Grilled Hanger Steak Spelt Quesadillas

Grilled Hanger Steak Spelt Quesadillas

This colorful and flavorful take on quesadillas propels a familiar staple into a very appealing meal, though grilled chicken or shrimp are other options. If desired, add a tablespoon of mayonnaise to the pesto to smooth it out and help the meat adhere to the tortillas. 

See other related recipes in The Power of Alternative Flours

Yield: 4 main course quesadillas
Prep time: about 45 minutes
Shelf life: These are best eaten once prepared; pesto keeps at least 1 week in the refrigerator

Ingredients

Salsa 
4 ounces pineapple, cut in small cubes
2 ounces red bell pepper, cut in small cubes
1 ounce red onion, finely chopped
.1 ounce minced jalapeño (about 1 large)
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon honey
.5 ounce chopped fresh cilantro
¼ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Cilantro-Pumpkin Seed Pesto 
3 ounces shelled and toasted pumpkin seeds
2 ounces cilantro with thick stems removed, plus a few extra cilantro leaves to garnish
.2 ounces garlic
½ teaspoon ground coriander
3 ½ to 4 ounces extra-virgin olive oil
1+ tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Tortillas
2 cups spelt flour
½ teaspoon fine salt
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
½ cup+ warm water

Quesadillas 
Vegetable oil to brush skillet or sheet pan
8 (6-inch) spelt or other alternative flour tortillas
Vegetable oil to brush pan
8 ounces queso blanco
Minced pickled jalapeños, optional
10 to 12 ounces hanger steak

Preparation

  1. For tortillas: In a bowl, combine the spelt flour and salt. Add the oil and 1/2 cup water; mix into a slightly sticky dough, adding more water as needed. Turn onto a workspace dusted with spelt flour and knead until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky, 1 to 2 minutes. Divide into walnut size balls (about 12), cover with a towel, and set aside to rest for 15 minutes.
  2. Lightly dust each ball with flour and, using either a tortilla press or large resealable plastic bags, flatten into about a 6-inch disk, using a rolling pin if too thick. If not using immediately, wrap in lightly moistened paper towels placed inside of resealable plastic bags and refrigerate.
  3. Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly brush with oil, and cook each tortilla until slightly bubbly with pale brown spots on the bottom, 30 minutes to 1 minute; turn and cook the second side until done. Remove and cover. 
  4. For the salsa: In a bowl, combine the pineapple, red bell pepper, onion, and jalapeño. In a small bowl, whisk the lime juice, oil, and honey together; pour over the salsa. Add the cilantro, salt and pepper, and toss again. Cover and refrigerate until needed. 
  5. In a food processor, pulse the pumpkin seeds, cilantro, garlic, and coriander until coarsely chopped. Add 3 ½ ounces of the olive oil and the lime juice, and blend into a coarse paste, adding additional oil and lime juice as needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until needed. 
  6. For each quesadilla: Heat an 8-inch skillet over medium-high until hot. Brush one side of a tortilla with a little oil. Lay it in the pan, oiled side down. Drizzle on 2 ounces of cheese and a few pickled jalapeños, if using, avoiding the edges. Cover with the second tortilla, oiled side up, and cook until the underside is browned in spots. Turn and cook the second side until done. Keep warm in an oven while preparing the other quesadillas. Or, bake them on a sheet pan in a preheated 350-degree oven, turning once, until the desired degree of crispness, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, heat a grill pan until hot. Season the steak with salt and pepper and grill until desired degree of doneness, about 4 minutes on the first side, and 3 on the second side for medium-rare. Remove and let stand for a few minutes before thinly slicing it across the grain.
  8. To serve: spread a thin layer of pesto on each quesadilla. Add the steak slices and a generous spoonful of salsa to each slice along with a few cilantro leaves, and serve.