Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Meatless Monday: Spinach Cheese Quesadillas, Easy Black Beans, and Spanish Rice

Quesadillas with beans and rice is almost a no-brainer, but the lack of green in the meal seems wrong to me. I will usually serve this with a little salad anyway, but adding the spinach and making the beans from scratch (although to make it quick, I used canned beans) really adds to the freshness and nutrition.  I also upped the health quotient by using whole grain tortillas and olive oil instead of butter.
I used non-fat Greek yogurt with a sprinkle of dill instead of sour cream.
This has the added benefit of increasing the protein content of the meal.

Spinach Cheese Quesadillas
I feel silly writing a recipe, but I do know at least one woman who did not know what a quesadilla was.  I explained that it was a grilled cheese sandwich, only instead of bread you use tortillas.  I buy my shredded cheddar in bulk, and then freeze it in small bags in 2 cup portions.  I also normally would add a little chopped mushroom to this, but mushrooms is on one of my kids' Don't Like List. Therefore, I'm not allowed to give him a hard time about it, so I leave them out for now. 

I used sprouted grain tortillas for these.
2 cups chopped spinach
(1/2 cup thinly sliced mushrooms, sauteed, optional)
2 cups shredded cheddar
1 scallion chopped
10-12 medium tortillas
small amount of butter or olive oil

Butter or brush olive oil one side of a tortilla and put in a frying pan, with the heat on medium. Sprinkle cheese, spinach, sauteed mushroom, and a little scallion. Do the same with one side of another tortilla and layer on top, greased side up. When the quesadilla is brown on the bottom, carefully flip over and brown the second side. Makes 5-6 quesadillas.

Black Beans
Holy frijoles, these are yummy! My twins LOVE beans and rice.  Can't feed them fast enough. If this is the case for you, make a double batch and use the leftovers the next day for lunch. The flavors meld together overnight, so they're even better reheated. If you want to REALLY make it from scratch, soak the beans overnight and cook for 30 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, depending on how long you soaked the beans, etc.  Or you could use a pressure cooker or crock pot. It's really not difficult; just takes some planning.  

I added frozen roasted corn. So good.
  • 1 (16 ounce) can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 red bell pepper, chopped or frozen corn
  • 3 T chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 1 T sherry or white wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt to taste

Saute the onion and garlic together in 1 tsp olive oil. Add red pepper, then beans.  Stir in balsamic, soy sauce, and sherry. Salt and cayenne to taste. Bring to a boil.  Simmer for 5 minutes, then stir in cilantro right before serving. 

Spanish Rice
I may have mentioned before that I cook all my rice in a rice cooker. It's an old rice cooker that I've been using for over 20 years. I add enough water so that my second knuckle is covered when I lay my hand over the surface of the rice. It works every time, but makes it difficult for me to estimate how much water to write down in a recipe. So, I'm adapting the following recipe from
I used short grain brown rice. Long grain rice would give it
a more traditional look. Oh, and I stirred in some chopped
spinach at the end. See Laura's List for more on that.

1 1/2 c white or brown rice, uncooked
2 c water or vegetable broth
1/4 c chopped onion
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp dill weed
1 c salsa

Saute onion in olive oil until soft.  Add uncooked rice and saute.  Add oregano and dill weed. Mix in salsa. At this point, you can add the water and finish cooking on the stovetop, or transfer the whole mixture along with the liquids to a rice cooker to finish. Either way, it's ready in about 20 minutes.

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