Asparagus Quesadillas with Red Chili Paste
De Arbol (Capsicum Annuum) means tree like in Spanish. The plant has thick, upright, woody stems and the chile itself is narrow, curved and bright red in color. Believed to be closely related to the pequin, the De Arbol is thin fleshed, with tannic, smoky, grassy flavor and searing heat. This chile has a heat range of 7.5 on the heat scale of 1-10. De Arbol Chiles are comparable to a Cayenne Pepper. Scoville heat units 15,000 to 30,000.
De Arbol is a hot chile and a staple in Southwest kitchens. Add some heat to your next salsa or Mexican dish. Be adventurous and add them to your next stew or chili along with the other spices. Add some heat to your next salsa or Mexican dish.
1 lb asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 1/4- inch diagonal pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
Butter or extra virgin olive oil (optional)
Four 9-to 10- inch burrito-size tortillas, preferably from sprouted whole wheat, or 4 whole wheat tortillas
1/4 cup Red Chili Paste
8 ounces (2 cups) grated sharp Cheddar, Gruyere, or Moneterey Jack cheese, preferably raw
For the red chili paste:
1/4 pound tomatillos (about 4 medium), husked and rinsed
1 small plum tomato
1 fresh serrano chile
2 dried pasilla chiles
5 dried chilies de arbol
2 garlic cloves, peeled, root ends trimmed but left whole
2 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
(Myra Kornfeld, Healthy Hedonist Holidays)
Place the asparagus, garlic, oil, salt, and water in a large skillet. Cover and cook 2 to 3 minutes over medium heat, until the asparagus is just tender. Uncover, raise the heat, and cook, stirring, until the liquid is evaporated, and the asparagus is golden and caramelized, and additional 3 minutes or so. Transfer the asparagus into a bowl.
Spread the butter or brush the oil, if using, on one side of each tortilla and set the tortillas on a work surface, buttered side down. Spread a tablespoon of the chili paste over the tortilla. Distribute the cheese among the tortillas, covering only have of each and leaving a 1-inch margin at the edge. Distribute the asparagus on top of the cheese. Fold the tortillas in half to enclose the filling, creating a half moon.
Put the quesadillas in a nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Cook, covered, until the cheese melts and brown spots appear, about 4 minutes. Uncover and flip the quesdaillas. Cook until the second side is golden brown and the cheese has melted completely, about minutes. Remove from the heat and divide each into 5 or 6 wedges.
Red Chile Paste
Preheat the broiler. Place the tomatillos, tomato and serrano chile on a broiler pan and place in the broiler for 6 to 8 minutes, turning, until all sides are blistered. When cool enough to handle, remove from the pan. Remove the stem and seeds of the chile. Transfer the tomatillos, tomato, and chile to a blender.
Slice off and remove the stem of the dried chilies and pour out the seeds. Heat a heavy- bottomed skillet, preferably cast iron, until very hot. Place the chilies in the skillet, in batches so you don’t burn them, pressing down on them. Cook for a couple seconds per side, until they blister and puff. Immediately remove the chilies and transfer to the blender. Cook the garlic for about 1 minute per side, until it starts to blacken. Transfer to the blender along with the water, salt, cumin, and cinnamon. Blend until the paste is smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides.