Add A Pop Of Color To Your Next Quesadilla With Collard Greens

Collard greens may be a classic Southern soul food staple, but you can bring its utility as a delicious ingredient even further south by adding it to a quesadilla. Mexican quesadillas feature a guisado, or cooked ingredient, topped with a mild white cheese and toasted over the griddle for a comforting, savory handheld. Guisado is a blanket term for everything from sauteed meats to stewed vegetables, and collard greens as a stewed veggie will fit right in.

The dark leafy vegetable will bring a pop of green to an otherwise white color palette and a wealth of rich, vegetal flavor and hearty texture to a quesadilla. Plus, it's a novel way to repurpose leftover homemade collard greens or dress up a boring can of them. Collard green melts are already a famous sandwich recipe and proof of how successfully savory, slightly bitter collard greens pair with a creamy, rich melted cheese; swap bread for a flour or corn tortilla, using the same basic skillet or griddle method.

Since collard greens come stewed, placing them in between two layers of shredded cheese will create a creamy buffer for the thin tortilla. That said, you can use a slotted spoon to strain a portion of the cooking liquid. The cheese will absorb the residual broth, which will help integrate the collards and cheese into one gooey, chewy centerpiece to contrast with the toasted tortilla.

Collard green quesadilla flavor pairings and tips

While flour tortillas will serve as a tasty vehicle for a collards and cheese quesadilla, corn tortillas would offer the ultimate flavor and texture pairing. As a classic Southern dish, collard greens are often eaten alongside cornbread, which is used to soak up the leftover potlikker that pools under each serving. A corn tortilla will mimic the irresistible flavor combination between earthy, savory corn and collard greens. Corn tortillas also tend to be thicker and sturdier than flour tortillas, so they won't buckle under the weight of their fillings.

To make corn tortillas as malleable and flexible as a flour tortilla, heat the tortilla on the griddle before adding cheese and collard greens. You could also serve collard green-stuffed quesadillas with a small bowl of potlikker for dipping. Since collard greens have a robust flavor, often featuring bits of ham, turkey, or bacon, you can substitute the mild panela or Oaxaca cheese typically used in quesadillas for a sharp white cheddar.

Other delicious ingredient pairings to try with collard greens include yellow corn, rajas or bell pepper, fried onions, and spicy chorizo. White beans or black-eyed peas would add more heft and savory richness to the quesadilla filling. Collard greens taste even better with a spicy kick from hot sauces or Cajun seasoning, so a drizzle of Tabasco sauce or a Cajun seasoning-spiked sour cream would make great garnishes.