When I first started to incorporate more plant-based meals into my diet, Mexican-style food became one of my favorite go-to meal inspirations. There are endless things you can do with beans, veggies, spices, and a tortilla of some sort.
I’ve always liked quesadillas in particular. I like the way I can display the crispy-yet-gooey wedges neatly on my plate, slather them with a yummy topping for extra goodness and eat them with my hand. They also make easy-to-transport leftovers.
Of course, with quesadillas, the million-dollar question is: can you have a quesadilla without cheese? According to Wikipedia, you can. That was all the justification I needed to share my black bean and mushroom quesadillas with the world. The mashed black beans provide the glue for the tortillas to stick together relatively well.
Rounded out with guacamole, roasted acorn squash, spinach salad, and toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas), this meal has it all, including an abundance of different flavors and textures to keep your taste buds firing.
Since there are various pieces to this meal, you’re going to need to multi-task. I’ve written the instructions below in the order I use when I make the entire meal you see in the photo above, in hopes that it will be helpful. (If you find it too confusing the way I’ve written it, please let me know.) By the way, you can always substitute your own side dishes to eat alongside the quesadillas, but I’m all about the one-stop-shop here.
Note: This meal serves four. However, if you plan to serve two and use the rest as leftovers, you could halve the guacamole recipe (i.e., use only one avocado) and make more guacamole the next day (or simply serve with avocado slices), as guacamole is best when it’s made fresh.
Serves 4. Time: 50 minutes
Ingredients for acorn squash:
1 medium-to-large acorn squash
1 t olive oil
Ingredients for quesadillas:
4 large (burrito-size) whole grain or sprouted grain tortillas
2 t olive oil
1 sm onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced small
4 oz baby bella or cremini mushrooms, sliced (you could also use regular white mushrooms, though they’re not as hearty)
1/2 t chili powder
1/4 t salt
1 14-oz can (about 1 3/4 cups) black beans
Ingredients for spinach salad with lemon-cumin dressing:
1 package baby spinach (5-6 oz)
2 T lemon juice (juice of 1/2 lemon)
1 t cumin
1/3 c pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
pinch salt & pinch freshly grated pepper
Ingredients for guacamole:
1 T lemon juice (juice of 1/4 lemon)
1/2 t hot sauce (optional)
1. START THE ACORN SQUASH. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Brush the cut surface with olive oil. Place the squash cut-side down on a piece of aluminum foil on a baking sheet. Place in the oven and cook for 40-45 minutes or until you can easily poke a fork in it.
2. START THE QUESADILLA FILLING. Place the olive oil in a large fry pan and heat over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and jalapeno and cook for about 6-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft.
3. While the onion mixture is cooking, MASH THE BEANS. Rinse and drain the black beans. Put them in a medium bowl with a little water to moisten them (start with a couple tablespoons and add more as needed) and mash with a potato masher or the bottom of a glass. The beans should be nice and gooey, but they don’t have to be perfectly mashed.
4. CONTINUE THE QUESADILLA FILLING. Add the chopped mushrooms, chili powder, and salt to the onion mixture. Cook for an additional 10 minutes until mushrooms are tender, stirring occasionally.
5. While the onion-mushroom mixture is cooking, PREPARE THE GUACAMOLE AND THE SALAD as per below.
Prepare the guacamole: Slice the avocados in half and scoop out the filling into a bowl. Add the lemon juice and hot sauce. Mash until you reach a texture you like.
Assemble the salad: Wash the spinach (even if it says pre-washed or triple-washed, I recommend washing it anyway) and put it in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, combine the 2 T lemon juice, 1 t ground cumin, salt, and pepper. Mix, pour over spinach, and toss.
Toast the pumpkin seeds (pepitas): Place the pumpkin seeds on a dry baking sheet and place in the oven along with the squash. Remove after 3-5 minutes (check frequently – you want them toasty and fragrant, but not burnt) and sprinkle half of them over the salad.
6. FINISH THE QUESADILLA FILLING. When the mushrooms are cooked, add the bean mixture. Stir to incorporate, adding water if necessary to keep things somewhat moist and gooey. Heat 2 more minutes, then turn off the fire.
7. ASSEMBLE THE QUESADILLAS. Preheat a separate, dry fry pan (preferably one with angled, as opposed to straight, edges) over medium heat. Place one tortilla on the fry pan and spread half the bean mixture on it, leaving at least 1 inch around the edges. Top with another tortilla. After about 2 minutes, flip using a large spatula and lots of loving care. After about 2 more minutes, remove from heat and repeat the process to make another quesadilla.
8. TAKE THE ACORN SQUASH OUT OF THE OVEN, if you haven’t already.
9. TO SERVE: Cut the two quesadillas into wedges, and cut each half of the squash in half again. Put 1/2 a quesadilla, one piece of the squash (it’s OK to keep the skin on, but don’t try to eat the skin), and a handful of salad on each plate. Add a good-sized dollop of guacamole in the center and sprinkle the plate with additional pepitas.
Serve with extra hot sauce if you like.
© 2011 BistroKatie.com
Enjoy, and let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.