Cheddar Quesadilla with Fresh Sunfish and Green Tomato Salad, Tostado Style
This recipe blends the classic quesadilla with the toppings of a tostado. Corn tortillas may be my favorite “food vehicle” for both flavor and versatility. The ways to incorporate them into recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks are almost endless and, to me at least, always delicious. This recipe also uses three other of my favorite ingredients; fresh crappie, green tomatoes and Cabot cheddar.
Also, almost endless are the many different species of panfish and sunfish, even largemouth and smallmouth bass are a member of the sunfish family. While most anglers practice catch and release for largemouth and smallmouth, other members of the sunfish family are more sought after for table fare, with black and white crappie at the top of the list. Crappie, or sac-a-lait, as we referred to them as kids, or specks, as they are called in some parts of the country, are highly regarded as the best tasting freshwater fish and I couldn’t agree more. The seasons for crappie vary from state to state, but they are long and generous, with many anglers devoting their entire season toward catching and cooking this tasty fish. Crappie fillets are usually breaded and deep-fried, but my favorite way to cook this delicate fish is to quickly pan fry it in a couple tablespoons of butter with just a little salt and pepper and a slice or two of lemon.
For the recipe, first of all, try and catch or acquire some crappie fillets. If not possible, any other delicate white meat fish will suffice, such as yellow perch, bluegill or bass. If all else fails, you can always pick up some flounder or haddock at the local grocery store.
This is also an opportunity to use those green tomatoes in yours or your neighbor’s garden. Green tomatoes, un-ripened red tomatoes, have a much longer season than red tomatoes, and the un-ripened sugars of a green tomato give it a tangy and tart flavor that lends itself nicely to all sorts of recipes, not just fried green tomatoes.
For the recipe:
6 tostadas, quick-fried tortillas
1 to 2 lbs. crappie fillets or other white meat fish, cooked and gently broken into pieces
1 cup refried beans, warm
2 cups mixed greens, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup Cabot Sour Cream
2 tablespoons whole milk
¼ cup chopped onion
1 avocado, pitted and diced
1 medium sized green tomatoes, diced
1 cup Cabot Mexican Blend Shreds or your favorite Cabot Cheddar shredded
2 tablespoons Cabot salted butter
salt and pepper to taste
Melt the butter in skillet and place over medium-low heat. When hot, place one tortilla in skillet. Sprinkle with ½ cup of grated cheese. Cover with the second tortilla. Turn the quesadilla over with a spatula, when lightly browned on the underside and cook until cheese is melted and is lightly browned.
In a small bowl whisk the vinegar, oil, salt and pepper until well blended. Add the diced green tomatoes, toss then set aside. I like to let them marinate for 15 to 20 minutes.
While the tomatoes are marinating, whisk the sour cream and milk together in a small bowl until well blended. If you have a squirt bottle, transfer the cream mixture to the bottle. If not, you can always just use a spoon to garnish with.
To assemble the tostados, spread a layer of the refried beans over each tortilla. Follow that with a little bit of the fish, then the onion and avocado. Garnish with a stripe or dollop of the sour cream and don't be afraid to be generous. Place the mixed greens in the bowl with the dressed green tomatoes and toss.
Add the green tomato salad and top with the Cabot Cheese.
Enjoy and good fishing!