11/02/2011 04:58 pm ET | Updated Aug 31, 2012

How To Make A Quesadilla

Chef Iliana de la Vega of The Culinary Institute of America demonstrates the simple technique for making a homemade quesadilla using white corn tortillas and shredded cheese. You can use various types of cheese, but it's best to use a cheese meant for melting, like asadero or monterey jack. She begins by warming up a griddle -- you don't want it to be scalding hot because it will burn the tortilla without melting the cheese. She explains that you can use two different methods to make the quesadilla: Either place the cheese on one half of a tortilla and fold it over, or put cheese all over the tortilla and cover it with a second tortilla. Make sure to cover the entire tortilla; you don't want any spots without cheese. The quesadillas are done when they have a little bit of color, and the tortillas are slightly crispy. To serve, cut it in half and serve with salsa.

For 60 years, The Culinary Institute of America has been setting the standard for excellence in professional culinary education. In this video series, experienced chefs and educators show you how to tackle essential cooking techniques.

Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Chef Iliana de la Vega from the Culinary Institute of America, and I'm going to show you this kitchen basic: how to make a quesadilla.

For a quesadilla, we need something really simple. This is a tortilla, and we need cheese. This is a basic quesadilla: we don't need anything else. I'm using corn tortillas, white corn tortillas. If you like, you can use a larger one. I'm going to start warming up the pan. You don't want this to be hot, hot - burning - because it will burn your tortilla without melting your cheese. So we'll start warming up our tortillas and I will show you two different ways of making a quesadilla.

Let's warm up these three tortillas, and while they get warmer let me show you the cheese here. You can use a monterey jack cheese; we're using a chihuahua cheese or asadero cheese, which is a Mexican cheese and is a melting cheese.

Our tortillas are getting warmer, so now they're more flexible. Let's put some cheese on them, just like this, on one side of the first one. This will be folded - fold it in half like a turnover. This is one type. Then we have these other two tortillas, and we'll put one on top of the other. So we put cheese on one of them. Try to cover the whole thing - I think there is no worse thing than having a piece of tortilla without the cheese! I think we have enough now, so we'll cover it with the other tortilla and gently press down. Turn it over carefully.

We're looking for a little bit of color here; also, the tortilla should be slightly crispy. We'll move it back here on our cutting board, and I'll cut it in half. I have a plate here with two salsas. Normally quesadillas are eaten with salsa.

So here we have our quesadilla! You can eat it plain or with salsa, so I have two here, a salsa Mexicana and a salsa verde. It's wonderful; it's a perfect meal for kids.