Mexican food has always been a staple of my vegetarian diet. As far as ethnic diets/restaurants are concerned, it’s pretty friendly to those of us who live without meat. After I transitioned to vegan, it wasn’t particularly challenging to continue enjoying most of my favorite Mexican dishes.
Hold the cheese, and a bean burrito, or vegetable fajita is almost certainly friendly for a plant-based diet. And most restaurants offer veg-friendly rice, and beans. However, there is one dish where holding the cheese means eating plain tortillas – and that of course, is the cheese quesadilla. Fortunately, at home, I’ve found a simple, and satisfying way to make a filling quesadilla.
Thanks to Daiya (and others), there really aren’t too many cheesy meals that can’t be made with from plants. Making a plant-based quesadilla is no exception. I start my recipe with Daiya’s “Classic Blend” and a whole wheat tortilla from Whole Foods.
While at this point, we have a the beginnings of a very basic quesadilla, it would be a little boring to stop here.
To make things a little more interesting, I like to add some veggies, and a protein. My personal preference is a combo of mushrooms, peppers, and onions. In this case, I went some shitakes, onions, and a red bell pepper. I also added a bit of Tofurky’s excellent Slow Roasted Chick’n, which I believe might be the most versatile faux-meat on the market.
I prefer that these additional ingredients compliment a heavy cheesey flavor, so instead of cutting them up into small pieces, I chop them all in a food processor.
By having all of the stuffing ingredients sized to about a that of a diced onion, the effect is to have mushrooms, onions, peppers, and chick’n that swim within a sea of melted Daiya, rather than tasking a meaty bite of chick’n with a cheesy sauce.
To prep the chopped ingredients, I use a small Ninja food processor, and pulse until they’re mixed as I’d like. I then transfer them to a pan and heat them through. Heating them aside from the Daiya topped tortilla allows me to start melting the shreds in the oven so that the tortilla doesn’t overcook waiting for the veggies to heat.
Once heated, I add to the tortilla, and top with some more Daiya. I then top the bottom tortilla with a second tortilla. While quesadillas are typically folded over, I use smaller tortillas, so the doubling up yields a similar result.
I then put the “sandwich” back in the oven (at 350). Once there’s some good melt going on, I flip the quesadilla over.
Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as flipping a pancake. The quesadilla will fall apart pretty easily, since I don’t fold it over. My trick for a clean flip is to spatula it onto a plate, and then flip it back onto the pan from the plate.
Total cooking time is roughly 15-20 minutes. Prep time is about the same. Consumption time will vary.
It’s worth noting that although plant-based, this meal isn’t meant to be healthy. It does skip out on carcinogens, and cholesterol, but all in, it’s probably a 600-700 calorie plate, with about 200 calories each from the tortillas, chick’n, and shreds.