I have to admit… the verdict is still out on whether or not these quesadillas need cheese or not. Yes, I realize that calling them quesadillas and not having cheese in them is rather, odd, but that’s often how things swing here in Eugene. There is a rather high number of cheeseless people here, who would love to be catered to with these wonderful queso-less-dillas I’m sure. I leave that option up to you, gentle reader.
Having a tub of this spread around makes for a quick bite to eat before heading out for your weekend adventures. Sweets and I took to the windy back farm roads on the bike this past holiday weekend, and these treats were the perfect quick bite before hitting the road. Full of flavor and a mild sweetness, this recipe is also a great base to work off of for future variations.
Black Bean Pumpkin Seed Quesadillas
inspired by a black bean cake recipe in the Artful Vegan cookbook
In a moderately warm cast iron skillet heat 2 cleaned (seeds and stems removed) dried california chilies, torn into pieces. Toast the chilie pieces lightly, being careful not to burn. This can be easier said than done, as the chilies themselves are already a dark color. I like to watch for their skin to wrinkle and just take them a bit farther. Remove chilies pieces to a small bowl and toss in the freezer to cool completely.
Toast 1/2 cup of pepitas, aka shelled pumpkin seeds, in the same warm skillet over low heat. The pepitas will pop and snap as they are toasted, bringing a nice auditory signal to the game of cooking. When pepitas are slightly browned, remove to a food processor bowl.
Saute 1/2 – 3/4 cup of sliced onion in 1 Tbs olive oil. When onion is translucent, add
- 2 cloves of crushed garlic
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
continue to cook briefly. Scrape out seasoned onions into the processor bowl of toasted pepitas.
Remove the toasted chilie pieces from the freezer and check to make sure they are not warm. Grind the cooled chilie pieces to a fine powder in a spice mill, or dedicated coffee grinder. Add this chilie powder to the food processor bowl of pepitas and onions. Also add:
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 Tbs mayonnaise
- 2 Tbs lime juice
- zest of one lime
- 2 tsp of vinegar (I used garlic flavored vinegar)
- 1 cup of drained cooked black beans
Pulse in the food processor till your spread reaches a desired consistancy for spreading. Scrape into a bowl and add one more cup of drained cooked black beans and stir to combine.
Over medium heat briefly warm one side of a small flour tortilla in a cast iron skillet. Flip the tortilla over and spread with 1 Tbs of your pepita spread. Quickly fold the tortilla in half, encasing the spread and toast each side of the folder tortilla till lightly brown and crispy. When toasted removed to a cutting board and cut into four wedges. Repeat with more flour tortillas. I like to serve these with a dollop of sour cream and often a bowl of salsa.
This recipe makes approximately over 2 cups of pumpkin seed spread, which can also be shaped and baked, or fried up like falafals.
Substitutions / Options:
- - to use fresh cooked black beans, cook up one cup of dried beans in enough water to just cover until meltingly soft.
- - corn kernals would fit in nicely with this spread too.
- - any type of toasted nut or seed can be substituted for the pepitas (pecans are extra special!).
- - if you choose to not grind up your own chilies, just substitute 1 Tbs of paprika and also add 1 tsp of traditional chilie powder.
- - switch cooked sweet potatoes or butternut squash for the black beans.
- - substitute hotter dried chiles for the California chilies. Pasillas will be my next choice.
- - and of course, cheese can be added on top of the spread when toasting the flour tortilla.