Prior to my current fixation on grain-based salads (inspired by a pair of too-snug-for-polite-company khakis), we were eating a whole lot of quesadillas. Maybe that was the problem. But with literally dozens of tortillas in a pack, the versatility of quesadillas, and the blissful cheesy goodness, it was hard to resist, especially on nights when there was no time to cook something more complicated. I realize that relying on a recipe to make a quesadilla is a little bit ridiculous given their intrinsic simplicity, but consider this a glorified version, a layered tower of tortillas, cheese, beans, and corn, jazzed up with a spicy kick. This so-called “tortilla cake” is oven-baked, making it a little crispier than your average quesadilla and a little healthier, given that the only oil is a little bit brushed on the top tortilla for browning. It’s by no means revolutionary, but for a quick and easy variation on a classic, it’s worth trying. We made ours as healthy as we could by topping it with fresh diced tomatoes and a little fat-free plain yogurt (as a sour cream substitute), but it would be great with the classics: salsa, sour cream, and guacamole.
This recipe was originally from the May 1995 issue of Gourmet and can be found here on Epicurious.
Corn and black bean tortilla cakes (makes 3 “cakes”, serves 6 total)
1 cup rinsed and drained canned black beans, patted dry
1 cup fresh corn (from about 2 ears)
1 cup finely chopped red onion
1 1/2 cups grated extra-sharp white Cheddar cheese (about 6 ounces)
1 1/2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese (about 6 ounces)
twelve 6- to 7-inch flour tortillas
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1. Preheat oven to 450. In a bowl, toss together beans, corn, and onion. In another bowl, toss together cheeses.
2. Put 3 tortillas in one layer on a large heavy baking sheet. Sprinkle each tortilla with about 1/3 cup bean mixture and about 1/3 cup cheese mixture and top with a second tortilla.
3. Make 2 more layers on each tortilla in same manner with remaining bean mixture, cheeses, and tortillas, gently pressing each layer down and ending with a fourth tortilla on top of each cake. (Tortilla cakes may be prepared up to this point 6 hours ahead and chilled, wrapped well in plastic wrap.)
4. In a small bowl, stir together oil and cayenne and lightly brush mixture over top of each cake. Bake cakes in middle of oven until golden, about 12 to 15 minutes. Cut cakes into wedges and serve immediately with fresh diced tomatoes, salsa, sour cream, or guacamole.