Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quesadillas

Updated: Jan 10

Having seen several versions of this on the internet, I decided it was high time to make my own! Finding a package of whole wheat tortillas in the freezer helped to motivate me. The beauty of this quesadilla is in the ability to pop different ingredients in/out, which makes best use of what you have on hand at the moment!




The whole notion of the Quesadilla is brilliant. Toss ingredients in-between a folded over tortilla (or similar 'wrapper'), grill and eat. Although the idea may go back to the Aztecs, who would stuff corn tortillas with squash and pumpkin, what we recognize today as a Quesadilla goes back to Colonial Mexico.




The Quesadilla, now popular in Mexican restaurants everywhere, has regional differences, as you might expect. In central and southern Mexico, it's based on Queso Oaxaca - the stringy cheese of that region. Other ingredients can be included, but the cheese is the star. Oddly, in Mexico City, you have to actually request the cheese be added.


In northern Mexico, wheat tortillas take the place of the more traditional corn (masa) tortillas of the south. But, as in the south, cheese takes the lead. All quesadillas are traditionally cooked on a Comal griddle. You don't need a Comal, since a good non-stick skillet will do nicely.





As I said earlier, you can nip and tuck, bob and weave with Quesadillas. Don't have a sweet potato? Fine. Use Butternut Squash. Or, Acorn Squash. Even plain old mashed potato would do. Don't have black beans? Use Pintos, small red beans, Kidney beans or whatever. The black simply makes a nice contrast with the vibrant orange of the sweet potato. And, while I'm talking sweet potato, I'm thinking of the Jewel sweet potato for its' color. You can also use a Garnet yam, which really isn't a yam, but mislabeled. Yams are rarely found in the United States, being native to West Africa. Read my post on West African Collards and you'll understand.





I prefer to steam my sweet potato. Baking is nice, if you're planning on baking several, but heating up an oven for just one or two seems unnecessary. I steamed this to tender perfection in just about five minutes. It takes longer than that just to pre-heat an oven.




Then, just mash it up. Don't be fussy. Leaving a few chunky bits is fine. And, you might have noticed that I left the skin on. I simply scrubbed the skin and sliced.




Next, assemble your fillings. As I said, beans? Your choice. Be sure, however, to rinse and drain canned beans thoroughly.


The greens? That's a bit of chopped frozen Kale and Spinach. I keep bags of frozen greens in my freezer all the time. Dip in, grab what you need. In fact, today, I bought fresh bunches of beets ... tops on. I cut the tops off, rinsed and dried in a salad spinner, and bagged 'em for the freezer. Get them as dry as you can, and squeeze as much air out as you can. I use my Foodsaver vacuum sealer, which is just perfect for this. It prevents freezer burn.





But, I digress. Let's get back to filling your quesadillas. Spread that wonderful baked sweet potato over the tortilla. Scatter the black beans, freshly chopped sweet pepper (it cooks during the grilling), the thawed, drained 'greens' of your choice, and a sprinkle of vegan Parmesan. The Parmesan is from the bins at Sprouts Farmers Markets, and is simply ground almonds and nutritional yeast. But, dang it tastes just like the real deal. I'll probably make this myself soon, and will let you in on the recipe/technique.


Just add the goodies on half of the quesadilla, so that when you fold over, it doesn't all end up in a big messy pile. I press 'em down a bit once folded.




Lightly grill them on a non-stick griddle - without oil, of course.



Serve with a bit of your favorite Salsa, some 'crema' (which is just my vegan, no-oil mayonnaise.) and sliced radishes.


And, before you dive into the sweet potato version:

Yesterday, I harvested about 24 Acorn squash from my Pollinator Garden (and the squash vines were volunteers!).



What to do with so many squash? Well, bake it (or use the Instant Pot!), mash it and use it in .... you guessed it, a Quesadilla, with more black beans and some sautéed zucchini, red bell pepper and onion. BAM!





These were so good with some steamed broccoli spears, sliced radishes and a generous slather of rich, red enchilada sauce.



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