Saturday, 13 August 2011

Recipe: Spicy Bean Quesadillas


A quesadilla is, effectively, a sandwich. A Spanish/Mexican take on the American cheese toastie, the French croque-monsieur(/provençal/señor/...), the Italian panini...I think you catch my drift. Yes I hear you - why am I giving you a recipe for a sandwich? Well, it’s more a recipe for the rather tasty, rather feisty bean filling because I’m pretty sure you don’t need instructions on how to toast a sandwich... I hope?!? This is quick-fix, no-fuss food at its absolute best that’s probably better for you than a ready meal or oven food. Plus, it’s mouth-wateringly tasty. This one, with the beans, makes for a substantial meal in itself, but if you’re really hungry you can always back it up with some fat chips (SO authentic I know) and guacamole, or stir-fry rice if you’re going down the low fat (but high-carb?!) route. And while I can’t exactly vouch for their authenticity (one glance down the list of spices will explain why), for their flavour... ohhh yes I can.

Ingredients (serves 4)

2 tins red kidney beans
2 large onions
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1tsp asafoetida
2tsp chili flakes
2tsp ground cumin&coriander powder
2tsp salt
lemon juice
fresh ginger

For the quesadilla

4 corn tortillas
lettuce strips
salsa and/or guacamole
shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese.

What to do

1. Drain the kidney beans of their horribly salty preservative water, and wash until the water runs clear. Tip into a food processor, top up with around half a glass of water and blitz. The consistency you’re after is half-mashed. So some whole beans, some completely pureed and some half-way in between.

2. Next, you need to “julienne” an onion (wow, that almost rhymes?) by which I mean slice into sort of long, slim strips. Meanwhile, put the oil to heat in a non-stick saute-pan.

3. Once you’re sure the oil is hot, put in the mustard seeds, asafoetida, chili flakes and finally the onions. You should be treated to that very satisfying sizzling sound (my favourite noise in the world I reckon). If you’re hearing it, you’re doing well (n.b. you might need to turn down the heat to stop the chili flakes from burning and killing you with the acrid fumes in turn).

4. When the onions have browned a little, throw in your semi-pureed beans and stir. Add the ground cumin&coriander and salt. Ensure it’s all mixed in, cover the pan and let it heat through for 8-10 minutes. You need to keep the heat low-ish or the beans tend to dehydrate.

5. When it’s looking all bubbling and beautiful, add in a spritz of lemon (very technical term I’ll have you know - means “as per taste”) and about 2 tsp of sugar to offset it. If you’re wondering “why bother with lemon and sugar when one just offsets the other”, then the answer is that is provides a great sweet-sour flavour. So don’t skip on this one.

6. Give it a taste, add more salt or chili if need be and garnish with some fresh mint or coriander. Leave to bubble for a few minutes more et voilà.

The rest of it’s just a bit of an assembly task - heat up a griddle pan of sorts, spread the beans thinly on one half of a corn tortilla and top with some salsa/guacamole and lettuce. Finish off with a blanket of cheese, fold the tortilla in half and place the uncooked quesadilla onto the heated pan. You may need to press on it lightly with a fish slice or something. Cook for around 1 minute each side before transferring to a chopping board. Then just slice each folded semi circle into half and serve straight away.


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