Black Bean Quesadilla Recipe


“I don’t believe in low-fat cooking.”  Nigella Lawson

Homemade Black Bean Quesadillas (photo by MJ Byers)

Dish:   Black Beans Quesadillas

Contrary to popular belief, I do cook from time to time. This used to be a much more frequent occurrence back when I had decent sized kitchens.  Now – with my Manhattan micro-canteen – it’s a bit harder to get inspired to create the culinary magic.  Trying to get better about this but I do manage to put together a few standbys on a regular basis.

One of these is black bean quesadillas.  I can hear you asking, “Do I really need a recipe for quesadillas? They’re so simple!”  Well, you may not.  But I am constantly amazed at how many kitchen bunglers I meet out in the world, so this is a pretty easy, very tasty and reasonably healthy – depending on your ability to contain yourself with cheese – dish containing black beans (excellent source of low-fat protein and fiber), a tortilla (good carbs, if you pick the whole wheat variety with no trans fats), low-fat cheese (if you’re being good) and, for an extra kick, jalapenos (if you’re down with the spicy).

How Do I Make This:  To yield four servings, you’ll need the following:  one 24-ounce can of black beans, 1 cup grated cheese of your choice (if you want to go skinny, try low-fat Monterey Jack; I personally like to blend a variety of cheeses, such as Swiss, parmesan reggiano and sometimes a bit of blue to kick the flavor up a notch – as you can see, low fat is not exactly what I typically go for when I cook), 8 small tortillas, olive oil, jalapenos (optional for a spicy hit).

Rinse and drain the beans, then divide in half.  Mash one half until smooth, then mixing with the whole beans.  Add a bit of salt and pepper and Tabasco sauce (again, only if you like spicy).

Now, there are a couple of ways you can approach building and cooking the quesadillas:

Option 1:  Spread equal parts beans and cheese on a tortilla, adding jalapenos to taste.  Place a second tortilla on top of the filling.  Heat about 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large non-stick pan, using medium-high heat.  Press down with a spatula to close the quesadillas, and cook 2-4 minutes per side (try to cook two at a time if you have the room in your pan).  You’re basically going for the cheese melting completely and a tiny bit of browning of the tortilla.  Slice & serve.

Option 2:  This one is my preferred option, but you’ll need a Panini maker or a George Foreman grill.  Spread equal parts beans and cheese (adding jalapenos to taste) on one-half of the tortilla, then fold the over half over to make a little quesadilla envelope.  Brush a bit of olive or canola oil on your grill then add the quesadillas (I can only make one at a time this way as my George Foreman grill is small, so it takes a bit longer to make all four servings – I generally only make about half this recipe as there are only two in my household).  Close the grill top, cooking each quesadilla for roughly 2-4 minutes.   You’re going for completely melted cheese and a few nice grill marks on the tortilla.  Slice & serve.

You might consider serving with a bit of pico de gallo on the side or on top for a nicer presentation and a bit of extra flavor.  Bon appétit!

Expensive vs. Cheap:  Pretty cheap – just the cost of tortillas, beans, cheese and peppers.

Healthy vs. Tasty:  Good balance if you go the low-fat cheese route.  Adding the spicy notes will make this option much more palatable.

Fat/Calorie Worthy:  Yes, especially if you go with the low-fat cheese.

Preparation Time/Ease :  Lickety split – the whole thing takes 20 minutes tops.

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