We can think of quesadillas as a Mexican/Southwestern grilled cheese sandwich. In our case, of course, that would mean vegan cheese. Made with flour tortillas, they’re less bread-y than their sandwich counterparts. And you can slip all manner of veggies into them. Quesadillas can be the centerpiece of a meal if they’re loaded up, or more lightly filled, they go well with soups and salads.
Quesadillas can be cooked on a griddle, if you’re only making one or two. But when you’re feeding a larger family or a small crowd, baking a few at once quickly in a hot oven is more efficient. Here are the basic steps to making easy vegan quesadillas, with many variations.
1. Choose the tortillas you’d like to use. Flour tortillas are most customary for quesadillas; try to choose a whole-grain variety without questionable additives. 8-inch tortillas work well. If you need a gluten-free option, corn tortillas are fine, though they make smaller quesadillas; but then, you can make more if need be.
2. Choose 2 or 3 additional ingredients in addition to cheese for filling quesadillas. Here are some suggestions:
- Cooked or canned (drained and rinsed) pinto, pink, red, or black beans
- Lightly cooked fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
- Finely diced or thinly sliced tomato
- Peeled and thinly sliced avocado
- Sliced black olives
- Thinly sliced green or red bell peppers
- Green chilies (use mild or hot canned diced chilies
or fresh chili peppers of your choice, seeded and minced)
- Siced and wilted brown mushrooms
- Wilted spinach or chard
- Thinly sliced baked sweet potato
- Fresh tomato salsa (page 000) or your favorite prepared variety
(this is optional; you can pass salsa around when serving)
- Salsa verde (tomatillo salsa) is also delicious with quesadillas
3. If baking in the oven, preheat to 400º F. Arrange four or six 8-inch flour tortillas on two baking sheets. If cooking on a griddle, skip this step, of course.
4. Sprinkle a modest amount of grated cheese over each tortilla — 1/4 to 1/2 cup for the entire quesadilla is about right, depending on the size of the tortillas, so start by using half of that amount for the bottom. Arrange any other ingredients (see suggestions following) over the cheese.
Sprinkle with a little more cheese, and cover with another tortilla. By the way, any flavor of vegan cheese works — cheddar- or mozzarella-style are good; but a spicy variety like pepperjack is even better.
5. If using the oven, bake until the tortillas turn golden and crisp on both sides, about 12 to 15 minutes, turning once. If cooking on a griddle on the stovetop, set it over medium-high heat, then cook quesadillas on both sides until crisp and golden. This will take about 5 to 8 minutes per side depending on the heat level of your griddle. If everything is prepped, you can even assemble the quesadilla right on the griddle.
6. To serve, cut each quesadilla into 4 equal wedges. Allow 2 to 4 wedges per serving, depending on what else is being served. Pass around salsa for serving, whether or not you used some inside the quesadilla.
Here are some of my favorite combinations for quesadillas. Assume that you’re also including vegan cheese, and serving with salsa:
- Avocado and sweet potato
- Zucchini or summer squash, sweet potato, and corn
- Black or pinto beans, corn, and red bell pepper (shown here)
- Wilted spinach and mushrooms
- Arugula, tomato, and avocado
Recipe is adapted from Plant Power by Nava Atlas. Photos by Hannah Kaminsky, BittersweetBlog.com