Healthy Food Choices Inspire Me
Healthy (er) food choices always inspire me. Take, for instance, lowly quesadillas. I’d never even heard of them until I started college, and after we married, we often ate them because they only took a few minutes to prepare. Somewhere along the way, we started adding beans to them, because all that cheese might taste good, but we knew it probably didn’t help our overall state of health.
I’ve been playing with quesadilla recipies for twenty years now, and this one wins every time.
I know, ‘vegan quesadillas’ sounds like an oxymoron. But in our family, anything that 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.
Sweet Potato Quesadillas with Tomatillo Sauce
If you'd like to try the gluten-free version, simply use corn tortillas instead of whole-wheat tortillas.
- 3 Sweet Potatoes Peeled and grated. We use the lighter-skinned ones.
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
- 1 jalapeño chopped (remove the seeds and pith is want a more mild flavor)
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 tsp. salt add more if desired
- 1/2 cup cilantro chopped
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 sweet potatoes cook, start the tomatillo sauce.
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 6-7 to matillos
- 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.
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.
We prefer whole-wheat tortillas.
If you’d like to know why we eat the way we do, check out the Healthy (er) Choices Manifesto.