Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Smoked Salmon and Black Bean Quesadillas with Guacamole and Fresh Salsa

Smoked salmon is a flavorful, refreshing change from typical cheese, chicken, or beef quesadillas, and there’s no cooking required when you buy the very thinly sliced variety in four-ounce packages, ready to go in or on whatever dish you’re preparing. (Thye're available in the seafood sections of many markets.)

Thinly Sliced Smoked Salmon
In this recipe, the salmon is simply placed between layers of spicy pureed black beans (“refried,” as they’re called, although there’s no frying involved), spiked with a little chipotle pepper to complement the smokiness of the salmon. Since the dish is made easy with prepared fish and canned black beans, all you have to do is make the guacamole and salsa.

As for those, two words: simple, fresh. The most authentic versions of both these condiments use few ingredients and allow the most important ones to stand out. Guacamole is all about avocado. Salsa is all about tomatoes, chiles, and onion.

A tip on guacamole: make it just before serving. Oxidation occurs rapidly in the avocado and while it’s okay to eat when it turns greenish-brown, the drab color can be a bit off-putting. You may have heard that plastic wrap or even leaving the pit in helps prevent oxidation, but if you’ve tried those methods, you know the reports of their success have been greatly exaggerated.

Fresh lime juice slows down the process of oxidation, but nothing will stop the color change. Simply prepare the guacamole just before grilling the quesadillas and serve it fresh and green a few minutes later. 

Altogether, these quesadillas are delicious, easy, fast, and healthful. Doesn’t get much better than that.

Serves 4


For the Salsa
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 3 cayenne or 2 serrano chiles, stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 small red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 small red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp coarsely chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
Ingredients for the Salsa
For the Guacamole
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • sea salt
  • 1 large, ripe avocado
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
Ingredients for the Guacamole
For the Quesadillas
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp adobo sauce
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 8-inch flour tortillas (fajita-sized)
  • 1 4-oz package thinly sliced smoked salmon

For the Salsa
  1. Combine the first 7 ingredients (through lime juice) in a food processor and pulse until chunky smooth. Remove to a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Fresh Salsa
For the Guacamole
  1. Place the garlic cloves and salt in a shallow bowl and mash with a fork until a chunky paste forms.
  2. Slice the avocado in half lengthwise and remove the pit. Scoop the flesh into the bowl with the garlic paste and add the cilantro and lime juice. Smash gently, just enough to incorporate the ingredients, not to make it smooth. (Real guacamole isn’t creamy.)

For the Quesadillas
  1. Heat a small saucepan over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the scallions and sauté 2 minutes. Add the beans, broth, chipotle pepper, and adobo sauce and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Bring to a simmer and cook until the liquid is slightly reduced, about 4 minutes. Remove the bean mixture to a food processor and process until smooth.
Cooked Black Beans with Chipotle
Pureed Black Bean Mixture
  1. Lay the tortillas on a work surface. Divide the bean puree and spread 1/4 of it on each of 2 tortillas, leaving about a 1/4-inch edge.
  2. Divide the salmon and lay the slices on top of the bean puree. Divide the remaining bean puree and spread 1/4 of it on each of the 2 remaining tortillas. Place the remaining tortillas on top of the first and press down gently.
First Layer of the Quesadilla
Second Layer of the Quesadilla
  1. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat and brush with olive oil. Lay 1 quesadilla in the pan and press with a grill press or large spatula. Continue pressing until the bottom tortilla begins to crisp and has grill marks, 2-3 minutes.
  2. Turn and grill until the other side has grill marks and the quesadilla is hot throughout, 1-2 minutes longer. Remove to a cutting board and repeat with the other quesadilla.
  3. To serve, slice each quesadilla into 4 wedges and place 2 slices on each of 4 plates. Top each slice with a dollop of guacamole and salsa, or pass the condiments at the table. (Save leftover salsa for chips, or to spoon over grilled chicken.)
Quesadilla Ready to Grill
Quesadilla in the Grill Pan
Grilled Quesadilla

1 comment:

  1. Hello,
    Thanks for the excellent contribution to the discussion.