Sunday, January 22, 2012

Super Easy Meatless Monday: Black Bean & Green Chile Quesadillas with Homemade Guacamole

What's not to love about gooey cheese, a crispy tortilla, and yummy sides to scoop and slather?  The quesadilla is as versatile as it is simple and makes a filling and scrumptiously simple meatless meal.  After all, let's face it, making the meat to wedge into the quesadilla has always been a pain in the rear anyways. Best news: with the right fillings and fixings, you're not going to miss it.

When easing the fam into a night of culinary meatlessness, a little choice can go a long way. And this is precisely why a quesadilla fits the bill. Although this recipe features cheddar cheese, black beans, and green chiles, there's a lot of room to experiment here with all sorts of fun cheese options (imagine what you could do with a brie quesadilla. . .I feel a future post coming on for that one), different beans (pinto are another family favorite, especially when dusted with cumin), and diced veggies (I'm a big fan of any sort of pepper, especially those pre-grilled frozen ones from Trader Joe's which are super easy and taste like they are hot off the fire).  

And then there's the salsa.  I went with a simple jarred variety here but if you're feeling ambitious, a chopped salsa featuring a favorite fruit could be a fun way to add some excitement, like this seasonal apple salsa recipe for example.  In my world, however, homemade guacamole is the only way to go.  There is nothing quite like the flavor combo produced by fresh avocado, garlic, and cilantro.  I can't write about it without salivating, a condition I call the pavlov-ocado effect. 

Just had to take a picture of this. . .I love avocado.
Would love to hear how you gussy up your quesadillas.  What are your favorite meatless fixings and fillings for homemade quesadillas?

Here's the recipe for what I did but keep in mind that personalizing is part of the fun:

For the quesadillas:
  • 8 whole wheat tortillas (will make 4 quesadillas)
  • grated cheddar cheese 
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans
  • 1 can green chiles
  • 2 Tbsp little EVOO or EVOO spray
For the fixings:
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/4 onion diced
  • 1 small clove of garlic, squashed and diced 
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • chili powder
  • smoked paprika (optional)
  • salt and pepper
  • your favorite salsa
  • sour cream
  1. Heat a skillet to medium high heat.
  2. Lay out four tortillas and cover with cheese and fillings (in this case beans and green chiles), making sure to cover with another layer of cheese to stick to the top.  (This is a great time to get a kid helper involved.) Cover with the left-over tortillas to make your little quesadilla sandwich.
  3. Kid helper tested.
  4. Once the skillet is hot, coat with a thin spray of EVOO.  If you don't have EVOO, pour the 2 Tbsp into a small bowl and use a brush or paper towel to dip and spread across the pan.  Cook one quesadilla at a time, flipping when brown and crispy on the down side.  
  5. I like my quesadillas best when they are crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside, a feat which can be tricky to accomplish in a home kitchen.  Check out this tipsy to find out how to achieve the desired effect simply and effectively with something you're sure to have handy.
    1. For the guacamole, slice the avocado in half, remove the pit, and then make a criss cross cut pattern through the flesh.  This should allow you to scoop out asymmetrical cubes of avocado, which is just right if you like your guacamole with nice chunks of avocado.  
    2. Add the cilantro, diced onion, and garlic and mash together (leaving chunks if so desired).
    3. Add salt, pepper, and chili powder to your liking.  At this point, I also like to add a dash of smoked paprika for the smokiness it adds to the guac.  
    4. Slice the quesadillas pizza style and serve with the guacamole, salsa, and sour cream.
    5. Enjoy!
    Kiddo plate. . .minus chiles and just chunks of avocado for my kiddo.
    Grown-up version
    Hope you love it!  Let me know if you try it and how you switch it up.

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