Saturday mornings, the world is my oyster. Saturday mornings, while the sun streams through the window and I drink my second mug of coffee, I think about making elaborate meals and stocking my refrigerator for the week so I'm not forced to eat Hamburger Helper midweek. And then the weekend begins in earnest. The hubster convinces me I should pay a grudging visit to the gym, I call my mom before she has a chance to call and complain about how I never call, I hang out with friends who don't talk or think about food all the time (as an aside, I'm in the market for real live foodie friends who don't live in my computer) and I do laundry. Lots and lots of laundry. For two people with no kids, we sure have a lot of laundry. We'll probably have to buy stock in the Tide company once we actually have kids. The point is, there are many weeks where I'm not as prepared meal wise as I'd like to be for the upcoming week.
And inevitably, come Wednesday night after a long and crazy day of work, I'm staring inside a fridge containing only a bottle of pseudo-Asian inspired marinade, two limp celery stalks, and a sad looking carton of baking powder. Oh, and the ever empty Brita pitcher, sitting there serenely, mocking me. Given the success of the Mark Bittman Fried Rice, I decided to start a collection of recipes for easy weeknight dinners for the working woman (or man, though I know men are generally pretty cool with eating cereal for dinner. Wait, so am I, Hmm.). Thus, the Weeknight Dinners for the Working Woman (or Man) series was born. The recipes involve relatively simple ingredients and preparation, perfect after standing around for ten hours in an itchy skirt and high heels that pinch your toes. No scented foam or eight hours of slow cooking here, folks. These are meals designed to ensure you aren't forced to eat a peanut butter n' jelly sandwich for dinner (notwithstanding the days your boss yells at you, your clients yell at you, the parking attendant yells at you, and the only thing that'll make you feel better is a peanut butter n' jelly sandwich).
This Wednesday's exhibit? Green Chilli Chicken Quesadillas. I know, I know. Your five-year-old can bust out a chicken quesadilla that'd make Rick Bayless jealous. But remember, this is weeknight dinners for the working woman (or man) and unless your five-year-old is putting in 60-70 hours draftng briefs and filing motions, I remain unimpressed by his coloring, nap time, and sandwiches cut in the shape of stars. Unimpressed and oh, so envious.
So, back to the quesadillas. Anyone can throw some cooked chicken and cheese on a tortilla, plop it in the George Foreman and cut the finished product into fancy triangles. But not everyone has a giant cache of tomatillo sauce. Read it and weep, five-year-old! Summertime is the perfect time for gorgeous tomatillos and a few weekends ago, I got a bushel of tomatillos and pureed the heck out of 'em to make giant vats of sauce that we are eating with everything. A dollop on scrambled eggs? Check. Poured on enchiladas? Check. Eaten straight from the container while standing in front of the fridge? Check.
So, the chicken is uber simple to make and cooking it is definitely better than sitting in the drive-thru, talking to yourself about how it's almost a national holiday and you may finally get to sleep in until 9:00 a.m. Chop the chicken in cubes, season with a couple of teaspoons of crushed garlic, onion powder, salt, pepper, and thinly sliced green chillis (serranos, jalapenos or the like, depending on your heat tolerance). Cheese? I use cheddar because I like cheddar. Cheddar is close to American cheese and we know American cheese comforts me. You can pretty much use any cheese you want (or more realistically, have on hand). Tortillas? Flour, wheat, corn are all good. Give it a generous spritz of oil and cook your quesedilla on the pan or my personal favorite, in the panini press.
Now for the sauce. The most versatile sauce is nothing more than a pureed salsa verde. If you make a giant batch, you can even go halfsies and leave one part chunky to eat with tortilla chips while you puree the other part and put it in a container for the week. You'll thank yourself, particularly if it's a week that involves researching drug recidivist provisions, pleading with government counsel to help your client, oh and convincing your other client that he cannot lie on the stand because that would be bad.
1 pound tomatillos, husked
1 onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 jalapeno peppers, minced
4 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
chicken stock or water
salt, to taste
Boil tomatillos in salted water until tender. Add to blender.
Heat oil and brown onions. Add remaining ingredients once onion is soft. Cook for one minute.
Add to blender. Puree with chicken stock or water until desired consistency. Add pureed sauce back to pan and cook for five minutes.