Recipe: Kale, Sweet Potato & Black Bean Quesadillas — Earthy Vegan Dinner!

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Whew!  All I can say is it’s been quite the whirlwind here in QV land these past few weeks.  I’ve been to Albany VegFest, where I had my very first table for Quantum Vegan’s wellness consulting services!

Quantum Vegan at Albany VegFest 2014

That was a lot of fun–I connected with so many great people and discovered new vegan vendors like Dirty Ass Soaps (it all looks like food!) and Hippie Cakes, plus visited some of my favorites including The Fanciful Fox and the ever-amazing X’s to O’s Vegan BakeryA big hi to everyone I spoke with!  It was great meeting you.

The weekend after that, it was off to the Toastmasters District 53 Fall Conference to compete in the Humorous Speech contest.  I didn’t place, but I learned a lot and am raring to go for the spring contests.

Two days after I came home from that, I had to give my final oral presentation for the Nutrition Consultant program I’ve been studying through Bauman College.  It feels weird to be at the end of the program after studying consistently for 13 months and then spending another 8 weeks or so teaching classes and working with clients.  It’s been quite the experience–taking in a ton of information and trying to learn to apply it to helping people go plant-based in a practical, healthy way that can be sustained for a lifetime.

Needless to say, blogging has kind of fallen by the wayside with all this going on.  Now that I’m officially graduated, I’m hoping that won’t be the case.  I miss sharing the blogsphere with everyone!  I’ve been behind the scenes, watching all the Thanksgiving recipes go up and eying all things pumpkin.

I’d imagine that, in the aftermath of this food-centric holiday, you’ve got some sweet potatoes hanging around.  (I know I do.  I always buy a ton!)  I’d also imagine that you’re more than sick of Thanksgiving leftover posts, both the turkey-laden monstrosities that appear in the mainstream and the vegan ones all over the Internet.

This recipe ignores the “stuff everything full of stuffing and cranberries” tradition and provides a viable weeknight dinner that doesn’t look like you’re desperate to get rid of the last remnants of the yearly gobblefest.  In fact, the only resemblance it bears to Thanksgiving is the fact that it happens to contain slices of sweet potato.

“Okay,” you’re thinking.  “What the heck is it, then?”

Meet the Black Bean, Sweet Potato & Kale Quesadilla, the brainchild of one of those “I’m home alone and have no idea what to eat for dinner” days!

vegan black bean sweet potato kale quesadilla served

Here I’m revisiting one of my favorite food trios: sweet potatoes, black beans and kale.  I love the combination of earthy, sweet and green!  Here I’ve given it a bit of a Mexican twist with some spicy chili powder, zesty lime juice and pungent cumin.

black bean sweet potato kale quesadilla ingredientsDon’t let the number of pans involved intimidate you; these quesadillas are actually very easy to make!  Steam the sweet potatoes while you’re sauteing the veggies and beans, and you’ll have your filling ready in no time.

vegan black bean sweet potato quesadilla open nootch

vegan black bean sweet potato quesadilla open with kae

I love to bake quesadillas instead of pan-frying them.  It gives the tortilla a delightful crunchy texture that complements the softer ingredients inside.  All it takes is about ten minutes with one quick flip in the middle.  A pizza pan is just the right size for making two chock-full quesadillas!

vegan black bean sweet potato kale quesadilla closeup

Go ahead and use any kind of tortilla that you want.  I’m fond of making my own oil-free version with whole grain flour.  They have a very simple flavor that serves nicely as a background for any filling combination.  In this case, the zippy Mexican theme of the beans takes center stage.  Dress it up with a bit of nutritional yeast and a generous serving of salsa and enjoy an entirely different post-Thanksgiving meal!

Kale, Sweet Potato & Black Bean Quesadillas
 
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Recipe type: dinner
Serves: 2 quesadillas

Ingredients
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into thin rounds
  • 6 oz. kale, tough stems removed, leaved chopped
  • ⅔ cup onion, chopped
  • 1 small or ½ large jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed if canned
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • chili powder
  • cumin
  • lime juice
  • black pepper
  • 2 large tortillas of choice

Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Place the sweet potato in a steamer basket inside a medium saucepan with a small amount of water at the bottom. Cover and steam for 8 minutes. Add the kale and steam for 7 minutes more, adding more water if necessary.
  3. Meanwhile, place the onion and jalapeno in a small saute pan over medium heat. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add splashes of water to the pan if it gets too dry. Stir in the black beans along with chili powder, cumin and lime juice to taste. Mash the beans with the back of a spoon, adding enough water to make a slightly wet paste. Remove from the heat.
  4. When the sweet potatoes and kale are done steaming, remove from the heat and run under cold water until cool enough to handle. Remove the kale and squeeze as much water out of it as possible. Pat the sweet potato slices dry if necessary.
  5. Place the tortillas on a baking sheet. Spread ½ of the bean mixture on one side of each tortilla. Divide the sweet potato slices between them, layering as necessary. Sprinkle with the nutritional yeast. Top with the kale and a little black pepper.
  6. Fold the tortillas over and bake for 10 minutes, turning once. Serve with salsa or you favorite quesadilla toppings.

 

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About the Author:

Sam has been a vegan since summer of 2009 and has spent the subsequent years experimenting with all manner of vegan food. She holds a Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies and is a graduate of the Bauman College Nutrition Consultant Program. She is a member of Toastmasters International and currently serves as part of the Capital View Toastmasters club. When she's not blogging or cooking, Sam likes to read and study the Bible, play silly card games and knit socks.
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