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Although these days there is a huge variety of foods and recipe styles available in Australia, I recall reading or hearing that the majority of families have a relatively small repertoire of dishes that they make and consume for dinner, punctuated by something new here and there. When I first started doing all the family cooking I didn’t have such a catalogue of recipes to fall back on, so I took to buying one of each of the monthly magazines and trawling through for inspiration. As a result we tended to eat something new and different pretty much every day, but even now, when I have a much broader selection to choose from, I still try and do something different frequently, whether it be new or something we haven’t had for a long time. With so much variety of cuisines, ingredients and, in the internet age, recipes to choose from, there is really no need to eat the same things over and over, especially if you plan ahead.

There’s a limited number of recipes I make that are in high rotation, most falling into a group I call the ‘serial pest’ meals. These are Ms Onion’s favourites, so if I ask her when I’m preparing the weekly menu if there is anything she would like to eat this week, one of these will almost inevitably come up. In this list are things like Tuna Mornay (which I’m told my son makes better than I do), a recipe by British chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall called Twice-baked Potatoes, and Coriander and Bean Quesadillas. That all these recipes are simple, quick to make and delicious means I don’t really mind making them, and besides I guess she’s worth it! Predominantly they are vegetarian as well.

As you will see, there’s not a whole lot of ingredients in this recipe other than the aforementioned beans and coriander. I’m told that coriander is very easy to grow but I’ve had limited success with it, either from seeds or seedlings. On occasions when I have got it to grow it bolts to seed so quickly that its availability is very limited. I’ve found that buying it from the supermarket has its own problems because it tends to go slimy and not last well, but I’ve solved all these problems by buying it from my local Indian grocery.

cbq1 Combine all the ingredients together in a bowl

The proprietor always has lovely fresh bunches of coriander at a ridiculously low price. I think he probably gets a new batch delivered every day or two, my assumption being that coriander is a very high turnover item in an Indian store. One day I was in there getting my coriander, about a weekly occurrence for me, and he commented how nice and fresh the coriander was. “That’s why I come here to buy it” was of course my response. I buy the majority of my spices there as well for the same reason, plus I like to support a small local business rather than the big chain stores, even though he will certainly never get rich from my meagre purchases. (In an update to my Keema story, I bought a new steel karahi from him the other day).

cbq2 Cook the quesadillas in a sandwich press or frypan.

I’ve got a sandwich press that I make these in, but there is no reason you couldn’t do them in a frying pan. The sandwich press does both sides at once and makes them hang together a bit better, but if you’re doing them in a frying pan just flip them over about halfway through the cooking time (after a couple of minutes on the first side). I like to slice the avocado thinly and leave it connected at one end allowing it to be fanned out decoratively on the plate, but if you prefer just chop it up or mash it. Every time I make these Ms Onion says “have we got some sour cream” so I’ve included it in the recipe. Don’t forget to dollop some on the side when you serve or you will be getting the same question.

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cbq3 Serve with avocado and tomato (and sour cream if you’ve remembered, unlike me).

Coriander and Bean Quesadillas

Cooking: 15-20 minutes
Serves: 4

  • 34 cup coriander leaves
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 400g can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • 2 avocados, peeled and sliced
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • Sour cream, to serve
  • Preheat a sandwich press.
  • Put the coriander, cheese, beans and spring onions in a bowl and mix together.
  • Place a tortilla on the sandwich press and add a quarter of the filling mix.
  • Cover with another tortilla, close the press and cook for 4-5 minutes.
  • Cut into wedges and transfer to a serving plate, top with avocado, tomato and sour cream and serve.
  • Repeat for the remaining tortillas.