MEXICAN food has become a part of our everyday cuisine in Australia.
There is a vast difference between the fast food variety bought from chain outlets and the real deal from Mexico, just as real American southern fried chicken differs from that served by the Colonel and a true Aussie burger tastes nothing like the product that emerges from the golden arches.
While beans and cheese do feature in everyday Mexican cuisine, there are many more parts to the picture.
A mole is a rich savoury sauce made with bitter chocolate that is served with meat; a combination developed by the ancient Aztecs and Mayans.
From this part of the world also came peanuts, the all-important corn, vanilla and coconut.
When the Spanish conquistadores arrived they introduced pork, beef, wine, vinegar and cheese, which were all embraced by the locals and integrated into their cuisine.
The one thread that runs through authentic Mexican food is fresh colourful ingredients, prepared simply.
Today's recipe is for the Mexican version of a cheese sandwich, the quesadilla (pronounced kay-sa-DEE-yah).
Flavoursome and quick to prepare, quesadilla can be served as a light lunch or with a salad on the side for a more substantial meal.
You can omit the chilli powder if you prefer.
Spinach and cheese quesadilla
1 large fresh cob of corn OR 1 can corn niblets, drained
100g baby spinach leaves, washed and patted dry
3/4 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
1/4 tspn chilli powder
1 cup red kidney beans, drained
3 green onions, chopped
1 yellow or red capsicum, seeded and diced
1/2 cup grated tasty Cheddar
16 soft corn tortillas
olive oil spray
1 ripe avocado, seeded and peeled
juice of 1 lime
1/2 bunch fresh coriander, a little salsa and sour cream, to serve
Blanch fresh corn in boiling water for two minutes if using and remove niblets with a sharp knife. Set aside.
Finely chop spinach leaves and scrape into a bowl; add cottage cheese and chilli powder and mix well. You can also do this step in a food processor.
Combine beans, green onions and capsicum in a small bowl.
Preheat grill on high.
Assemble quesadilla on a baking tray: place eight tortillas on tray and spread each with spinach mixture.
Top with bean mixture and scatter with Cheddar then place remaining tortillas on top. Spray lightly with olive oil.
Place under hot grill for 4-5 minutes or until quesadilla are lightly browned on top.
Dice avocado and squeeze with lime juice. Combine with blanched corn or drained canned corn and scatter over quesadilla.
Drizzle with a little salsa and sour cream.
Serve immediately with fresh coriander leaves on top.