD – They were good, but nothing would compel me to make them again, unless I had someone who wanted to try them.

Recipe Information:
Prep/Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 24 (as appetizer) / 6 (as entrée)

Nutritional Information (1 wedge – appetizer serving)
  • Calories 123
  • Total Fat 5g (Saturated Fat 3g)
  • Cholesterol 26mg
  • Sodium 166mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 12g
  • Fiber 2g
  • Protein 6g

The individual quesadillas can be an entrée, but you have to serve it with a salad and probably beans and rice to make a meal out of it.  They do well when they are setting out as appetizers and in fact are a little easier to eat once they’ve cooled off a little.  When I first cooked them, I tried to pick them up like a little tortilla sandwich and the insides oozed out.  ("oozed" is not a technical term)

Changes denoted by red text

½ pound fresh mushrooms, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
6 tablespoons sugar-free apricot preserves
6 flour tortillas (10 inches)
6 ounces Havarti cheese, thinly sliced
½ pound cooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined and chopped
Cooking spray

Ingredient Notes:
  • Buy the pre-sliced mushrooms to make your life easier.  You don’t even need to chop them up any further if you don’t want to.
  • I went with white mushrooms, but in retrospect, I wish I would have gone with a more flavor-filled mushroom, like a baby bella.  If anyone ever asks me to make this again, I will give them a try.

Olive Oil – the original recipe called for canola oil, but olive is healthier for you.  The question gets to be - should you use your really expensive extra-virgin olive oil or not.  Since it is not the focus of the dish and is used as a cooking medium (mixed with butter), don’t waste your good olive oil stash.  The cheap(er) stuff works just fine.

Sugar-Free Apricot Preserves – honestly, I have no idea if the sugar in the preserves is supposed to have some kind of chemical reaction with the havarti, but when it comes to the taste of the preserves by themselves, I have yet to see a difference.  I was more interested in cutting out sugar and calories.

Flour Tortillas – often I will substitute corn tortillas for the flour kind because it is literally a fraction of the calories and overall a healthier option.  However, they get very crispy when frying them and they don’t bend well, so it wouldn’t be a good option for this dish.

Havarti Cheese – pronounced hah-VAR-tee, you can find it in the specialty cheese case in your produce/deli department.  I did find a reduced-fat version, but the Havarti is the star of this dish and I wanted to get full flavor for it.  When you slice it, it should be divided evenly into 6 pieces (1 ounce per quesadilla).

Shrimp – You can buy frozen, cooked shrimp in the seafood case which is the cheapest option.  I did scroll through the reviews left on Taste of Home’s web site and someone mentioned that you should buy raw shrimp and cook it with the mushrooms, olive oil and butter.  I wonder if that would have given the quesadillas a more savory flavor.  If anyone tries it, let me know!

Cooking Spray – The recipe had 2 tablespoons of butter, melted and brushed on the outside of the quesadillas to grill them.  I substituted the cooking spray instead and it made less mess with the same amount of taste.

Equipment Needed:
Cutting board
Sharp knife
Large skillet
Large spoon
Small plastic spatula
Grill pan or another large skillet

Equipment Notes:
Small Plastic Spatula – Yes, you can use a knife to spread the preserves on the tortilla; however, you can’t necessarily pick up the tortilla like you would a piece of bread.  The plastic spatula allows you to keep the tortilla on a flat surface and spread without tearing it.

Grill Pan – Although it doesn’t say “use grill pan” it just says “grill” in the recipe, I wouldn’t even attempt to put these on a regular grill.  When I originally made this dish, I didn’t own a grill pan and used a regular skillet.  It turned out the same, but I didn’t have the pretty grill marks in it.  You can’t re-use the skillet you cooked the mushrooms in unless you’ve cleaned it first, though.

(1)  In a large skillet, sauté mushrooms in oil and butter until tender.

(2)  Using the small spatula, spread 1 tablespoon preserves over half of each tortilla; top with cheese, shrimp and mushrooms.

(3)  Fold tortillas over and lightly spray both sides with cooking spray.

(4)  Grill quesadillas, in a grill pan, uncovered, over medium heat for 1-2 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cheese is melted.

(5)  For appetizers, cut each quesadilla into four wedges but to serve as an entrée, leave whole. Serve warm.

Overall, the cooking experience was positive, but I didn't enjoy dumping my first quesadillas' contents all over my stove and pan.  In fact, the smell of burning cheese & mushrooms is one of my least favorite things.

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