Cuban Quesadilla

When I was a kid, my mom would often take me to one of her favorite Cuban spots in Downtown Brooklyn. It was a tiny place, only a few tables, but with a very classy and modern feel. We were at this place all the time, bringing friends and family along. I have to say, I didn’t mind it at all. Every single time we went I’d only get one thing; their absolutely amazing Cuban Quesadilla.

This recipe is heavily inspired by the warm, cheesy, savory and a little sweet goodness that was this quesadilla. Now, I might have thrown you off by the “sweet” comment, but hang in there with me!

Cuban Quesadilla

I wish I was able to find the restaurant again, but restaurants in New York City are a dime a dozen. They come and go so often, and even the spots you claim are where it’s at and the G.O.A.T. suddenly start to disappear and new hip & happening spots take their place. I had to recreate this dish from memory, but since I’ve tasted it over a dozen times, I think I can say with confidence that I got pretty damn close!

First, I’d like to invite you to pop over to my Ropa Vieja recipe. Don’t worry, I’ll wait….

Cuban Quesadilla

You back? Good! You’re going to need to start there as Ropa Vieja is the key ingredient in this recipe and effectively what makes this recipe “Cuban”. Next let's talk cheese, after all, this is what puts the “queso” in quesadilla! I know, I’m corny, but I have to admit I struggled a bit with this one. I couldn’t remember what type of cheese they used in this recipe, just that it was white and mild. Mozzarella wasn’t right so I figured it had to be a jack cheese. Monterrey Jack was the way to go! 

And finally, the beautiful, sweet and ingenious addition of platanos maduros. Maduros are fried sweet plantains, the ones that are usually cut thick, fried and have a sweet taste, close to banana, but definitely not banana. And no, bananas are not recommended as a substitute in this recipe. It’s the maduros in this dish that completely stole my heart and what makes this quesadilla unlike any other!

Platanos Maduros

Maduros are very quick and easy to make, but make sure you have a very ripe plantain. The riper, or blacker, the sweeter. The more yellow or green, the more savory. Make sure you pick up a nice ripe one for this dish. Slice your plantains into thick slices, I slice mine on an angle, about an inch and half thick. Fry them in about 1 inch or whatever frying oil you like. I just use vegetable oil. The maduros take about 4-5 minutes to fully brown, 2 minutes per side. When removing them from the hot oil, place maduros on a cloth or paper towels to soak up excess oil. To prepare these for the quesadillas, I cut the maduros into smaller cubes, so that they fit well inside the tortilla. 

Cuban Quesadilla

Now you can start cooking your quesadilla! I like to cook mine two at a time in a large skillet. Although, if I still had my George Forman Grill that I had to sell before moving to Hawaii, I’d absolutely use that instead! It’s one of the most perfect tools for quesadilla making! Quesadillas can be cooked in the skillet two at a time if folded in half, or one at a time, using two tortillas to sandwich the filling inside. The folding in half method will obviously yield less servings.

So that’s it for the Cuban Quesadilla! Let me know your thoughts on the addition of the platano maduros in the comments below!

Cuban Quesadilla

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Cuban Quesadilla
Named after a popular restuarnt dish, stuffed with Ropa Vieja, Monterey Jack cheese and sweet plantains.
  • 1 lb Ropa Vieja
  • 1 very ripe (sweet) plantain, peeled and sliced 1 1/2 inches
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 6-8 small tortillas
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • oil for frying
  • sour cream (optional side)
  • salsa (optional side)
  • In a medium-sized pot or skillet, fry plantains for 4-5 minutes or until browned in 1 inch of frying oil. Place on a cloth or paper towel-lined plate to soak excess oil and let cool. Cut plantains into smaller cubes, about 1/4 the size of each slice.
  • Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a medium to large skillet. Place down one tortilla in the skillet and top one side with cheese, ropa vieja and plantain pieces. Fold the other half over and cook for 2 minutes per side, until cheese is melted and tortilla has browned. Cook 2 quesadillas at a time, if desired. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
  • Slice quesadillas into wedges and serve with a side of sour cream and salsa.
  • Details
    Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 6-8 servings
    Skill Level: Easy