Easy Vegetarian Quesadillas are a quick, nourishing and satisfying meal that can be made with food staples in minutes. Thus, they are a great alternative to take out on busy nights or when you haven’t ventured to the supermarket in a while. This recipe is vegetarian. However, if you’ve got leftover shredded chicken or mince, you can add it.
A quesadilla is a simple-to-construct Mexican dish consisting of a flat tortilla filled with cheese and sometimes meats, beans and spices. It is cooked on a griddle, a flat cooking surface, like a flat grill.
However, I’ve had success making quesadillas in a standard frying pan. So, lack of equipment need not stop you from enjoying them!
Quesadillas really are the Mexican equivalent of a grilled-cheese; and are pretty much just as easy to make.
They can be made with some basic food staples that most of us already have in our pantries and fridges.
Choosing your tortillas
Traditionally, corn tortillas are used to make quesadillas. However, they can be made with flour tortillas, including wholegrain tortillas or wraps—really any flatbread you like or have stashed away in your pantry.
Corn tortillas are often gluten-free, but check the packaging to be sure. Alternatively, if you’re feeling particularly industrious, you may like to make your own with corn (maze) flour, chickpea flour or other gluten-free flour.
Two tortillas or one?
A quesadilla can be made with two tortillas with a layer of cheese and other goodies between them or by folding a single tortilla in half to create a moon shape. You can make them either way. The single tortilla can be easier to handle in a frying pan and is the perfect size for one served alongside roast vegetables, salad, salsa or guacamole.
Choosing your filling
1) Choose your cheese, or not
The most common filling for a quesadilla is grated cheese. Oaxaca is the stringy cheese that is used traditionally. However, you can substitute it with any cheese, particularly those that are stringy, like Italian mozzarella.
However, I often choose a mild cheddar cheese because I most frequently have it in my fridge, and it’s a flavour I love.
Another alternative is goat cheese. Or you could go outside the boundaries and try something like blue vein cheese, like this recipe for Chicken Quesadillas with Blue Cheese and Caramelized Onions.
Alternatively, you could omit the cheese altogether if you are vegan or have a dairy allergy or intolerance. You can try substituting cheese with potato, tofu, or other vegetables.
2) Choose your accompanying fillings
Traditionally, beans and meat accompany the cheese in quesadillas. However, there is no limit to fillings—except your imagination or what you’ve got in your fridge or pantry at this moment. Popular fillings are:
- black or kidney beans
- red onion
- shredded chicken
- other cooked meat
- grated or spiralised courgette/zucchini or carrot
- scrambled eggs
- corn (frozen or fresh)
- cherry tomato and capsicum
Whatever fillings you choose, ensure that they are soft or cut up small. You could also use leftovers such as mashed potatoes or diced roast vegetables.
Preparation requirements and suggestions
You will require a flat grill or large fry pan to accommodate the quesadilla diameter to ensure it’s toasted from end to end. Alternatively, you could use a sandwich press.
Keep the heat on moderate so that the cheese melts slowly and the tortillas can crisp up without burning.
I find it easier to create the half quesadilla, which is a single tortilla folded into a moon shape. It is easier to flip, and you can make two quesadillas at once in a frying pan with the folded sides next to each other.
I cook my quesadillas without any oil at all. It’s counterintuitive, but they’re less likely to burn that way. However, you could lightly oil your pan or hot plate with oil if you want.
Serving your quesadillas
Easy Vegetarian Quesadillas
- 1 large wholemeal tortilla or wrap
- ¼ cup beans with pinch paprika and garlic powder or spicy refried beans
- ½ cup grated carrot courgette/zucchinni or halved cherry tomatoes etc.
- ½ cup corn kernels fresh, canned or frozen
- ¼ cup cheese of your choice or mashed potato for a vegan version
- 1 tablespoon red onion, finely chopped (optional)
- 1 tablespoon jalapeños, finely chopped (optional)
- Heat flat grill, large frying pan or sandwich press on medium heat.
- Place the tortilla or wrap on a clean hard surface and spread beans over one half. Then sprinkle the remaining ingredients over the top of the beans, in the order above.
- Transfer tortilla to grill or frying pan and fold the other side of the tortilla or wrap over the ingredients. Press down with your hand or a spatula. Cook for 3–4 minutes or until the quesadilla is crispy and hot. Turn if using grill plate or frying pan and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
- Enjoy as-is or with a side salad, salsa or guacamole.
Have you tried making your own quesadillas?
Share in the comments below your favourite fillings. It might give others reading this recipe some ideas, and I could add them to the fillings list!