Wednesday, June 8, 2011

mini kalamata olive quesedillas with tzatziki

Olives and I have a tumultuous history. When I was little, I loved them more than any small child should. I ate my parents' boozy martini olives. I used to eat kalamatas straight out of the container. I loved them so much that I ate an entire container of them and it didn't end well. I couldn't bring myself to eat one for years after that. I must have been about 18 when I allowed these briney purple wonders back into my life, and boy did I ever. The intense love for them that I had as a child returned in full force. There is just something about them - their saltiness, their tang, their meaty texture... they taste like nothing else. I can't think of anything more quintessentially exotic in flavour than a kalamata olive.

If you've never had a kalamata, I order you to go to a deli and buy some right now, marinated in oil and with pits in. Canned black olives are their flavourless, lye-cured cousins - it strikes me as bizarre that anyone would choose to eat them at all.

Almost three years ago, something happened that drastically cut my olive consumption - I started dating a guy who hates them. Luckily for both of us, I forgave him this affront to humanity, but in general, I can only get my olive on when I'm cooking for one. I understand that kalamata quesedillas with tzatziki is a bit of a weird fusion, but as Adam is in New York City for the week, I knew it was now or never. With the heat and humidity being off the charts, I couldn't bring myself to use the oven for a pizza, so kalamata quesedillas were born!

Some tips: It is crucial that your onions are very tiny. You're not sauteeing them first. If they are too big, they will not soften in your quesedilla. Think in millimeters and not centimeters, or you might have an unpleasant surprise. If you are feeling lazy and don't want to squeeze out your cukes for the tzatziki, rethink. It makes a difference and it's easy. Just put your grated cucumber on some paper towel a few layers thick, wrap it up and squeeze it over the sink. You will have a much thicker and lovelier tzatziki!

mini kalamata quesedillas
serves 1 big man-sized appetite, or 2 small appetites.
(eight mini quesedillas)

4 small whole wheat tortillas
15-20 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1 heaping tbsp very finely diced red onion
1/2 cup grated mild white cheese, such as cheddar or brick
1/4 cup crumbled feta
2 pinches of oregano


1/2 cup plain yogurt (not fat free, I use 2 or 3.5%)
1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 small clove of garlic, minced
1/2 cup grated cucumber, moisture squeezed out in paper towel
1 pinch of salt

For the quesedillas, divide your ingredients between two tortillas. Layer your mild cheese, onions, olives, feta and oregano, then top with the other two tortillas.  Do yourself a favour and fry them over medium-high heat in a non-stick pan without any added oil. Quesedillas can quickly go from being tasty and cheesy to greasy and nasty with the addition of oil.

Combine all the tzatziki ingredients and stir well. Let the flavours mingle in the fridge for a couple of hours if you can.

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