Roasted Vegetable Quesadillas


I love Tex-Mex food. I'm not quite sure why. I think there may be a few reasons. I think the primary reason is that I love most of the common ingredients found in Tex-Mex cuisine - cheese, beans, and roasted vegetables. Then there's the strong commonality of spices between Tex-Mex cuisine and Indian food (especially the cumin and cilantro). Regardless, one of our family favorites is our Roasted Vegetable Quesadillas.

The Y loves the quesadillas, and she really loves vegetables. If you ask her what her favorite foods are, she'll always include peapods, "kacha" (which means "raw") broccoli, and "kacha gobi" (which is raw cauliflower). She will literally eat a plate full of raw broccoli and cauliflower. She even gets excited when I'm chopping red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, and she'll munch on them before they're cooked. So many of my friends are shocked with they see how much the Y loves vegetables, and they often tell me stories about how their children refuse vegetables. I guess that happens with some children - they just don't like them. But, I also wonder how much of it has to do with what the children eat at home and, more importantly, what they see their parents eating. I'm nearly a vegetarian. I rarely eat red meat (maybe three times a year, if that), and when I do eat chicken or fish, it's probably twice  month at the most. The Y's papa, on the other hand, is a "hard core" carnivore. Meaning, he loves, loves meat. The Y eats every meal with me, thus she sees how much I love vegetables. And even when I cook meat for the Y's papa, there's always a vegetarian alternative (which I eat). Since the Y was born, she's been surrounded by so many vegetables, and I really think that's why she loves them so much. Regardless of the "why" she loves vegetables, I'm just so happy that she does. I'm hoping it will influence her eating habits throughout her life.

Evidence of the Y's desire to eat veggies. Here's her booster chair tray at the beginning of dinner:


Here it is 15 minutes later:


On with the recipe for the Roasted Vegetable Quesadillas. I rarely use specialty ingredients in my cooking, but I think the single ingredient that makes these quesadillas so savory and unique is the use of smoked Spanish paprika. It brings a smokiness and depth of flavor to the vegetables after roasting them for a mere 25 minutes. You can find it at Whole Foods and on the internet.


Here's the recipe:
3 bell peppers (red, yellow, and orange are our favorite. We don't like the green ones because they have a much harsher flavor)
2-3 medium sized zuchinnis
2 medium sized summer squash
1 8oz container of mushrooms
1 medium red onion

(honestly you can put any vegetables you like, sometimes we add jicama or sauted spinach)
10 whole wheat flour tortillas
Shredded cheese (we like the cheddar-jack cheese combo)

For the black beans:
2 8oz. cans of black beans
1/4 red onion, chopped fine
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon of corriander
2 tablespoons lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste

For the guacamole:
2 avacados
1 small clove garlic - minced
1/4 of red onion chopped, fine
1 tablespoon tomato chopped fine
lime juice to taste
salt and pepper to taste

For the Spice Rub:
2 teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika
1 teaspoon regular paprika
3 teaspoons chili powder (NOT cayenne pepper, rather the spice mix with cumin, paprika, etc.)
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon of dried oregano


1 - Preheat the oven to 425 F. Chop the vegetables so they are bite-sized, and try to make them uniform in size so they will cook at the same rate.Mix the spice rub in a small bowl. Place all the vegetables on a baking sheet. Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil, and sprinkle spice mix and salt over vegetables. Mix the vegetables to coat all of them with the spice rub. Place in the oven to bake for 25 minutes.


2 - While the vegetables roast, make the black beans and saute the mushrooms (and spinach if you are using it). For the black beans, saute the onions in a bit of olive oil and saute until they are soft but not brown. Add the cumin and corriander, and cook until you can smell the spices (about 30 seconds). Drain and rinse the beans.  Add them to the pan and mix. Since the beans are already cooked, simply cook them long enough to absorb the flavor of the spices and onion. After about 3-4 minutes, add the lime juice. Mix and cook for a minute or two longer. Add salt and pepper to taste. For the mushrooms, slice them and saute them in a pan with olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set the beans and mushrooms aside while the vegetables finish roasting.


3 - Once the vegetables come out of the oven, make the guacamole. Mix all the guacamole ingredients, and taste to make sure there's an adequate amount of lime juice and salt and pepper.

4 - Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Do not put oil in the pan and start assembling the quesadillas. First place the tortilla in the pan, then add shredded cheese to half of the tortilla. Next layer on the roasted vegetables, mushrooms, and black beans. Top with more cheese and fold the tortilla in half. (I like placing the cheese right next to the tortilla because the melted cheese acts as a glue to hold the quesadilla together). Once the tortilla is brown and crisp on one side, flip it over, and allow the other side brown. Remove from heat, and place on a cutting board. Cut the quesadilla into thirds. Serve with sour cream, guacamole, salsa, and chips.

*If you want to add chicken to the quesadillas, an hour before cooking, marinate 3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts in the juice of one lime and olive oil. Heat up a grill pan. Before placing the chicken on the grill, sprinkle it with salt and some of the spice mixture for the vegetables. Grill for about 7 minutes per side (the cooking time depends on the temperature of the pan and the thickness of the chicken). Once the meat has been removed from the grill and rested for 10 minutes, slice into bite-size pieces, and add into the quesadilla.


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