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Dinner Tonight! | Second Helpings

Yo Quiero Shrimp

July 17, 2002|DIANE MORGAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Grilled shrimp makes for quick summer meals at my house. I like to prepare it in one of two ways, and I often grill extra. Then I have leftover shrimp for these big-flavor quesadillas.

You can peel, marinate and thread the shrimp on skewers to grill; or leave the shells on, rub the shrimp all over with a chile-based spice rub (homemade or store-bought) and toss them on the grill. Have tongs ready for turning. The shrimp are grilled to perfection in minutes.

One pound of medium-large shrimp (about 25 per pound) serves four. Buy an extra half-pound for these quesadillas.

Morgan is coauthor of "Dressed to Grill: Savvy Recipes for Girls Who Play With Fire" (Chronicle Books, $16.95).

Queso fresco slices more easily and crumbles less if cut when cold.

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Grilled Shrimp Quesadillas

Active Work and Total Preparation Time: 25 minutes

1 1/2 tablespoons oil

1 large sweet onion, such as a Vidalia or Walla Walla, thinly sliced

4 (10-inch) flour tortillas

1/2 pound grilled shrimp, peeled, halved lengthwise

1 1/2 cups halved cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro

12 ounces queso fresco or Muenster cheese, thinly sliced

Salsa, for serving

Heat a large heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat. Add the oil, swirl to coat the pan, and immediately add the sliced onion. Cook the slices, stirring frequently, until well browned (almost a little charred) at the edges but still crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Adjust the heat higher, if necessary, so the onions cook quickly. Remove to a plate and wipe out the skillet. Turn the heat to medium.

To assemble the quesadillas, divide the onion among the tortillas, spreading them over half of each tortilla. Divide the shrimp among the tortillas, arranging it on top of the onion. Scatter the tomatoes and cilantro evenly over the shrimp. Arrange the cheese over the filling. Fold the tortillas over to form half-circles.

Heat the skillet over medium heat. Place 1 or 2 tortillas in the pan (depending on the size of the pan) and cook until the bottom is nicely browned, about 2 minutes. Use a wide spatula or 2 spatulas--sandwiching the tortilla between them--to turn the quesadillas. Brown the other side, making sure the cheese melts. Place on a cutting board. Repeat to make the other quesadillas.

Use a sharp knife to cut each quesadilla into 3 wedges. Arrange on warm dinner plates and serve immediately with salsa.

4 servings. Each serving: 428 calories; 830 mg sodium; 149 mg cholesterol; 23 grams fat; 11 grams saturated fat; 23 grams carbohydrates; 31 grams protein; 2.61 grams fiber.

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