When I first started dating my husband he pretended he had the desire to learn to cook, so that first Christmas I got him the Student’s Vegetarian Cookbook. All of the recipes are budget-conscious, have only a handful of ingredients and are easy to make. It’s a great, simple cookbook for both those just starting to cook or just starting to eat vegetarian.
I had him pick what he wanted to learn how to make first and he chose a simple black bean and sweet potato quesadilla recipe. Well, he opted to paint his daughter’s room during our “class” but popped out every now and again to check the status and pretend to be absorbing my instruction. Six years later, I’m still the one making the quesadillas, but that’s OK. I made some tonight inspired by that first simple recipe. Still delicious after all these years.
• 1 14.5 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
• 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and grated
• 1/2 med. yellow onion, diced
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 1 1/2 tsp. cumin
• 1 tsp. coriander
• 1 tsp. chili powder
• salt and pepper to taste
• 1-2 handfuls fresh spinach
• your cheese of choice (I went with Daiya cheddar vegan cheese)
• olive or other oil
1. Dice, chop, etc. all vegetables as noted above. Feel free to add more or less of any given ingredient. For the sweet potato, use a box grater or the grater plate on your food processor. I finally got to use the grater on my new Magimix three-bowl food processor. Worked great and took about 5 seconds.
2. Add a small amount of oil to a saute pan (1 Tbsp. should do it). Saute onion until beginning to soften, then add garlic and cook for about one minute. This would be a good time to toss in some minced jalapeno or other hot peppers if you’re into that kind of thing.
3. Add grated sweet potatoes and saute until soft (you can always smell when they’re done too — when it starts to smell like sweet potato fries, you’re good!). Add spices and spinach and cook until spinach is wilted.
4. Add beans and lightly mash with a potato masher or fork. This isn’t a must, but if you mash them they help form the glue that keeps the two sides of the quesadilla together/keep the ingredients inside the quesadilla AND it can be a vehicle to sneak other veggies in there. Oh — and feel free to use whatever peans you have on hand — black bean, pinto, white beans, you name it.
The more they’re all mashed together, the less the little ones in your life will take note of all the goodness they’re ingesting. I stopped here tonight, but you could finely dice just about anything and include it. If you’re trying to sneak things, you could use cauliflower, which smushes up really well with other things.
5. When it’s all cooked up to your liking, heat a griddle pan or another large sauté pan over medium heat (or if you’ve only got one pan, just remove the contents to a bowl and use the same one). You can spray the pan with an olive oil mister or something. but it’s not technically necessary. Then, build your quesadilla.
I lay one large flour tortilla down and put a small sprinkle of cheese down (again — more glue). Put a layer of filling from the other pan. I try to spread it out evenly and get pretty close to the edge. I then top with a good amount of cheese and another tortilla.
6. Let it sit until the bottom starts to brown. Using a large spatula, quickly flip over. If you’ve mashed the beans, etc., not too much stuff should fly out mid-flip. If you’ve got whole beans in there, beware!
7. Continue to cook until the cheese is all melty and the bottom tortilla starts to brown and get a little crispy. Remove onto a cutting board and cut into four wedges (I prefer using a pizza cutter).
8. Serve with salsa, hot sauce, guacamole or sour cream (I went with Toffutti Sour Supreme vegan sour cream tonight and Newman’s Own Medium Roasted Garlic Salsa. Delish! These store really well in the refrigerator and can easily heat up again in the microwave or on the stove top. You can even send them with the kids to school!