There’s nothing novel about pairing figs and gouda, but stuffing them both between two tortillas that crisp into a flakey buttery crust, takes the classic combo to all new heights. It may sound simple enough to do, but it took a non-standard approach to quesadilla making to get the result I was looking for.
To make a quesadilla, you’d normally assemble it first before throwing it in a pan and browning one side before flipping it and browning the other. Unfortunately, the indirect heat leaves the figs watery and green tasting, and the bulk of the figs keep the cheese from melting evenly. I knew that getting the figs to caramelize would require applying some direct heat to them.
One thought I had was to grill the figs first before adding them to the quesadilla. While this works in the flavor department, grilling sliced figs is a sticky nightmare and you end up with mush, losing about half the fig to the grill. Instead, I borrowed a technique I came up with for making cast-iron pizza on the stove before transferring it to a broiler. This gives the figs a chance to caramelize and the cheese a chance to thoroughly melt before it gets capped off with another tortilla and flipped back onto the stove to crisp the second side.
The caramelized figs concentrates their sweetness and imbues a honey-like flavor that provides a stark contrast to the nutty salty aged gouda. As a bonus, the time in the broiler renders one side of the quesadilla cracker-crisp providing a solid foil for the creamy melted cheese and ultra-sweet figs with pleasantly crunchy seeds.
Fig and Gouda Quesadilla
There's nothing novel about pairing figs and gouda, but stuffing them both between two tortillas that crisp into a flakey buttery crust, takes the classic combo to all new heights. (Recipe Credit: Marc Matsumoto of Fresh Tastes.)
- 1 tablespoon butter softened
- 4 small flour tortillas
- 5.3 ounces figs (sliced into 1/4-inch thick wedges)
- 3.5 ounces shredded aged gouda
- Move your oven rack to the top position and preheat a sheet pan in your broiler.
- Divide and spread the butter on one side of all 4 tortillas.
- Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add one tortilla, buttered side down.
- Sprinkle some cheese on top and then arrange half the figs on top. Sprinkle with some more cheese. When the bottom of the tortilla starts to crisp, transfer it to the sheet pan in your broiler and let the figs caramelize a bit on top.
- While the first quesadilla is in your broiler, assemble the second quesadilla in your pan and transfer that to the broiler.
- Once the pan is empty again, top the first quesadilla (the one you just took out of the broiler) with another tortilla, buttered side up. Flip this quesadilla into the empty pan so that the fresh tortilla is face down in the pan. Fry until crisp.
- Repeat with the other quesadilla.
Yield: Makes 2 small quesadillas
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.