I love quesadillas. Every quesadilla recipe I see I like. My Pinterest board is literally filled with various quesadilla recipes, many of them pretty unique (I have a recipe for a Hawaiian BBQ quesadilla… I don’t know whether to be excited or scared). I mean what is not to love about crunchy tortillas and melted cheese?? The other delicious contents like tomatoes, avocado, sour cream (the possibilities are endless) are really just a bonus. Before I left for Brazil in June, my parents, Sadie, and I went to El Patron, a really unhealthy yet delicious “Mexican” restaurant close to my house. I ordered the shrimp quesadilla and it was cheesy, sour cream filled mess that was quite possibly one of the most heavenly things I have ever eaten. I craved one of them the entire time I was in Brazil. But trust me this slice of heaven was incredibly heavy and left me feeling full and unhealthy. I searched the internet for a healthier alternative and of course I found one on Skinny Taste. When I saw this recipe I was so excited, and it will definitely join my list of favorite quesadilla recipes (yes I have a list).
Tomato Avocado Salsa:
- 1 medium tomato, diced
- 1 hass avocado, diced
- 1 lime, juice of
- 1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
- 1 tbsp red onion, finely minced
- 16 large shrimp, cleaned and deviened
- garlic powder
- salt and fresh pepper
- cooking spray
- 4 scallions, chopped
- 6 oz Cabot’s 75% Light Vermont Cheddar, shredded
- 8 (6″) low carb whole wheat flour tortillas (I used La Tortilla Factory)
In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, avocado, red onion, lime juice, cilantro, salt and pepper.
Season shrimp with salt, pepper, cumin, and garlic powder. Lightly spray a hot skillet on medium heat with cooking spray, add shrimp and scallions. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side until shrimp is cooked though. Remove from heat and cut shrimp in half lengthwise, set aside.
Heat skillet on medium heat and lightly spray with oil. Add tortilla, top with 1.5 oz cheese, 8 shrimp halves, and tomato avocado salsa. When the cheese is melted and the bottom of the tortilla is golden brown, place the other tortilla on top. Put a plate on top of the quesadilla to flip it over onto the plate. Then slide the other side onto the skillet. Cook another minute and remove with a spatula. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.
So I followed the recipe almost exactly, although I omitted the scallions from the quesadillas because as I have said before we are not huge onion fans. Also, I used my favorite non-fat Kraft cheddar instead of the white cheddar the recipe calls for. This cheese is my quesadilla staple and it makes me feel better about using the entire bag of shredded cheese. I used smaller shrimp and cut it into bit sized pieces to make the quesadillas easier to eat and to ensure that there was shrimp in every bite. When I had my quesadilla at El Patron, the shrimp was whole and every time I picked it up to eat it one escaped and fell onto the table or unfortunately my lap. So, I successfully avoided this by using the bite-sized pieces.
These quesadillas were really excellent. The salsa was delicious even on it’s own, and it was the perfect, tangy quesadilla filling. I also loved that the shrimp was seasoned with cumin and not something more spicy like red pepper. I really enjoy cumin and I think when I make them again I will whip up a nice cumin flavored sour cream (substituting plain greek yogurt for sour cream of course) for dipping. Also I would definitely make these in the oven instead of in a skillet. I usually use the broiler to make quesadillas, but I thought I would give this method a try because I usually have great success with Skinny Taste recipes. I gave it a shot but I really prefer the oven method; it gives the tortillas a crispy exterior and they never get soggy. Also there is not need to flip them, which proved to be an awkward, scary task that unfortunately resulted in some flying shrimp and tomatoes. My cooking ineptitude aside, overall, I loved this recipe, although I will change the cooking method when I make these again. Also the salsa was so delicious and citrusy, I might make it alone to eat with some tortillas chips.
For a side, I took my inspiration from a recipe from The Diva Dish, a blog I recently discovered that has some seriously great vegan dessert recipes (I am already planning a blog post that will include a few of these amazing looking recipes). I made the dressing as it is called for, but I altered the contents of the salad. (I will include the original recipe anyway)
Lemon Quinoa Cilantro Chickpea Salad
Adapted from: Ohsheglows
1/2 C. dry quinoa
2 C. vegetable broth
1 can garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed)
1 c. cherry tomatoes cut in half
2 avocados diced
2 C. spinach
1 bunch cilantro
1/4 C. onion
2 small cloves garlic
For the dressing:
Juice of 2 lemons
zest of 1 lemon
2 tsp. dijon mustard
2 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. agave nectar
1/2 tsp. cumin
dash of salt and pepper
1. Make your quinoa first. Soak the quinoa in a pot in the veggie broth for about 15 minutes. After that, turn on the heat to medium high and let the quinoa come to a boil. Once it boils, reduce heat to medium/low and let quinoa simmer. Stir every so often, and cook quinoa for about 20-25 minutes just until the liquid absorbs. You don’t want it completely dried out, so when there is just a TINY amount of liquid left in the pot, remove it from heat and put a lid on it. Set it aside, and make the rest of the salad.
2. In a food processor, add and chop your spinach and cilantro. Make sure to wash you greens.
3. Add the greens to a bowl, and set aside. Next take your onion and garlic and finely dice those (I do this in the food processor to), and add to the greens mixture. Next add your chickpeas and stir until everything is combined and coated. If the quinoa is cooled, you can add it to the chickpea mixture next.
5. Make your dressing by whisking all the ingredients together. Pour over salad, and mix until combined. Add in tomatoes and avocado and mix. Set in fridge for about 10-15 minutes before serving so the flavors set.
So when I went to start making this salad, I went to the cupboard to get out the box of quinoa. To my dismay it was almost empty and it definitely did not contain 3/4 of cup. I decided to just go on without the quinoa, and I was not disappointed. I mean who needs those extra carbs anyway? I just added an extra cup of tomatoes to fill the salad out a bit more, which was perfect because our refrigerator is overflowing with organic tomatoes from my grandpa’s garden. I also substituted black beans for garbanzo beans, because to be quite honest I don’t really like garbanzo beans (the outer casing they have creeps me out). Black beans are such a healthy Mexican food staple and they worked perfectly with this salad. Even with my quinoa blunder, this dish was simply scrumptious. I am pretty sure my dad had three helpings. It is healthy, light, and has a great citrus flavor without being overwhelming. I think I will make this again and I will leave the quinoa out. This yummy light dish really doesn’t need it.
Mexican night was a success!! I can’t wait to try a new quesadilla recipe next week…or maybe revisit an old favorite.
(P.S. Sorry for the seriously bad photos in this post. I was really hungry and I could not stare at the melted cheese for too long without consuming it.)