Cherry Quesadillas: a Summertime Twist on a Mexican Mainstay

Out of all the fresh, vibrant, enticing produce I look forward to around this time of year, cherries are the clear stand-out.

Call it nostalgia, but that juicy tartness¬†reminds me of childhood summers spent vacationing with my family in Northern Michigan, where cherries make their way into everything — from pies to paninis. I love cooking with this fruit because even just the aroma drifting¬†through my kitchen calls to mind a special time and place.

Since cherries are currently at¬†the height of peak season, I’m taking full advantage by sneaking them into all my favorite dishes. Like, quesadillas, for example. I’m such a Tex Mex sucker, and cherries definitely turn up the volume on this Southwest staple.

Trust me, it’s summer in your mouth!

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 Ingredients:

2 Whole Wheat Tortillas

1/2 c. Halved Cherries

1/4 c. Shredded White Cheddar*

4-5 Fresh Basil Leaves

1/2 tbsp. Raw Honey

2 tsp. Orange Zest

*Need a vegan cheese substitute? Check out my Cashew Cream recipe.

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Preparation:

1. Coat the bottom of a skillet with Cooking Spray and pre-heat the skillet on a medium-high stovetop setting.

2. Place a Tortilla in the skillet and spread the White Cheddar (or vegan substitute) evenly over it, then top with the Cherries and Basil.

3. Drizzle the Honey and Orange Zest over the other ingredients, then place the other Tortilla on top.

4. Press down on the Quesadilla with a spatula until the bottom Tortilla starts sizzling (approx. 2 minutes), then flip to the other side.

5. Once both sides have cooked thoroughly, and the Quesadilla reaches a crispy texture, transfer it from the skillet to a plate.

6. Allow the Quesadilla to cook slightly before slicing into 8 equal wedges. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Do I even have to say what’s next? Enjoy!!!
cherry quesadillas

Serving Suggestion:

Make this summery meal even more refreshing by smothering it with a¬†Cherry-Mango Salsa that’s both colorful and bursting with seasonal flavors.¬†Simply toss together 1/2 tbsp. Honey, 1 tsp. Apple Cider Vinegar, ¬† 1 tsp. Sesame Oil, 2 tsp. Chopped Mint, 1/4 c. Diced Mango and 1/4 c. Halved Cherries. The perfect side for a light, fruity entree!

mango cherry relish

Quinoa Quesadillas (now, that’s fun to say!)

It’s Saturday night. Yours truly isn’t exactly in the mood for anything that doesn’t involve Netflix. Thus, I’m gearing up for a low-key evening in the comfort of my own humble abode¬†[read: bed].

But…then hunger strikes. What’s a girl to do?

Crank up the stove and start experimenting, of course!

So, tonight’s creation features a mash-up of flavors a la¬†Mexico and South America. I submit for your culinary seal of approval, my friends:

…drumroll, please

Quinoa Quesadillas!!!

Yup. These vegetarian delights are overloaded with protein, whole grains, and essential plant-based nutrients for a meal that will satisfy both your appetite and taste buds.

To utilize my limited command of the Spanish language (because, you know, just keeping with our theme), they’re fantastico.

Legitimate Spanish-speakers: is that actually a word?

Well, regardless…enjoy this delicious and nutritious recipe from my kitchen to yours!

Ingredients:

quinoa quesadillas ingredients

  1. 2 Whole Wheat Tortillas
  2. 1/4 cup Quinoa
  3. 1/4 cup Mushrooms (chopped)
  4. 1/4 cup Red Onions (sliced)
  5. 1/4 cup Tomatoes (chopped)
  6. 1/4 cup Cotija Cheese (crumbled)*

* Make this recipe vegan by substituting the cheese for Silken Tofu.

Preparation:

quinoa quesadillas preparation 1

quinoa quesadillas preparation 2

quinoa quesadillas preparation 3

  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, cook the quinoa according to the package instructions.
  2. While the quinoa is simmering, prep the vegetables and cotija cheese (or vegan substitute).
  3. Pre-heat a small skillet over a medium stove top setting and coat with olive oil cooking spray.
  4. Remove the quinoa pan from heat and drain any remaining water, then set aside temporarily.
  5. Combine the mushrooms, red onions and tomatoes in the skillet, then saute them until softened.
  6. Remove the vegetables from heat after approximately 3-5 minutes and set aside temporarily.
  7. Re-coat the skillet with cooking spray and turn the stove top burner back to a medium setting.
  8. Place 1 tortilla¬†in the skillet and spread the quinoa evenly over it, leaving 1/2″ space along the edge.
  9. Add both the cotija cheese and sauteed vegetables, then place the second tortilla on top.
  10. Cook the bottom tortilla for approximately 2 minutes, or until it sizzles, then flip to the other side.
  11. Allow the second tortilla to cook for the same amount of time before removing from heat.
  12. Once the quesadilla has cooled slightly, cut it into 8 equal-sized wedges and ENJOY, of course!

quinoa quesadillas finished product

TA DA!!!

But wait…there’s more:

Serving Suggestion:

Cored avocado halves — mashed with a fork, drizzled in lime juice, then¬†dusted with just a hint of chili powder,¬†stevia and leftover cotija cheese —¬†make a fabulously bold side for this Latin-inspired dish.