10 Minute Meals: Black Bean Quesadillas

We all know that quesadillas are not complicated.  You take a tortilla, fill it with cheese, and apply heat.  I actually love the simplicity of them.  The crunchy exterior breaks away into a gooey center that both confuses and excites our taste buds with only 2 ingredients.  Now, just because they are simple does not mean that they are foolproof.  How many times have you ordered (or, gulp, made) quesadillas that were soggy, limp and/or had something resembling cheese but just didn't quite get there?  Yeah, me too. 

This recipe will teach you my little trick for making sure the inside of the quesadilla is always well balanced and filled with flavor.  The best part, you can make this at the last minute and have dinner in less than 10.


Black Bean Quesadillas 

Makes 6 Quesadillas

Ingredients:

  • 6 Tortillas (I like homestyle tortillas or low-carb/high fiber, if I'm being health conscious)
  • 1 can Black Beans, drained and rinsed (or ~2 cups of homemade black beans)
  • 1 cup cheese, shredded (I use a blend of Mexican cheeses, but use what you love)
  • The Spice & Tea Exchange™ Adobo Spice Blend (our Fiesta Taco or Mexican Mole works well too)
  • Add-ins: fresh green onions, peppers, spinach, corn and/or cilantro (optional)

Directions:

  1. Prepare a cast iron skillet or Panini Press to med-high heat.  (I love my Cuisinart Griddler)
  2. Rinse and drain the black beans well, then place in a medium size bowl.  
  3. Stir in enough shredded cheese to ensure you can hold the quesadilla together and get a bit of cheese with each bite.  The more you add, the more the cheese becomes the star of the dish.
  4. Season with spices and introduce any add-ins you want.  Stir well.
  5. You are looking for a good balance between cheese and black beans.  You want enough cheese to hold everything together, but not so much that it overtakes the black beans.  A lot of people layer ingredients separately onto a tortilla and find that it is hard to keep together.  It also tastes like cheese on top of beans.  That is not what we want.  We want our mouths to fill with all the ingredients at once.  We want to get hit with that wow right away.  We don't want to taste tortilla, then beans, then onions, then the cheese.  That's kind of a trick with a lot of cooking.  If you want people to taste in layers, then layer the ingredients.  If you want to hit them with a punch of flavor, mix ingredients.  This works great with all kinds of quesadillas.  Start with your main ingredient or main flavor (beans, spinach, chicken, etc.), then add enough cheese to blend into each bite without taking over the main ingredient.  Finally, add in your supporting cast (green onions, spices, peppers, etc.)  This is to taste.  A little goes a long way, and you have to decide how much of those flavors you want to come through. 
 You can see in this picture that the beans are the majority winner here, but the cheese is evenly distributed.  There is a bit too much bell pepper in this bowl (I was trying to use up a leftover yellow pepper) so I know that bell pepper is really going to come out in the flavor.  If I wanted it to be more of a background flavor, I would have used less.

You can see in this picture that the beans are the majority winner here, but the cheese is evenly distributed.  There is a bit too much bell pepper in this bowl (I was trying to use up a leftover yellow pepper) so I know that bell pepper is really going to come out in the flavor.  If I wanted it to be more of a background flavor, I would have used less.

Directions continued:

  1. Scoop 1-2 spoonfuls of the black bean mixture into half of a tortilla and fold the empty side over the top.  Press down on the tortilla to evenly distribute the filling.  You want enough to fill the tortilla, but not so much that it comes spilling out.  Repeat for all 6 tortillas or until you run out of mixture.
  2. Spray pan (or panini press) with oil.  No oil will give you a firm tortilla, but no crunch.  More than a light coating of oil will give you a greasy quesadilla.  I like to use pan spray because I can control both the calories and the amount of crunch I get.
  3. If using a panini press, spray both the top and bottom of grill and close lid.  After 2 minutes, flip over and reclose lid.  Depending on your press, these are done in less than five minutes.  You don't have to flip these over, but I find that my press is always hotter on the bottom than the top so I get more even results, if I give it a flip.
  4. In a cast iron pan, spray with oil and place quesadilla in center of pan.  You can use a large spatula or another pan to press down on the quesadilla.  After a few minutes, give it a flip and crisp up the other side.  
  5. Remove quesadilla from pan and place on a cutting board or large plate.  Using a pizza wheel (or knife) cut into 4 triangles and serve.