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Italian flavors for Mexican dish



Published: Wed, October 18, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



By RENEE ENNA

CHICAGO TRIBUNE

What happens when Italian flavors get caught up in an easy-to-make quesadilla? Let's call it a pizzadilla. There are so many bold flavors in this dish, you can skip the pepperoni to make it meatless -- or use a vegetarian pepperoni instead.

Serve the wedges with an antipasto platter that accommodates diners' appetites. Go heavy on the cured meats -- mortadella, capicolla and salami, for instance -- or opt for a lighter touch with an emphasis on vegetables -- cherry tomatoes, celery, pepperoncini. In either case, a light Italian vinaigrette is a good complement.

Light-as-air pizzelles, Italian wafer cookies that are now easy to find in supermarkets and Italian shops, will satisfy your sweet tooth.

MENU:

Antipasto platter

Pizzadillas

Pizzelles

TIPS:

If you can't find the eggplant or sweet pepper spread, this recipe will work fine with your favorite pesto, homemade or store-bought.

BEVERAGE PAIRING:

A bottle of sangiovese wine would provide enough ballast for these strong flavors.

PIZZADILLAS

Eggplant spread is sold in Italian and specialty markets as well as the Italian aisle of some supermarkets. Red pepper spread (also called sweet pepper spread), made with roasted red peppers and sometimes containing eggplant, is in Middle Eastern markets, Trader Joe's, as well as some supermarkets.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 each, sliced: sweet onion, bell pepper

1/2 cup each: eggplant spread, red pepper spread

4 large (10-inch) whole-wheat tortillas or flat breads

1/4 cup pitted black olives, chopped

1/2 cup shredded Italian blend cheese

1/4 pound pepperoni, sliced, cut into strips

3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; cook onion and bell pepper, stirring often, until softened, about 10 minutes.

Spread the eggplant and red pepper spreads over two of the tortillas; top with the olives. Sprinkle with cheese. Place pepperoni strips in pinwheel formation; top with the onions and peppers. Sprinkle with basil; cover with remaining tortillas.

Place tortillas, one at a time, in skillet; press with plate or spatula until cheese melts, about 2 minutes per side. Gently flip tortilla to brown other side. Cook 2 more minutes. Slice in wedges.

Yield: 4 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 380 calories, 52 percent of calories from fat, 22 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 43 mg cholesterol, 32 g carbohydrates, 14 g protein, 1,007 mg sodium, 6.5 g fiber.




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