kale-sweet-potato-black-bean-quesadillas

We’ll talk about these yummy and healthy Kale, Sweet Potato, Black Bean Quesadillas in a minute.

Kale, Sweet Potato, Black Bean Quesadillas are chock full of veggies and are paired with an unexpected, but delicious light and creamy barbeque dip.

But first, I have to say that the first week or so of this year has started off with a bang. It’s been non-stop appointments, meetings, running around…Remember when I said, “everything in moderation,” and that I was going to “ease” into the new year? Well, the universe had different plans for me. And cooking? Well, of course, right after I preached my norm of cooking three squares a day, my schedule went haywire and suddenly, just making sure everyone actually had something to eat was a daily challenge.

I have friends who often are so busy that they are picking their kids up from one event and having to feed them on the road so that they can get them to their next obligation on time. I endeavor not to have that kind of schedule for myself or my kids. Some families thrive on a busy schedule. For many, it’s simply just the way it is. Whether you signed up for that kind of schedule, or life simply required it of you for a million different reasons, busy schedules are more common than not.

Kale, Sweet Potato, Black Bean Quesadillas are chock full of veggies and are paired with an unexpected, but delicious light and creamy barbeque dip.

I like space and time within the day to breathe, or at least space and time within the week to breathe. It can be a luxury to just stop for a minute and it’s not always possible. Our schedule is currently extremely busy and I am now the parent that has had to feed on the road. This whole disjointed, everyone in a different place at a different time, schedule really challenged my normal meal planning and work schedule. Sooooo, I simply didn’t do a lot of it…not the work, the meal planning. I either made super easy meals that I could throw together or we picked up food on the way. That’s a challenge, because we don’t eat traditional fast food. Thankfully, there are some healthier choices available now, so we try to target those options.

Kale, Sweet Potato, Black Bean Quesadillas are chock full of veggies and are paired with an unexpected, but delicious light and creamy barbeque dip.

Enter these Kale, Sweet Potato, Black Bean Quesadillas. Okay, so they didn’t “enter” during the week, but I found a window of time during the weekend and decided I just wanted to get something homemade and healthy on the table. I started with kale and sauteed it in a pan with shallots. Then I added some water and let the whole thing steam until the kale was tender.

Kale, Sweet Potato, Black Bean Quesadillas are chock full of veggies and are paired with an unexpected, but delicious light and creamy barbeque dip.

While that was happening, I diced up some sweet potato and steamed it in the microwave. I could have put it in the pan along with the kale, but I really didn’t want it to get all smashed up in that saute. The cool thing is that if you dice up your potato, it cooks really quickly in the microwave. I originally thought about just baking the whole potato in the microwave but dicing was quicker and easier. It only took me about 5 minutes. Or maybe you have leftover sweet potato. Use that. You’ll already be one step ahead.

Next up, black beans and corn. I used organic canned black beans, rinsed and drained. For the corn, you can go with canned, frozen or fresh. It’s January, so I went with frozen. I actually used Trader Joe’s Fire Roasted frozen corn for a little extra flavor. The beans and corn get thrown in with the kale and the whole mixture gets heated up.

Kale, Sweet Potato, Black Bean Quesadillas are chock full of veggies and are paired with an unexpected, but delicious light and creamy barbeque dip.

My cheese of choice for this quesadilla is Monterey Jack. Use your favorite cheese. I hate grating cheese, but I recommend that you freshly grate it. There’s a coating on pre-shredded cheese that helps keep it separated and while I will not tell you that I’ve never bought shredded cheese in a bag, I usually buy a block of good cheese and begrudgingly do the grating at home. That means I get a higher quality cheese of my choice, so it tastes better, and when freshly grated, I think it melts better. Sometimes I pawn the job off on my family. Sometimes, I break out the food processor and using the grating blade, get the whole job done in a minute or two (love that!) and then give my husband puppy dog eyes to wash the dishes :)

Time to assemble. Cheese will go on the bottom and cheese will go on the top. It’s the glue that will hold it all together. I used reduced carb whole wheat tortillas from Trader Joe’s. I figured, with the carbs in the potatoes, beans and corn, we could cut back on the carbs in the shell. Then just layer it up. You know the drill…tortilla, cheese, kale mixture, sweet potato, cheese then top it off with another tortilla.

Kale, Sweet Potato, Black Bean Quesadillas are chock full of veggies and are paired with an unexpected, but delicious light and creamy barbeque dip.

I’m giving you a recipe for this dish but really, I never use a recipe to make quesadillas. This recipe works out to four small quesadillas, but I usually just throw a bunch of kale into a pan and add other things. That means I might have leftover filling. Actually, if I weren’t specifically measuring this recipe for you I’d probably end up with triple the amount of filling. That’s no tragedy though. I just use it up at another meal. The recipe is simply a guide for you. For instance, I wrote 1-2 cups of cheese. Why? Because I only used about a cup, trying to keep the cheese in check. But if you want a really cheesy quesadilla, you’re going to need more :)

Kale, Sweet Potato, Black Bean Quesadillas are chock full of veggies and are paired with an unexpected, but delicious light and creamy barbeque dip.

Let’s talk about the dip. It’s easy. It’s really tasty. It’s kind of unexpected with a quesadilla. Normally, there might be salsa involved, or cilantro or avocado or sour cream like I use in Southwestern Egg Rolls. This one is a light and creamy barbeque dip. Two ingredients and you’re done. Just pick your favorite prepared bbq sauce and mix it with plain greek yogurt. Voila! A perfect dipping sauce for this veggie quesadilla! My husband is not a huge fan of plain greek yogurt, but will happily take a heaping serving of this sauce to dip his quesadilla in. My kids love it as well.

Once you cook the quesadilla and the cheese melts and the tortilla gets a little toasty, you’ll have one tasty little meal. It makes a light meal for 4 or a heartier meal for 2. I’d easily double it for my family of four and then serve something extra on the side, more veggies, a salad or rice.

Kale, Sweet Potato, Black Bean Quesadillas. The kale is tender and savory with the addition of the shallot, the sweet potato is creamy and, well, sweet. The beans and corn add some heartiness. And it all works well with the super easy dip.

It was nice to slow down for a minute and make a good healthy dinner. Okay, so we didn’t exactly eat it all at the same time like we normally do, but I think a healthy homemade dinner is a win…

Kale, Sweet Potato, Black Bean Quesadillas are chock full of veggies and are paired with an unexpected, but delicious light and creamy barbeque dip.

whenever and however you can fit it in.

 

Kale, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quesadillas with Light and Creamy Barbeque Dip

Yield: 4 (six inch) quesadillas

Kale, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quesadillas with Light and Creamy Barbeque Dip

Ingredients

    For the dip:
  • 2 Tablespoons of your favorite prepared barbeque sauce
  • 6 Tablespoons plain Greek yogurt (I used Fage 2%)
  • For the quesadillas:
  • 2 cups diced sweet potato, I did not peel mine
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 2 cups chopped fresh kale (I used Tuscan)
  • 1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup sweet corn, fresh, frozen or canned (I used Trader Joe's Fire Roasted frozen corn)
  • 1-2 cups shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
  • 8 (six inch) flour tortilla wraps (I used Trader Joe's Whole Wheat Reduced Carb)
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Make the sauce. Stir yogurt and barbeque sauce together in a small bowl until thoroughly mixed. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.
  2. Cook the sweet potato. Place diced potato into a microwave safe bowl with a spoonful of water. Cover and cook on high for 3-5 minutes or until potato is tender. Set aside.
  3. Heat a large non-stick skillet and add the olive oil. Saute the sliced shallot for a minute and then add the kale. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Saute the kale for a couple of minutes, stirring to keep everything from sticking.
  4. Add 2 Tablespoons of water to the pan and cover until the kale is wilted and cooked to desired tenderness. When water evaporates, if kale isn't done, add another couple of tablespoons of water and continue to cook. If your water evaporates before your kale is finished cooking, add another couple of tablespoons of water and continue to cook, covering to keep the steam in the pan. Mine took about 10 minutes and I used about 6 Tablespoons of water.
  5. Add the black beans and corn and cover until the mixture is heated through. If you have any residual liquid in the pan, remove the cover and let it cook off. You want your mixture moist but not dripping with liquid. Taste and add more salt/pepper, if necessary.
  6. Build the quesadillas. Lay four tortillas on your work surface. Take a spoonful of cheese and sprinkle evenly over each tortilla. Add 1/4 of the kale mixture, then top with 1/4 of the sweet potatoes. Sprinkle cheese on the top, then top each with another tortilla.
  7. Preheat a griddle or clean frying pan to medium heat. I cook these at 350-375 degrees F. on my griddle. Spray lightly with cooking spray. Carefully place tortilla on griddle/pan. Press down during cooking. This will help the tortilla hold together. When the cheese melts and the bottom is browning, carefully flip to cook on the other side. This will take about 2 minutes or so per side.
  8. Remove to a cutting board and cut into wedges. Serve with creamy barbeque dip.

Notes

*As much as I hate shredding cheese, I almost always shred my own from a block of cheese. I prefer both the taste and texture of freshly shredded, but you can certainly take a short cut and buy a pre-shredded bag of cheese.

*I generally use a 1:3 ratio for the dip. If you want to make less, use 1 Tablespoon bbq sauce, 3 Tablespoons yogurt. If you want to make a larger quantity, use 1/4 cup bbq sauce to 3/4 cup yogurt. The truth is, I don't usually measure. I start with a big dollop of yogurt and add bbq sauce to taste :)

*I kept my quesadillas on the healthy side and only used about a cup of shredded cheese total. That allowed me to use about 1/4 cup of cheese for each quesadilla. If you use more, it will be cheesier and will hold together even better since there will be more cheese to "glue" it all together.

*I cooked my diced sweet potato in the microwave, but this is a great recipe to make when you already have leftover cooked sweet potato.

*This recipe makes a light meal for 4 or a heartier meal for 2. You can also round it out with some rice or additional veggies on the side.

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