Vegan Sweet Potato Quesadillas with Tomatillo Sauce

I know. ‘Vegan Quesadilla’ sounds like an oxymoron, but in our family, anything that

Who needs cheese?  These sweet potato quesadillas taste great without it!

Who needs cheese? These sweet potato quesadillas taste great without it!

comes to the table in a folded-in-half-crispy-tortilla is a ‘quesadilla’. If you’re not vegan, add some cheese if you can’t stand eating a ‘quesadilla’ without the queso! Or, try it without—it’s quite tasty and a family favorite.

Serves 4-6, depending on how hungry you are
Prep time: 30 minutes

3 large sweet potatoes-about 2.5 lbs, peeled and grated (I used the light-skinned ones with the light colored interior—the ‘Yams’ with the darker skin and orange interior work well, too)
1/3 c. water
2 tsp. olive oil
½ tsp. cumin seeds
1 jalapeño, chopped (remove the seeds and pith if you want a more mild flavor, leave them in if you like spicier food)
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp. salt (add more if you need to)
½ cup chopped cilantro

Use low heat so that that onions don't burn.

Use low heat so that the onions don’t burn.

Heat a very large non-stick frying pan or a cast iron skillet on medium-high heat. Once it’s hot, add the oil and then cumin seeds. When the cumin seeds turn brown, lower the heat a little and add the onions, jalapeño and garlic. Stir occasionally until the onions are almost caramel colored.

Add the sweet potatoes and the 1/3 cup of water and stir everything together before covering the skillet. Every 3-5 minutes, remove the lid and stir the mixture. Cooking time will depend on which type of sweet potato you used (the lighter ones will take a little longer). When the sweet potatoes are almost cooked (they will be tender), add the salt and chopped cilantro and stir well.

While the filling cooks, start the tomatillo sauce.

You don't have to finely chop the veggies, since they'll be blended later on.

You don’t have to finely chop the veggies, since they’ll be blended later on.

1 tsp. olive oil
6-7 tomatillos
1 shallot or ¼ cup chopped onion
½ jalapeño
1 clove of garlic
¼ cup blanched, slivered almonds
3 Tbs. cilantro
1 tsp. salt
½ cup water
2 tsps. chicken-flavored seasoning (I like Bill’s Chickenish Flavoring).

Peel the papery layer from the tomatillos and rinse the tomatillos. Cut them into large wedges or circles. Cut the shallot, jalapeños and garlic into large chunks (everything will be blended, so you don’t have to chop anything into fine pieces). Heat a medium, non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and then all of the chopped veggies. Stir and then lower the heat to medium. Stir occasionally. When the veggies start to look ‘roasted’, add the almonds and cook for another two minutes. Put the water, salt and chicken-flavored seasoning into a high powered blender (I have a BlendTec) and then add the ‘roasted’ veggies. Blend everything until it’s semi-smooth. Taste and add more salt, if needed.

We prefer whole-wheat tortillas.

We prefer whole-wheat tortillas.

To assemble the ‘quesadillas’: Heat a lightly greased skillet or griddle to medium and lay your favorite brand of whole-wheat tortillas on the griddle and place about ¾ a cup of the sweet potato filling on one side of the tortilla (pretend it’s cheese 😉 ). Fold the tortilla in half and repeat with the other tortillas. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side, and then top with two tablespoons of the tomatillo sauce and serve hot.

You can also make the filling and sauce ahead of time and assemble the quesadillas right before the meal. Garnish with cilantro sprigs.

If you’d like to know why I eat the way I do, see my Healthy (er) Choices Manifesto.

©2013 Anita Strawn de Ojeda

Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a 'recovering cancer caregiver' who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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  • We just ate this for supper tonight–delicious! Louis LOVED the tomatillo sauce.