Meatless Monday: Spicy Quesadillas


Meatless Monday is a global movement, a way of life. It’s not a campaign to turn everyone in the world vegetarian or vegan; in fact, many involved are meat-lovers. Eating less meat has been proven to reduce the risk of disease, curb obesity and has important environmental impacts, too. Will you join us in giving up meat, just for one day a week?

Mexican food is the one cuisine I never tire of. After spending last week in Mexico on my annual get-me-out-of-here-it’s-too-cold-vacation, I’m craving more salsa, guacamole, beans and spiced vegetables stuffed into tortillas or scooped up with tortilla chips, even though that’s what I lived on for the last 7 days.

The thing about Mexican food is that it’s usually pretty heavy on the meat, but most of the classics are easy enough to make meatless, especially if you’re doing the cooking yourself. If it’s burritos or tacos you’re craving, substitute black or pinto beans for the ground beef or chicken; you can season the beans with the same spices. Same goes for nachos — pile on refried beans or seasoned black beans along with the cheese, onions and olives and all that good stuff. For fajitas, use grilled or sauteed vegetables instead of the beef or chicken. Huevos rancheros, chiles rellenos, chilaquiles, beans and rice … the meatless Mexican possibilities are endless.

Quesadillas are another easy-to-make-meatless Mexican option and they come with an added bonus: they’re ready in a couple of minutes. You can bulk these up with a few more servings of vegetables if you’d like too. Add some leftover spinach, zucchini, squash — whatever you have — right in with the spicy, melty cheese and corn.

The Beekman  Boys’ Spicy Quesadillas

4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)
2 1/2 tablespoons cajeta
6 to 8 drops habanero sauce
3/4 cup fresh corn kernels (from 1 cob or thawed frozen)
1/4 cup finely chopped red onions
2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
Four 6 1/2-inch flour tortillas
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Stir together the feta, cajeta and habanero sauce in a medium bowl until well combined. Stir in the corn, onions and cilantro.

Spread 1/3 cup of the mixture on half of a tortilla, leaving a 1/2-inch border on the side with the filling. Brush the border with water, fold the other half over and press tightly to seal. Repeat with remaining tortillas.

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Working with 2 folded tortillas at a time, cook until golden brown, about 30 seconds per side. Transfer to a baking sheet. Bake until piping hot, about 5 minutes.

To serve, cut each in thirds, or quarters if you prefer.

Makes: 4 to 6 servings

More Meatless Mexican Recipes:

Five-Layer Mexican Dip
Spicy Guacamole
Egg and Refried Bean Burritos
Ranchero Tostadas
Taco Salad With Black Beans and Corn
Potato-and-Corn Tacos