As some of you know, I’ve been eagerly awaiting to receive a cookbook I ordered to refresh my roster of veggie recipes. It finally arrived and I love it! Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes by Yotam Ottolenghi, a well-known London chef, is chocked full of “non-vegetarian”, or non-boring!, vegetable recipes. If you’re interested, read the review in the Globe and Mail. I got my copy from Chapters for $28, taxes and delivery included. That’s less than half the $60 a fancy bookstore near home was asking for it!
The first Ottolenghi recipe I tried was quesadillas. Just in time for Cinco de Mayo! This version is filled with a homemade black bean paste and salsa, as well as sharp cheddar cheese. If I make this recipe again, I will definitely tweak the assembly. The various components in the quesadillas are delicious but I found the final result to be sloppy… Next time, I will only stuff the quesadillas with the bean paste and cheese, and serve the salsa and sour cream on the side. I’m not a huge fan of warm tomatoes anyways.
Just a note – I decided to make homemade tortillas and I highly recommend it if you have the inkling and the little extra time. The quesadilla recipe is simple and I think going homemade all the way really contributes to the experience. I used a recipe from the Homesick Texan blog. It’s a Tex-Mex white flour version of tortillas, which are traditionally made with corn flour. Mine turned out puffier and saltier than most tortillas I’ve tasted before but I really liked them. They reminded me of naan bread, which I love.
Recipe for 8 quesadillas (4 portions)
Black Bean Paste
1 ½ cups of cooked black beans (canned are fine)
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 bunch of cilantro (leaves and stalks, about 1 oz.) chopped
Juice of 1 lime
¼ tsp salt
Place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse into a paste.
The taste of the bean paste was above my expectations. I’m not a huge fan of legumes, but the spices add a kick, the cilantro adds freshness and the lime sharpens everything up.
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
½ tbsp white wine vinegar
3 green onions, thinly sliced
5 medium tomatoes, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 mild fresh red chile, finely diced (I substituted with jalapeno and it worked fine)
1 bunch of cilantro (leaves and stalks, about another 1 oz.), finely-chopped
¾ tsp salt
Juice of ½ lime
2 ripe medium avocados, diced
Soak the red onion in a large bowl in the vinegar for a few minutes. Then add all of the other ingredients and stir. Note: be careful not to stir too much or everything will “mush together”.
Extra ingredients to assemble the quesadillas
¾ cup sour cream
Grated sharp cheddar cheese
6 tbsp drained and roughly chopped pickled jalapenos (I found them with the Mexican food at the supermarket)
Heat up the BBQ or frying pan (preferably ridged).
Spread about 2 tbsp of bean paste on each tortilla. Over half of the bean paste, spread one spoonful of sour cream and sprinkle cheese and pickled jalapenos. If you decide to respect the original recipe and want the salsa inside the quesadilla, add a tablespoon of it as well. Otherwise, keep it on the side for now.
Fold the tortilla in half and heat on each side for 2 or 3 minutes. The filling should be warm and the tortilla browned or charred (on the BBQ).
Cut each tortilla in half and serve with a side of salsa.
I have a feeling there will be many more Ottolenghi trials on this blog. Stay tuned!