Main Dish

Salsa Quesadillas

Salsa Quesadilla topped with a dollop of sour cream, served with Spanish Rice and Sweet Corn Cake

Hands-on Time:  15 minutes
Total Time:  25 minutes
Makes 4 servings

  • 8 – 8” flour tortillas
  • 2 cups grated Monterey Jack or mozzarella
  • 1 14- to 16-oz jar salsa, drained
  • Several leaves fresh basil or cilantro (optional)
  • 1 large can of chicken (optional)
  • 4 tsp olive oil

Arrange 4 of the tortillas on a work surface. Mix the Monterey Jack, salsa, and chicken and herbs (if using) together and divide among the tortillas, spreading to leaving a 1” border.  Top with the remaining tortillas.  Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Cook one quesadilla at a time, turning once, until the cheese melts and the tortillas are crisp and golden, about 2 minutes per side.  Transfer to a cutting board.  Repeat with the remaining quesadillas.  Cut into wedges and serve.

It used to be that when it came to Mexican meals, I only ate the Americanized fast food versions and would quickly turn my nose up at any restaurant resembling authentic mexican cooking.  And as far as making it, I stuck to taco kits and the occasional homemade taco salad.  But, as I ventured out of my comfort zones with cooking and food, Mexican meals are actually among my favorite to make!

I was recently introduced to the ethnic food aisle of my local grocer, which as a life long patron of this store, I’d paid little to no attention to over the years.  What an eye-opening experience for an aspiring cook.  All of this variety right here at my local grocery store.

It was in this aisle that I came across Knorr’s Spanish Rice which takes all of 15 minutes to whip up and is usually on sale every other week for $1!  Then I was ecstatic when I discovered Chi-Chi’s Sweet Corn Cake mix!  I have dreamt of this sweet, yet veggie filled delectable ever since Chi-Chi’s restaurants ceased to exist in my neck of the woods.  I’ve searched for corn cake recipes only to find that they were way too involved for my tolerance – I have zero patience for dishes that need babied and coddled. And here this mix was, all these years, right there at the grocery store just down the street!  Needless to say, these two items have now become staple sides to any Mexican main dish recipe I prepare.

Knorr's Spanish Rice & Chi-Chi's Sweet Corn Cake Mix Packages

As for this particular main dish, Salsa Quesadillas, I found the original recipe in Real Simple’s July 2010 Edition of Meals Made Easy.  They also suggested to save time, to broil the quesadillas all together by  arranging them on a baking sheet, brushing the tops with olive oil, and broil, turning once, until the cheese melts and the tortillas are golden brown.  I’ve tried this and didn’t find that broiling really saved any more time.  I prefer the skillet method.

I tend to make a few tweaks to recipes to better fit my tastes.  With this one, I added the canned chicken (such as Sawson’s) to the recipe, gives it a little more sustenance, making it more of a dinner worthy dish.  And you’ll notice this recipe calls for the salsa to be drained.  The original purpose of draining the salsa is so you’re left with just the veggies, but I like straining it so I’m left with just the sauce!  You’ll come to find I’m not a huge veggie fan although I am coming around and learning to appreciate their flavor if nothing else.

Have sour cream on hand for dipping, Knorr’s Spanish Rice and Chi-Chi’s Sweet Corn Cake and you’ve got quite the meal!

I swear that when you just use the sauce from the salsa and add chicken it tastes just like Taco Bell’s chicken quesadillas.  I know, I know.  That may not sound appealing being a comparison to Taco Bell of all places but it is so yummy!

And hey while you’re at it, add fried ice cream and a maragarita and you’ve got quite the fiesta!

PS – I’ve found the Sweet Corn Cake turns out better when made in an aluminum loaf pan rather than a glass one.



    1. Good, I will definitely keep that in mind for future posts! For this post especially I wanted the pic because not everyone would be familiar with what Sweet Corn Cake is let alone how to identify/find it at the store.

  1. i have been searching for the original taco bell chicken quesadilla recipe, before they began using the creamy jalapeno sauce. it was greenish in color and absolutely delicious. i am still searching, but if you have any clue what i am talking about, please help…thanks, john

    1. I just found your blog and I can honestly say, now that it’s 1:35am on a Wednesday night and I’ve spent the last 2 hours pesinurg your awesome recipes, that you are my new favorite person. LOL Seriously, I am really digging your blog, big time! And I am more of an art/craft blog kinda girl so to find me on a cooking blog….whoooo, big change. But a change I am so ready to embrace. I need to cook more, cook better foods and definitely need to do it on a budget so thank you so much!Anyway, my take on tortillas, after living on the Mexican border of Texas for 10 years and as much as I love homemade and have a need to cut fat, the very best tortillas I’ve ever made (even better than with lard) were from packaged flour tortilla mix that you just add water, divide, roll out and dry fry. But hey, I’m willing to give these a try…who knows?Thanks again.Peace & Love,~Barb~

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