We prefer Nova salmon for this particular recipe because it's the mildest and least salty. Although Nova has become a general term for smoked salmon, it really describes the delicacy made from fish descended from wild Nova Scotia salmon.

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1 small red onion, thinly sliced crosswise
6 oz cream cheese, softened
6 oz soft mild goat cheese at room temperature
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
12 (8-inch) flour tortillas (not low-fat)
1 lb sliced smoked salmon (preferably Nova)
1 firm-ripe California avocado
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise (2 2/3 cups)
4 cups loosely packed arugula leaves (2 to 3 bunches)
Special equipment: a large (2-burner) cast-iron griddle

Soak sliced onion in a bowl of ice and cold water 15 minutes, then drain well and pat dry.
While onion soaks, stir together cheeses, chives, zest, and pepper in a bowl with a rubber spatula until combined well.

Spread about 1 1/2 tablespoons cheese mixture evenly over each of 2 tortillas (keep remaining tortillas covered with plastic wrap). Top 1 tortilla with an even layer of salmon, covering cream cheese completely, then top with other tortilla, cheese side down. Make 5 more quesadillas in same manner, then stack on a plate and chill, covered with plastic wrap, until ready to heat.

Halve, pit, and peel avocado, then cut lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Lightly brush avocado slices with lemon juice.

Heat griddle over high heat until very hot, then reduce heat to moderate. Lightly brush 2 quesadillas on both sides with some oil, then toast on griddle (1 at a time if necessary) until undersides are golden with some blackened spots, about 1 minute. Flip quesadillas over with a spatula and toast until undersides are golden with some blackened spots, 1 to 2 minutes, then transfer to a baking sheet, arranging in 1 layer, and cover with foil to keep warm. Toast remaining quesadillas in same manner, using a second baking sheet.

Heat remaining oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook tomatoes, stirring occasionally and seasoning with salt and pepper, until just beginning to soften, about 1 minute.

Transfer quesadillas to plates, then top with onion, avocado, tomatoes, and arugula.

Makes 6 servings.


July 2005

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Taggart from Nashville, TN on 07/05/05
Top Notch! Did not deviate from the recipe at all and would not suggest doing so. Good goat cheese is a must and I always use the best ingredients I can find, which seems to make a difference with any recipe. Love the salad atop the quesadilla, adds quite a bit to the presentation as well as the overall taste.
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A Cook from Manassas, VA on 07/02/05
I made this for a late Saturday afternoon lunch. I used low carb tortillas and fat free cream cheese with the goat cheese and it melted just fine. I do not like warm, mushy tomatoes, so I omitted cooking the cherry tomatoes and just sliced some grape tomatoes (which are sweeter than cherry tomatoes) with the arugula, onion and avocado.
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