Vitamin Week: abc quesadillas
We’ve got lots of new recipes coming at you soon (like, later this week!) To tide you over I’m bringing back an oldie but goodie. Laura and I are both cultivating an obsession with avoiding the flu. The flu bug that is going around this year is a nasty one and as well as booking an appointment to get us all the flu shot, making everyone wash their hands like they’re Howard Hughes, I’m trying to add as many immunity boosters to our diet as possible. This recipe is a winner because it’s vitamin-packed. I wrote about it below but also wanted to highlight the importance of bioflavenoids. Come again? They’re phytonutrients that are particularly good at fighting environmental pollutants. Getting a wide variety of fruits and vegetables will help you and your crew get the benefits of bioflavenoids. Plus, anything in a quesadilla is just easier to get in a kid, don’t you find? – C.M.
Esme has become outdoors averse. Being allowed to lounge around in her p.j.s all day is her three-year old’s idea of heaven. But there’s something slightly creepy about this lounge lizard leaning she’s developed.
Getting her out to do something as boring as grocery shopping is a hard sell most weekends. But Toronto was hit with a snow-globe pretty snow storm this Saturday morning and even our own little Brian Wilson wanted to get out into it. The promise of a few runs down the steep banks of Christie Pitts on the way to pick up the weekly supplies did the trick. The park was jammed with families racing down the fresh snow, screaming and whooping as they flew.
For dinner that night I made these quesadillas. Healthy as hell, they do present their own kind of compromise. They’re packed with vitamin-rich ingredients: black beans, spinach and tomatoes (let’s call them the grocery store) sandwiched by cheese and tortillas (think of them as the sled ride). A serving of these quesadillas delivers a solid dose of vitamins A, C and B plus good shot of fibre. And they’re delish. Big hit, people. Bit hit.
Black Bean Spinach Quesadillas
1 onion, chopped on the fine side
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 15 ounce tin of black beans
1 small glug of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 bunch of fresh baby spinach
1 medium tomato diced
1 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
4 flax tortillas
Dump the black beans into a sieve and rinse well.
Heat a small glug of olive oil in a sautee pan. Toss in onion and garlic and sautee until they are soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the spices and stir. Add the beans.
Use the back of a fork or a potato masher to mash up the beans. You’re not making a paste here, just mashing at least half the beans. Cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently so that they don’t stick to the pan. Take off the heat and put aside.
Wash spinach well and trim the stalks. Chop the spinach very coarsely. Just a few chops to help it break down more quickly. In a new pan (or the one you just used for the beans, wiped out) drizzle the tiniest bit of oil and bring to a medium heat. Add spinach and stir. It will start to wilt immediately. Allow it to get quite soft, 3 to 5 minutes at the most. Remove from heat. As you take the spinach out of the pan, press it against the edge to release the water. You’ll have very soggy quesadillas if you don’t!
Assemble all your ingredients: beans, spinach, tomatoes, cheese, tortillas. In a clean pan, drizzle another tiny bit of oil and bring to medium-high heat. You’re really just toasting the tortilla and melting the cheese so this goes quickly. Place down one tortilla and spread half the beans, then half the spinach, half the tomatoes and half the cheese. Place another tortilla on top.
Press something down on top to flatten the quesadilla. I use a small cast iron skillet but I’ve also used a small plate with a can of chick peas on top of that. When the bottom of the tortilla is brown – maybe 3 or 4 minutes – carefully flip the tortilla over and press the other side. I use a spatula underneath and lightly hold the top as long as I can while flipping. Julia Child has something clever to say about courage in these moments and, as always, she’s right.
Repeat with the rest of your ingredients to make two quesadillas. Place the cooked quesadillas on a cutting board and cut them – pizza style – into 6 or 8 pieces. You could serve these with sour cream, yogurt and salsa. But Esme is also sauce averse. One step at a time, people….
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