Thirty Minute Thursdays: Easy Mexican Tortizzas

Today’s Thirty Minute Thursday might be an interesting one. Not only am I camped out on L’s campus for his senior week, but my trusty, battered-and-stained Rachael Ray cookbook is hiding in one of the many boxes taking up residence in my living room, waiting to be unpacked from the move back home. I managed to find one archived recipe – this quesadilla pizza – that I tweaked so significantly that I luckily can write about it without Rachael’s original recipe in front of me. Mostly. I hope. However, I don’t have my notes on how, exactly, this meal tasted. We’re going to have to go off of memory and so I warn you now – you may be getting a lot of adjectives like “good,” “delicious,” and “tasty.” I know they mean nothing. I’ll try my best. But believe me when I tell you, no matter what I write next, this recipe was definitely good, delicious, and tasty.

The original recipe is intriguing in that it actually takes a traditional cheese quesadilla and tops it with pizza-like toppings. I try to use cheese as an accent more than a main component of a meal, plus I wasn’t interested in eating two full, large tortillas in addition to all of the cheese and toppings I had in mind, so I ditched this technique. Nonetheless, it conjured up images of a Mexican-inspired, still-infinitely-healthier-than-your-typical stuffed crust pizza, and I thought that was pretty cool. So if you want, instead of using one flat tortilla as the crust, you can make a full-on cheese quesadilla – melted cheese between two grilled tortillas – and then plop the toppings over that. You could also do all of that and then slice the pizza in half to yield 2 servings, and make the entire meal a little more substantial by pairing it with a light salad.

I would encourage you, whether you make it as a “stuffed crust” quesadilla pizza or just a regular tortilla pizza (or “tortizza” as I like to call it), to think of this recipe as a suggestion. Take your very favorite taco or quesadilla ingredients and incorporate them into this meal. Use what you have, what you like. Add beans, grilled chicken, or steak; use guacamole as a pizza “sauce” instead of the salsa; dollop it with plain greek yogurt to garnish. I want to show you the method behind making a really good “tortizza,” so don’t get bogged down by the ingredients that I happened to have on hand that week. This is all about personalization. Enjoy!

Personal Mexican Tortizzas
This recipe features a thin, whole grain tortilla baked until crisp, with versatile and Mexican-inspired toppings that turn it into a festive, easy version of homemade pizza.

Yield: 1 serving
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

The Ingredients
¼ onion, sliced
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ bell pepper, sliced
1 (whole grain) tortilla
3 tablespoons favorite salsa
⅓ cup spinach
1 tablespoon favorite cheese

The Method
Place the oil and the onion in a pan over medium heat and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onions soften and begin to brown, 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and bell pepper and continue to cook until the pepper, too, has softened and developed a slight char on the edges.

Meanwhile, place the tortilla on a lightly greased baking sheet1 and spread the salsa evenly over it, leaving approximately ½-inch border along the perimeter clear. Top with the sautéed vegetables and spinach, and sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top. Place in an oven set to 350° Fahrenheit and bake until the cheese has melted and the outer edges of the tortilla have crisped and turn golden-brown, approximately 10 minutes.2

Source, inspiration: Rachael Ray's Classic 30 Minute Meals

1Because I only needed 1 serving, I used the baking sheet for the toaster oven and avoided the need for preheating the full oven. However, if you’re making this for multiple people, use a regular baking sheet and be sure to leave time while the vegetables are cooking for the oven to preheat.
2Note that this will not crisp the entire tortilla – the inner parts covered by the topping will remain soft. If you’d like a fully crisp tortilla crust, pre-bake and add the toppings to warm for the final 5 minutes. However, I have not experimented with the exact timing so be sure to keep an eye on it while it cooks.

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