Living Vegan In Charlotte, NC – Easy Vegan Recipes – Vegan Restaurant, Product, and Cookbook Reviews

Perfect Vegan Quesadillas

perfect-vegan-quesadillaI have to admit, I’m not a fan of most commercially vegan cheeses – at least not the more widely available, inexpensive ones, like Daiya.

So when I became vegan, I assumed I would never enjoy a cheese quesadilla again.

Don’t get me wrong – I had vegan cheese quesadillas, I just didn’t enjoy them. To me, cheeses like Daiya had an odd, sweet-sour aftertaste I just couldn’t get past.

That is, until that fateful winter’s night at Bay Naturals in Myrtle Beach.

It was freezing.

I was starving.

The fireplace on Bay Natural’s patio was extremely inviting.

fireplace at Bay Naturals

And because I was chilled and craving comfort food, I took a chance and ordered their spinach quesadilla, served with two salsas – black bean and mango.

Bay Naturals Vegan Quesadilla

To my surprise, the quesadilla was amazing. It took me a moment or two before I figured out the secret – the mango salsa!

Yes, the sweet/sour/spicy taste of the mango salsa perfectly complemented/masked the sweet/sour aftertaste of the Daiya cheese. Instead of noticing the aftertaste, I was now just noticing the creamy mouthfeel of the cheese.

I’ve since discovered almost any sweet/spicy salsa will work – peach as well as mango. You just don’t want a typical tomato salsa.

And since quesadillas are more a technique than a recipe, I’ll share how I replicated Bay Naturals’ spinach quesadillas.

vegan-quesadilla

Ingredients for Perfect Vegan Quesadillas:

Flour Tortilla

Cooking Spray, Earth Balance, Canola Oil, or very mild Olive Oil

2 Tablespoons Non-Dairy Cheese (recommend Daiya or Follow Your Heart) per quesadilla

Handful of Spinach Leaves

Mango or Peach Salsa

Optional: Chopped Green Chili Peppers

Optional: Lightly Sauteed Peppers, Onions, Mushrooms

Directions for Perfect Vegan Quesadillas

Spray a nonstick cooking pan with a little cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. You could also use use a very small amount of Earth Balance or canola oil. You might think more oil would be better, but instead of making your quesadillas crispy, it will make them soggy. Less is really better!

quesadilla-pan

If you use olive oil, use only an extremely mild olive oil – or the flavor will be too strong.

Use flour tortillas, not corn tortillas. Corn tortillas will be too crispy/crumbly and will make your quesadilla taste like a taco.

Place a tortilla in the pan. Sprinkle vegan cheese over the tortilla – as much or as little as you want. I personally find a little vegan cheese goes a long way, but you do want enough to be gooey. Two tablespoons is a good amount to aim for.

vegan-quesadilla-add-cheese

If possible, instead of using pre-shredded vegan cheese, use a vegan cheese block and grate the amount you need. Pre-shredded cheese tends to be drier and takes longer to melt. I like Daiya’s Monterey Jack style block. And Follow Your Heart cheese blocks are awesome, if you are lucky enough to find them.

Add additional filling to one-half of the tortilla. Good choices are spinach – use several layers of leaves, as they will wilt! – or chopped green chilies. You can also use other veggies (such as peppers, onions, mushrooms) but they’ll need to be lightly sauteed first.

vegan-quesadilla-add-spinach

Note: Usually I’ll put the spinach or chili on top of the cheese, to make folding easier. I believe I shot the picture this way just to show there was both cheese and the spinach on the tortilla.

Fold the tortilla in half. (Folding the tortilla, as opposed to topping the tortilla with a tortilla “lid,” makes it easier to flip.)

vegan-quesadilla-fold

Cook until bottom of the quesadilla is getting brown and crispy, then, using a spatula, flip the tortilla on the other side to cook. Cook until that side is browned, the cheese is gooey, and the spinach wilted.

vegan-quesadilla-flip

Remember vegan cheese melts, but it doesn’t melt exactly like dairy cheese. Typically it will take a bit longer. So you may need to cook it longer, over a slightly lower heat, to make sure the cheese melts before the tortilla burns!

If your cheese is refusing to completely melt but your tortilla is in danger of burning, remove from heat and pop in the microwave for a few seconds. This will make your quesadilla a little less crispy, but it will definitely melt the cheese! Don’t worry – after a try or two you will know exactly how long to cook your quesadilla on your own particular stove!

BEWARE: some coconut-oil based cheeses, like Chao, taste wonderful but melt into an oily puddle in the microwave and never really “congeal” back together that well. If you’re using a cheese other than Diaya or Follow Your Heart, monitor the microwave very closely.

Serve with a spicy/sweet salsa – THE secret to a great vegan quesadilla!

Quesadillas are good as a light lunch or snack. Or try them as an alternative to a grilled cheese sandwich with a bowl of soup!

perfect-vegan-quesadilla-2

SALSA NOTE: You can certainly make your own salsa! But since I make quesadillas when I’m need something super quick and easy – I usually reach for a bottled sauce. My favorite is Newman’s Own Mango Salsa. Frugal vegan tip: This brand goes on sale frequently, and it’s also fairly easy to find coupons.

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Categorised in: Meatless Mains, Vegan Recipes

2 Responses »

  1. Mmmmm! I am not fond of any vegan sliced cheesecover here in Belgium at the moment but I love cashew based cheeses!

  2. Love the set up next to the fireplace (although the chairs don’t look that comfortable 😉

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VegCharlotte - Living Vegan in Charlotte, NC by www.VegCharlotteNC.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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