Saturday, May 5, 2012

Quick Vegan Quesadillas

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Here is one of my favorite Latin recipes. It comes together very quickly, and has room for a lot of variation. The meltable vegan cheeses that are out these days do beautifully in this recipe. I like to use just a light sprinkle; nutritionally vegan cheeses are more like a condiment than a protein source, and are best paired with high protein, low-fat ingredients like beans.
If you can't find vegan cheese, or don't want to use it, it's best to use a bean dip with a tangier flavor and loose, creamy texture, such as hummus, in order to better approximate the original mouthfeel.

Vegan quesadilla, filled with black bean dip, salsa, and vegan cheese


4-5 tortillas (depending on size)
About 2 cups (or 1 can ) bean dip of your choice--can be refried beans, hummus, spicy bean dip, etc.
1/4 - 1/2 cup salsa (preferably chunky or fresh cut such as pico de gallo, but others will do in a pinch)
Vegan cheese to taste, shredded or thinly sliced (optional)

 oil or cooking spray

Any other add-ins you would like, such as grilled or sauteed vegetables (bell peppers or onions would be particularly nice), mushrooms, olives, avocado slices, whole beans, potatoes, faux meats, etc.

Toppings for finished quesadillas, such as guacamole or vegan sour cream

Set out your filling ingredients, precooking or warming as needed (refried beans do better pre-warmed, hummus doesn't need it).

Soften your tortilla for about 30 seconds in the microwave (or oven, or dry skillet) until they are pliable.

Assemble your quesadillas. There are two basic methods: you can layer two tortillas one on top of the other with the fillings in between, or you can place the filling over half a tortilla and then fold it over into a half moon. They both work fine.  I think the half moon quesadillas are much easier to flip, but the layered version can take more filling.

Filled and ready to be folded
To assemble: spread a thin layer of bean dip over either half or all of your tortilla, depending on method. Using a slotted spoon so you don't get too much liquid, spoon some salsa evenly over the top. Sprinkle vegan cheese and/or any other filling ingredients over the top, and either fold the tortilla over or place a second tortilla on top.
Squish it very lightly to help it hold together.

Heat a frying pan to medium heat and oil or spray it. Just a teaspoon will do. Place a quesadila flat in the pan and let brown. Depending on your pan and stove this may take anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes. Flip the quesadilla and brown the other side.

Remove it from the pan and cook your remaining quesadillas. You can do two at a time if they're the half moon kind.

Quesadilla, half-moon style

Cut quesadillas into wedges and top with guacamole or vegan sour cream. Enjoy!

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