Melbourne-based home cook Matt Garzaniti is behind website and Instagram account Stay for Lunch, where he shares dishes and skills he learnt from his nonna “Cicia” Francesca. “It really stems from wanting to share the traditions, recipes and family experiences that I had growing up, particularly making things like salami or pickling,” he says.

Garzaniti spent much of his childhood in his grandparents’ garden (he calls it “the farm”) collecting eggs, growing vegetables and picking fruit. He still loves spending weekends making pasta from scratch “or cooking a seven-hour ragu that requires a whole heap of prep,” he says. “But on a weeknight, I don’t have the luxury of time. I love something that’s quick, has flavour and requires minimal effort to pull together – and minimal clean-up as well.”

Old El Paso’s quesadilla kit fits the brief. “You don’t need to go digging through the pantry or go back and forth thinking about what to cook,” he says. “You’ve got the foundations there that you can pull together to deliver a flavourful meal … If you’ve got friends coming over on a weeknight, it’s something quick you can pull together, whack in the middle of the table and have a good old yarn.”

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Even better, it’s a meal you can prepare ahead. First, you can marinate the chicken in the morning and place it in the fridge, so it’s ready to cook when you get home from work. Then later, once the quesadillas are assembled, wrap them in baking paper and place in an airtight container to store in the fridge or freezer for a later date: that way they’re ready to go straight into the sandwich press for lunch at work, or thaw and grill them for a night when you really can’t be bothered.

“It can be hard to get into the mindset of meal prep, but what happens if you don’t is you get home and you probably end up scrolling through some sort of takeaway [app], ordering something that’s going to cost you more, and take more time,” Garzaniti says. “From a budget perspective, you can make something like this for far less and save on delivery fees.”

Garzaniti says meal kits like Old El Paso’s also save you from scrounging around the pantry for ingredients and uncertain substitutes. “You don’t need to grab six different spices … that expire by the next time you go to pick it up,” he says. “You’ve got all the flavour [in one packet] without having to spend a lot on individual products.”

That’s not to say you can’t sub out the chicken for beef or black beans, or chuck extra vegetables in, like corn and zucchini. And given Garzaniti loves a bit of heat, he always has a Mexican-style vinegar-based hot sauce on hand to balance out the quesadilla’s smoky flavours and the tangy green sauce.

Stay for Lunch’s spiced chicken quesadillas with tangy green sauce

Serves: 2 with leftovers
Prep time: 15 min + 30 min marinating time (minimum)
Cook time: 20 min

Ingredients:

500g chicken tenderloins
2 tbsps olive oil, divided
1 Old El Paso quesadilla kit
3 spring onions
1/4 cup water
1 small green capsicum, diced
1 shallot, sliced
1 can (435g) Old El Paso refried beans
200g shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup chopped coriander
1/4 cup water
Salt

Green sauce:

1 avocado
1 Old El Paso guacamole spice mix (from kit)
1 long green chilli
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sugar
1/3 cup coriander
50ml lime juice
Salt and white pepper to taste
2 tbsp olive oild

Method:

Marinate the chicken in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and quesadilla spice mix from the Old El Paso quesadilla kit. Stir until the chicken is well coated and set aside.

Heat a cast-iron grill. Once smoking, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and whole spring onions, cooking until charred. Set aside to cool, then roughly chop.

For the chicken, fry over high heat until browned on both sides, then turn the heat to medium and add the water (to prevent burning), covering until cooked. Once cooked, remove the chicken and let it rest before cutting into small cubes.

Using the same pan, add the capsicum and shallots and cook until softened. Toss together with the diced chicken, sauce, coriander and spring onions, then set aside. Heat the Old El Paso refried beans according to can instructions.

To make the green sauce, blitz all ingredients in a food processor. Alternatively, use a stick blender or finely chop all ingredients and mix in a mortar and pestle.

To assemble the quesadilla, lay out a tortilla and spread 1 tablespoon of refried beans over one half. Then layer the shredded cheese, the chicken mix, and more cheese before folding in half.

Using a clean pan on low heat, place a single assembled quesadilla and press down with a chef’s press or small plate, cooking until golden brown on both sides and the cheese has melted.

To plate up, cut the quesadilla in half and serve with the green sauce, fresh coriander and your favourite hot sauce.

For meal prepping, layer assembled quesadillas between baking paper and place in a sealed container and keep in the fridge or freezer. To cook, follow above instructions once thawed.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with OId El Paso.