Recipe of the Week | California Quesadillas

California Quesadillas | Photo by Randolph Graham

Also known as goat cheese, “Chèvre” has a distinct, tangy flavor. Made from (you guessed it) goat’s milk, it’s available in soft, semi-soft and firm varieties. Check labels when you can. Some brands are made from a mixture of both goat and cow milk.

Some might consider it an acquired taste, but the tangy bite and super-creamy texture of goat cheese lends itself to all kinds of foods including quesadillas. Sure, quesadillas are tortillas and cheese, but they can be so much more! With colorful red and green sauces, and just enough flavorful goat cheese, this California favorite makes a delicious and healthy meal.

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce Ingredients:

1 small onion (chopped)

2 cloves garlic (minced)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 red bell peppers (roasted, skins & seeds removed)

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro (chopped)

¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper


Pesto Ingredients:

2 ½ cup packed fresh basil

½ cup packed fresh Italian parsley

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

5 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic (chopped)

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

8 small flour tortillas (6 inches in diameter)

5 ounces plain semi-soft goat cheese

To make the roasted red-pepper sauce: In a medium skillet, combine the onions, garlic, and olive oil. Cook over medium heat for 4 minutes, or until the onions are soft. Transfer to a food processor. Press red peppers between paper towels to remove excess moisture. Add the peppers, cilantro, and black pepper. Process until smooth. Scrape contents into a bowl, wash out the blender bowl and set contents aside [note: if the consistency is soupy, reduce it on the stove to make sure it has most of the water removed or the quesadillas will be soggy.

To make the pesto: Place all ingredients into blender or food processor. Blend until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Cover and set aside.

Assembly: Lay 4 of the tortillas on a work surface. Divide the goat cheese among them and spread evenly to cover the tortillas. Divide the red-pepper sauce among them and spread evenly. Spread pesto on the red sauce and top with the remaining 4 tortillas.

Coat a large skillet with no-stick spray and heat over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer 1 quesadilla to the skillet and cook for 3 minutes per side, or until lightly browned. Remove to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Coat the skillet with no-stick spray and cook another quesadilla. Repeat to cook all the quesadillas.

Use a pizza wheel to cut each quesadilla into 4 triangle-shaped pieces.  Serve while still warm. No need for salsa or sour cream. These quesadillas are good as is!


For additional recipes, see Chef Randy’s website at

Chef Randy has been a vegetarian for over 40 years and eats local and organic grain, fresh fruit, and vegetables as much as possible. He is known locally as the “Healthy Chef.” His column, Chef Randy, is syndicated in California newspapers. See his website at for more recipes.

Visit his author’s page on Amazon for culinary inspiration!  


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