Delicious Nutritious Veg Quesadillas

Delicious Nutritious Veg Quesadillas

Delicious Nutritious Veg Quesadillas are a weeknight meal sure to please. With protein from rich, dark kidney beans, these satisfying quesadillas can be on the table in less than an hour. Served up with a quick, fresh guacamole, it’s the answer to “What’s for dinner?”

This is casual dining in the best tradition. Just as a great falafel sandwich will ooze down your hand as you eat all of its yummy goodness, so too do these quesadillas. Do NOT eat this wearing your favorite silk blouse or shirt!

I came across this recipe while watching a lovely Australian vlogger living in Tuscany. While we may not have been able to travel during the pandemic, I get my “fix” watching this lyrical vlog. As soon as I saw Kylie Flavell make these Delicious Nutritious Veg Quesadillas, I knew that I had to try them. And because most of the ingredients are pantry staples, it didn’t require a major excursion to the market. It’s a pretty forgiving recipe so if you need to swap out one ingredient for another, your results will likely still be delicious.

This recipe easily would feed four people, but it could also be doubled or halved. While I did use cheese, making my quesadillas vegetarian, it is vegan-friendly. Just leave the cheese out or use a vegan cheese as an alternative. The cheese does act as a kind of binder, holding everything together, so I personally recommend it. I have successfully made this with goat cheese and with a “Mexican” blend of cheeses.

And though you could use any kind of tortilla, by choosing a whole-grain option, you are increasing the nutrition quotient, while adding some additional flavor. My tortillas were 7.5-inches in diameter, but smaller or bigger ones can be used. Simply adjust how much filling you put inside. While tempting to overstuff these – don’t. The final quesadilla is surprisingly filling and too much filling will completely ooze out.

Now you could use a different bean, but dark red kidney beans are readily available, very nutritious, flavorful, inexpensive and have just the right amount of heft to give these a great mouthfeel.

Almost any cheese would work as long as it is one that gets melty. And while I used a sweet potato for added color, flavor, heft and nutrition, you could easily use butternut or other winter squash in its place. So the next time you are looking for something quick, delicious and nutritious to make in about 45 minutes or less, consider these great quesadillas.

Recipe

Delicious Nutritious Veg Quesadillas

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

1 medium red onion, peeled and coarsely chopped

3/4 teaspoon each: salt, cumin, turmeric, chili powder, paprika (preferably smoked Spanish paprika)

Generous pinch of ground cinnamon

About 3 Tablespoons of EVOO or Canola

1 large bell pepper – red, orange or yellow, diced (You could use green – I just am not partial to them)

2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced

15 oz. can of dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes with their liquid, preferably fire roasted

2 Tablespoons tomato paste

About 4 to 6 ounces of shredded or cut up cheese or to taste, if using

For fresh guacamole or avocado smush

2 large ripe avocados, with the flesh placed in a bowl and mashed with a fork

Juice of 1/2 to 1 fresh lime, depending on taste

kosher or sea salt to taste

freshly cracked black pepper

8 whole wheat or other type of tortillas

Directions

Heat the oven to 420 degrees F. and place the oven rack about 6 inches from the top. Drizzle about 1.5 to 2 Tablespoons of oil across the bottom of a sheet pan. (I only needed a quarter sheet pan this time. It should be large enough to hold all of the diced sweet potato in a single layer without crowding.)

Place the diced sweet potato on the pan and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the cinnamon and using your clean hands, mix together the sweet potato, oil and seasonings. Place in the oven and roast for 20 to 25 minutes. The sweet potato should be cooked, with some browning, but not dried out.

Meanwhile, place 1 Tablespoon of oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the onion and salt and sauté until the onion begins to soften and turn translucent. Add the remaining spices and mix through, blooming the spices, for about 30 seconds.

While the onion cooks, lightly mash the drained kidney beans. You don’t want a puree. Some beans can even be left whole. Add the beans, minced garlic, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, diced bell pepper and about 3/4 cup of water to the onion mixture. Stir well and allow to cook on simmer while the sweet potato roasts. This can be done ahead if you wish. Just gently heat it through when you are ready to assemble the quesadillas.

When you are ready to assemble, heat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a clean frying pan, place either a little neutral oil like Canola or spray with a cooking spray. Heat the pan and add the tortillas one at a time. Heat until both sides have become warm and speckled with brown spots. Turn once. Place the tortilla onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Spoon 1/4 of the bean mixture over one tortilla. Then place 1/4 of the sweet potato chunks on top of that and add your desired cheese. I tend to use a light hand with the cheese, but it’s personal preference. Place a second tortilla on the top of everything and gently press down with the flat of your hand. Drizzle lightly with EVOO.

After you make all of the tortillas, place the pan in the oven for about 8 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Carefully remove the tortilla to a cutting board and using a large knife, cut each tortilla into 4 pieces. Don’t worry if a little filling oozes out. Just shove it back in!

Serve with the guacamole and have a napkin on hand! Enjoy!

Roasted Rata-shuka

I’ve been leaning vegetarian for my dinners lately, mostly because they’re filling and I’m left with a feeling of “healthfulness.”  This week I decided to make a roasted ratatouille dish that I love, but modified it a bit so that it ended up being a mix between a Shakshuka recipe that I love and a roasted ratatouille recipe that I love.

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This tastes delicious in leftovers, as well, and whenever it needs a bit of pizzazz, I just add an egg on it.

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To be honest, I would probably add a fried egg to anything — to the point that I’m just waiting for someone to parody the excellent “Portlandia” episode of “Put a Bird on It” to just “Put an Egg on It.”

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This recipe with the roasted veggies and the egg make for a very hearty and rustic dinner. Serve with crusty bread (or not, tasted fine without it too!)

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika, smoked or sweet
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1, 28 oz box of diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon red wine or cider vinegar
  • 2-4 eggs
  • 4 bell peppers, red and yellow
  • 4 small zucchini, green and yellow
  • 4 long Asian eggplants, Japanese and Taiwanese
  • 12 cippolini onions
  • 6 large tomatoes, seeded and diced

Directions

  1. Turn oven on broil.  Place peppers on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil peppers 5 minutes per side until black and blistered.  Transfer peppers to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for a few minutes to allow steam to loosen skins. Remove skins by rubbing peppers with paper towels. Remove stem and seeds. Chop peppers and add to a large bowl.
  2. Turn oven down to 450 degrees F.
  3. Cut zucchini into thick rounds and toss with a good drizzling of oil on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, flipping halfway through, until golden, about 12 minutes. Repeat with eggplant and cippolini onions. Add both vegetables to the bowl with roasted peppers. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Warm a few tablespoons of oil in a sauté pan set over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until soft, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes.  Simmer vegetables until mixture has thickened and resembles sauce, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over bowl with peppers, zucchini, and eggplant. Toss gently to combine and check seasoning. Transfer to a warm serving bowl.
  5. In a wide skillet, add the spices and let them cook until fragrant.  Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, honey, and red wine vinegar and cook on low, stirring until the mixture resembles a thick paste.
  6. Poor the sauce over the bowl of roasted vegetables.
  7. Fry and egg and serve on top of the roasted vegetables.  Serve immediately!

Serves 4.

Adapted from the Gastronomer’s Guide and David Lebovitz.

Horta Salata: Fancy Salad

While I love eating kale prepared by someone else, the thought of prepping kale always made me sigh and then shrug and then pass in favor of arugula, spinach, or another green leafy plant to base my salads on.  Also because whenever I would discuss prepping kale with friends, it sounded so laborious: “you have to massage the kale and then let it rest.”  After a few of these conversations, I decided that any leaves that needed this much TLC was not worth working with in my kitchen.

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This weekend however, I was at a restaurant with Lisa that advertised “Tuscan Kale Salad” and I had to order it, and it was gobbled up very quickly by everyone at the table.  I also ranted about how hard it was to prepare kale given all the steps I described above, and Lisa reassured me that I really didn’t need to do all that.

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Re-inspired, and thinking that perhaps I shouldn’t let kale get the better of me, I decided to try a kale salad recipe that I had come across some time ago in a lifestyle magazine.

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While there were a lot of steps to making it, the end result was a very filling salad thanks to the pureed split peas, and I fell back in love with kale.

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dried yellow split peas
  • 2 tbsp minced onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/8 tsp saffron
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • salt
  • 7 tbsp fresh lemon juice, and zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch kale, stemmed and rinsed
  • 3 dill sprigs, stems removed
  • 2 tbsp thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 tbsp roasted walnuts
  • 6 Kalamata olives, tossed with paprika

Directions

  1. Add split peas to a small bowl and cover with cold water and soak for 5 minutes.  Drain and add to a small pot with 2 cups of water.  Bring to a simmer, skimming froth from the top.  Add onion, garlic, saffron, cayenne, and a pinch of salt and cook until soft, about 10 minutes, adding more water if necessary.  Drain and reserve cooking liquid.
  2. To a food processor, add cooked peas and blend, drizzling in 3 tbsp lemon juice, 2 tbsp olive oil and cooking liquid as needed until smooth and thick.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, remaining 4 tbsp lemon juice, a pinch of salt and a bit of pepper.  Continue whisking while drizzling in remaining 1/2 cup olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Spread the split pea puree on the bottom of a bowl.  Toss the kale, dill and onion together with the dressing and place on top of the puree.  Garnish with walnuts, olives, and lemon zest.

Serves 4.

Adapted from Shape magazine’s “Horta Salata from Zaytinya in Washington, D.C.”