I’d like to welcome the lovely Katie Mae to Cowgirls & Collard Greens for her first guest appearance! Katie is a plant based nutritionist and culinary instructor and the founder of www.plantzst.com. Katie and I have met a number of times in person at various events, all vegan of course, in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. It is my pleasure to have her share a yummy recipe which is not only vegan but also oil and salt free as well. Let’s get right to the recipe, it looks so delicious I want to eat my computer screen(!!!). Thanks so much for sharing Katie!
Yeehaw, Kayle xo
Caramelized Onion & Pepper Quesadillas By Katie Mae M.S.
I’m someone that eats for flavor, for joy. When I eat I want my taste buds to be delighted. I want my food to be so good that I savor each bite, and am completely mindful of what I’m eating. Developing a mindfulness practice helps with this, but when you have delicious food, the food itself will bring you into the present moment.
That being said, I’m also a nutritionist with the purpose of helping people thrive. Thus, I also want my food to be nutrient dense and health-promoting. What I’ve learned is that we don’t have to choose between flavor and nutrition. We can have both. In fact, that’s what brought me to a plant-based diet. With plant foods and a little creativity, we can bring joy and vitality into our lives with every bite we take.
This recipe is a perfect example of this. As a Caterer for Whole Foods Market, their veggie quesadilla recipe was one of my favorite appetizers I made for our guests. After sometime of being plant-based, I decided I wanted a warm, “cheesy” quesadilla. Of course, it would not involve cow’s cheese, but I didn’t want to use a highly processed cheese alternative either. After quite a bit of experimenting in the kitchen I came up with this recipe: Caramelized Onion & Pepper Quesadillas. With a creamy cheese based on whole plants, a little spice and fresh greens, these quesadillas are packed with nutrition and flavor! I hope that you enjoy them as much as I do.
Makes 4 quesadillas (about 8 inch diameter)
¾ cup raw cashews, soaked for 2 hours*
½ cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 lime, juiced
½ tablespoon stoneground mustard, no salt added
½ – ¾ cup water
1 yellow onion, sliced thin
1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced thin
1½ tablespoons ground cumin
1½ teaspoon chili powder
8 organic 100% corn tortillas, no salt or oil added
2 cups fresh spinach, loosely packed
MAKE CHEESE SAUCE: Add the cashews, nutritional yeast, lime, stoneground mustard and water to a blender. Blend until it the sauce is creamy. Set it aside.
MAKE ONION-PEPPER FILLING: Place a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the sliced onion and bell pepper. Stir in the cumin and chili powder. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so to prevent the veggies from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Then stir in a tablespoon of water and continue cooking uncovered. When the water evaporates stir in another tablespoon of water, continuing to sauté until the onions are caramelized.
Turn the heat to low. Pour the cheese sauce into the onion and peppers. Stir well and then cover with a lid so the mixture doesn’t dry out.
MAKE THE QUESADILLA: Place a non-stick pan over medium heat. Let it heat for 5 minutes. Then place one of the tortillas into the pan. Set a timer, letting the first side toast for 2 minutes and then flip. Set the timer for another 2 minutes. As you wait, carefully scoop about ¼ of the filling onto the tortilla and spread it evenly, forming a single layer of peppers and onions. Layer ½ cup of spinach across the onions and peppers. Place the second tortilla on top of the spinach.
Once the timer goes off, or the bottom side is toasted, use a large spatula to carefully flip the entire quesadilla. Toast the second side for 2-3 minutes.
When the quesadilla is done transfer it to a plate. Repeat this process with the remaining filling to make a total of 4 quesadillas. Slice the quesadillas into triangular pieces and serve with toppings of your choice.
Soaking the cashews softens them so they become creamy when blended. If you’re using a high-powered blender such as a vitamix, the nuts do not need to be soaked.
In regards to cooking the quesadillas, note that 2nd, 3rd and 4th quesadillas may require less cooking time because the pan will be hotter. You may want to turn the heat down slightly after the first couple.
ABOUT KATIE MAE
Plant-Based Katie Mae is a leading plant-based nutritionist and culinary instructor out to empower people in living brighter, healthier lives via a plant-based diet. She says, “Let’s eat like our future matters. A plant-based diet is the single best thing we can do for ourselves, our children and the planet.”
Through an online cooking boot camp and live events, Katie Mae teaches how to make a plant-based diet burst with flavor, while being optimally healthy and super easy to do. She’s also created the Plantz eCookbook Series, which includes Mexican, Italian and Dessert cookbooks.
Katie Mae holds a master’s degree in nutrition from Bastyr University and Bachelor’s in Human Biology. Since 2010, Katie Mae has had the great privilege of teaching plant-based nutrition and cooking at TrueNorth Health Center and Dr. McDougall’s Health & Medical Center.