HDL COOKS: Refried Bean Quesadillas with Pico de Gallo

refried bean quesadillas with pico de gallo

 I make a lot of vegetarian food. In fact, at the time of posting, I don’t think I’ve ever written a meat recipe for this blog before. The thing about vegetarian food, you see, is that it’s often cheaper to make, faster to cook, and way less risky to reheat the leftovers of for the next day. There are loads of reasons to not eat meat, but those (aside from a general preference for vegetables, carbs and cheese) are usually mine.

Mexican food is one of the perfect cuisines to utilise the veggies in your kitchen and make something cheap, filling and delicious. These quesadillas provide a perfect marriage of cheese, spices and comfort, while also being quite light (unless you, like me, eat four in a row). They are one of the quickest and easiest things I make, because I just chuck the filling in a blender, slap it between two tortillas with some cheese and griddle them for those attractive charred lines. Even the salsa could not be easier to make!

Pico de gallo is one of my favourite accompaniments to this kind of meal, with the sharp lime juice there to complement the spiced bean filling, and the onion and tomato adding some freshness to what might otherwise be a bit of a heavy meal. Usually, I griddle slices of courgettes and layer them into the quesadilla before I grill it, but this is just the bare bones of a recipe that can be adapted (and improved!) depending on how you’re feeling or what you have in the fridge.

I am also a huge advocate of using low fat creme fraiche in the place of sour cream – it provides a lightness that you don’t always get with sour cream (and is usually a bit more widely available in supermarkets).

RECIPE: Refried Bean Quesadillas with Pico de Gallo (serves 4)

– 4 tortilla wraps
– 1 tin kidney beans, drained and rinsed
– 1 red onion, cut into pieces
– 1 green pepper, cut into pieces
– 1 spring onion
– 1 red chilli, stem cut off
– juice of one lime
– a few handfuls of grated cheese (ordinarily I like to use red leicester, but any melty cheese works well!) – I’m never exact, but I do stand by the premise of there never being too much cheese… all you need is enough to spread an even layer across the tortilla
– 3 cloves garlic
– 1/2 tsp paprika
– 1 tsp cumin
– 1 tsp ground coriander

for the pico de gallo:
– 1 white onion
– 2 vine tomatoes
– juice of one lime
– fresh coriander
– salt, to taste

1. In a blender, combine the kidney beans, green pepper, red onion, spring onion, lime juice, chilli, garlic, and spices. Blend until a smooth paste forms. If too wet, heat the mixture in a small saucepan to evaporate some liquid. If too dry, add some more lime juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
2. Make your pico de gallo salsa. I chuck all the ingredients except lime juice in my blender on the chop setting, but you can dice them all individually if you have the patience. You’re looking for a really fine dice, so I would rather do that than use a regular blender, because you really want a bit of crunch rather than a puree. Add the lime juice and taste for seasoning. Add some more salt if needed.
3. Heat up a griddle pan on a medium heat while you assemble your quesadillas. Spread an even dollop of the mixture over one tortilla and sprinkle with cheese, before topping with another tortilla. Place on the griddle for around a minute each side or until the cheese is melted and the tortilla is crisp.
4. Cut your tortillas into quarters, and serve with pico de gallo and low fat creme fraiche or sour cream if you prefer. 

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