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Monday, May 5, 2014

Meatless Monday (De Mayo) - Lighter Veggie Quesadillas + Grape Tomato Salsa Fresca

Grape Tomato Salsa Fresca - easy, light & fast! Photo: NK
Sluggish Monday or not, you probably know by now that in our house, we'd never let Cinco De Mayo pass unnoticed (do take a look back at our 2012 and 2013 Mexican-inspired food celebrations). 

We're skipping the margaritas this year (let's call it our half-hearted attempt to behave like model citizens a few weekdays), and streamlining recipe prep work more than usual because, well, after a weekend, it takes us a bit more effort to get in the swing of things. 

Still, we're in a celebratory mood for a few reasons, one of which being that just last week, Neurotic Kitchen took great pleasure in receiving the official seal of approval from MeatlessMonday.com. This wonderful internet destination for all things meatless noticed our frequent participation in the eponymous movement, and for that, we're grateful. Needless to say, we're even more eager to continue to support this important health initiative and will look forward to creating many more Meatless Monday dishes to share with you. So today's question was, could Cinco De Mayo be yummy minus meat? The answer - a resounding si! 


Easy Veggie Quesadillas With Grape Tomato Salsa Fresca, Photo: NK

To achieve our meatless mission, we whipped up a fast and super light salsa fresca to go with simple (just 5 ingredients) yet delicious veggie quesadillas made with a quick black bean mash, avocado, and baby spinach. Some melty white cheddar seals this tasty, handheld package up in no time flat. We tried to keep our ingredients as wholesome and clean as possible, and you'll find this dish to be kid friendly too. We hope you enjoy! 

Lighter Veggie Quesadillas + Grape Tomato Salsa Fresca
Adapted from Epicurious
Serves 4 - about 3 slices of quesadilla each

Ingredients:
For the Quesadillas:
15 Ounce Can Organic Black Beans, rinsed well and drained
1 teaspoon Cholula or similar vinegary hot sauce
1 Avocado, cut into thin slices
About 2-3 Ounces Baby Spinach (we like to buy pre-washed for ease of use)
1 Cup Light (low fat) White Cheddar, grated, or similar cheese
4 Large 10-inch Whole WheatTortillas or Wraps (like La Tortilla Factory 100 calorie wraps)
Sliced JalapeƱos - optional

For the Salsa Fresca:
1/4 Cup Chopped Cilantro, plus more sprigs for garnish
About 2 Cups Organic Grape Tomatoes, sliced into thirds or fourths
1.5 teaspoons fresh Lime Juice 
1/4 cup chopped Red Onion
1/4 teaspoon Cumin
1/4 teaspoon Salt 

Method:
1. Mix up the Salsa Fresca ingredients in a medium bowl. Toss well and set aside.


Assembling the Quesadillas, Photo: NK 
2. Prepare the black bean mash by pouring beans into a medium bowl and adding the hot sauce. Now lightly mash them with a large spoon. They should be somewhere in between smooth and chunky. Mix well. (NOTE- if you omit the hot sauce for any reason you must remember to season the black bean mash with some salt. The hot sauce places a significant role in imparting more flavor to the beans).

3. Heat a large skillet or grill pan over medium high heat. To assemble the Quesadillas, lay out 4 tortillas on a clean surface. Spread each tortilla with one quarter of the black bean mixture (don't spread beans all the way to the edge or they will spill out), then add 1/4 of the avocado slices to each tortilla. Now add a handful of spinach leaves to each tortilla, and finish with about 4 tablespoons of grated cheese per quesadilla. 

4. Fold quesadillas carefully in half and apply some pressure with your hands. Cook them 2 by 2 on the hot skillet (or more at a time if you have room) allowing them to grill on each side for 2-3 minutes before flipping. The quesadillas should brown nicely but not burn (some grill marks will appear as well). Press them down with a spatula to help the cheese melt and seal. Remove quesadillas to a cutting board and allow to cool slightly. Slice into 3 triangles a piece using a serrated knife and plate. Serve with Salsa Fresca, sprigs of cilantro, a sprinkling of sliced jalapeƱos and, of course, extra hot sauce. Enjoy! 

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