Hi! Welcome to “good mood food” from Kale Me Maybe’s Carina Wolff. If you’ve made it here and aren’t yet a subscriber, come join! You can expect recipes in your inbox every Tuesday, and paid subscribers receive even more every Thursday! You can also try a week for free!
I’m not sure if this happens to anyone else or if it’s just a “me” thing, but I tend to get really nostalgic, emotional, and introspective when the seasons change. I am very sensitive to the shift in atmosphere and energy between seasons, almost like I know I have to say goodbye to a chapter and welcome in a new one. It’s a reminder that life keeps moving forward, but that also repeats.
I love spring. I love the smell of flowers in the air, the poppies that burst up out of the side of the road, the extra hour of daylight in the evening that brings promises of al fresco dinner parties and bountiful vegetable platters. I love knowing that a dip into the ocean is just around the corner, that soon I can galavant in my sundress late into the night, leaving my jacket at home.
But spring also means rebirth. And rebirth means transformation. And in order to transform, you have to look at who you once were. What was I doing last year at this time? Who was I? What have I done to improve that woman? Where have I lost the parts of her I love?
Forget one year. Let’s go back five. Wow, life has changed so much! Suddenly, I’m reflecting on who I am and where I’ve been and where I’m going. And if I stop for a moment and really think about it, it overwhelms me.
Last night, I texted my friend “We’ve known each other for 25 years.” We both freaked out, trying to understand how it is even possible to know someone for 25 years when I still feel like I might be 25. It’s not even that I feel “old,” because I don’t, and I find it frustrating when young people age themselves because they’ve started to see life pass them by. It’s just a moment of mindfulness, a check-in, a pause, a chance to objectively look at your life and your place in it. We don’t do that enough.
It’s not a bad feeling, though. With it comes excitement, adventure, endless possibilities. If I’ve learned anything in life, it’s that you cannot predict or plan your future. I didn’t predict or plan to be a food blogger — not even close. I did not plan to meet the love of my life on a spontaneous trip to Nashville. And I’m sure I will not plan for something else life-changing that could happen to me this year. That is both exciting and scary. A new season awaits.
Half-Baked Harvest recently made jalapeño crusted burritos (which she based off of Lowkey Burritos in Long Beach), and I thought it would be fun to apply the same concept to quesadillas. I like to load up my quesadillas with black beans and other vegetables like spinach and peppers to give them a little boost of nutrition and make it a complete meal.
Some history on quesadillas!
Quesadilla’s roots began in Northern and Central Mexico. The first mention of a dish that resembled a quesadilla dates back to a 16th-century Italian cookbook, where there’s a dish described that sounds like “a Medieval version of a fried pop tart.” This concept seemed to have crossed the Atlantic when Spanish colonizers came to Mexico. The Aztecs were already using corn tortillas and stuffing them with things like squash and pumpkin, but the Spanish brought over sheep, lambs, and cows, which introduced cheese, and the quesadilla was born!
Not all quesadillas have the same fillings — some have cheese (like the more traditional Oaxacan cheese), and others come cheese-less, depending on what region of Mexico you’re in. American quesadillas are treated more like a grilled cheese sandwich, with high moisture, melty cheeses like cheddar or jack. Things like meat and guacamole are often added.
This quesadilla I made contains melty cheddar, jalapeños inside and out, red pepper, onions, and spinach. I used chickpea flour tortillas, but you can always use flour or corn!
Jalapeño Cheddar-Crusted Black Bean Quesadillas
Ingredients (makes 4 quesadillas/serves 2)
1-2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for tortilla frying
1/4 cup yellow onion, finely diced
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
1 1/2 jalapeños, divided (1 finely diced, the other cut into 4 thin slices)
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
Salt and pepper
1 cup cooked black beans
4 cups packed spinach
4 taco sized tortillas (I used Siete’s chickpea tortilla)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1. Add 1-2 tbsp olive oil to a large skillet on medium heat. Add onion, red peppers, diced jalapeño, cumin, paprika, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté for about 5 minutes until onions and peppers have softened. Add in the spinach and black beans, and cook for an additional minute or 2 until spinach has wilted. Transfer to a plate, and set aside.
2. In a clean pan, heat up a little bit of olive oil. Add a tortilla, heat for 30 seconds, and flip. Sprinkle on some cheese, add in some of the bean mixture, and sprinkle on a little more cheese. Fold the tortilla over, add a little bit more cheese, and add one piece of sliced jalapeño to the top. Cook for a minute or two, then flip. Cook for an additional minute or two until cheese is crispy on top and melty in the middle. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT!
Last week, paid subscribers received a bonus recipe (and it was a bit of a two-for-one). This Mushroom & Garlic Confit Couscous will teach you how to make garlic confit AND give you a recipe to use it with — a very tasty, shroomy one! I also recommend making this dish using quinoa!
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