September 9, 2010

CSA Fall Edition: Vegan Quesadillas

Our CSA has been a blessing this summer, providing us with tons of delicious veggies each week. We shared with you the contents of a typical spring share and discussed the plethora of tomatoes we received in many of our summer shares, but now as we move into fall, we are seeing the shift in seasons reflected in our CSA contents.

Last week, we received:

1 bunch rainbow kale
1 bunch herbs (sorrel)
2 Delicata squash
1 bag Roma tomatoes (1 lb)
1 bag onions (2 lb)
1 8 oz package of baby portobella mushrooms
1 bag red potatoes (2 lb)
1 bag jalapeno peppers (1/4 lb)

Quite a lot of delicious, completely organic food! We are still seeing the last of summer's tomatoes, but are also seeing more classic fall vegetables- squash, potatoes, and kale. For some reason seeing the combination of kale and mushrooms reminded me of a dinner I made last year and have often thought about since. I'm not one to repeat recipes often, but I knew I wanted to recreate this and share it with you. Unfortunately, the actual combination is swiss chard and mushrooms, so it required several non-CSA purchases, but the end result was completely worth it. Don't let the vegan-ness of this scare you- it's chock full of flavor and very hearty.

Sweet Potato, Chard, and Mushroom Quesadillas (original recipe found here)

1 sweet potato (medium), peeled and diced into chunks
1 large chipotle pepper in adobo, minced + 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
15 ounce can kidney beans (or any bean of your choice) rinsed and drained
2 large garlic cloves, minced
10-12 ounces of baby portabella mushrooms, chopped
1.5 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 bunch chard, rinsed
2-4 whole wheat tortillas (depending on your hunger level and size of the tortilla; Trader Joe's makes the best whole wheat tortillas I've ever come across)

These quesadillas have three main components, each needing to be prepared separately. However, it all comes together in about 15 minutes! To start, place your peeled, diced sweet potato in a medium, microwave safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a small towel, microwave on high for 4-5 minutes. At this point it should be mashable, if not, nuke it for another minute or two. Add the can of beans, the chipotle pepper and sauce, and season with salt and pepper. Using a potato masher or a large fork, mash everything and stir to combine. The potato should be fully mashed; the beans need not be. Also, a note on chipotle peppers. They come in a small can, and you literally only want to use one. Very spicy and very flavorful. If a recipe calls for ONE pepper, please do not think that this means one entire can. Transfer the remaining peppers and sauce into a small Tupperware or baggie and freeze; for later meals, just scrape out what you need.

While the sweet potato is cooking, prepare the chard. Rinse the leaves well, then cut or tear the leaves off of the stems; discard stems. Tear or slice the leaves into smaller pieces. Heat a pot, coat with cooking spray and add your chard. Add about 1/4 cup of liquid- either vegetable broth or water- to help the steaming process, and cover. Chard cooks quickly, so really only needs a couple of minutes in the steam bath. When it's fully wilted, you may need to dump off the remaining liquid-- I poured it off and then lightly squeezed the chard to make sure it wasn't super juicy (nobody wants a soggy quesadilla).

Onto the third component! In a skillet, heat some olive oil, then add your chopped mushrooms and garlic. I also seasoned these with salt and pepper, but not necessary. Once the garlic is softened and your mushrooms are well cooked, it's time to assemble and heat the quesadilla. I moved the mushrooms to a plate and reutilized the same skillet. Start with your tortilla, then glob on some of the sweet potato mixture. The recipe is actually intended to feed two, but I was able to make four meals out of it-- two quesadillas and two burritos. Whatever works for you. Make a good bed of sweet potato on one half of the tortilla, then layer on the chard. Finally, top with the sauteed mushrooms, cover with the opposing side of the tortilla, and transfer to the pan. Heat for 3-4 minutes per side, to crisp up the tortilla and heat everything through.

You can serve these with sour cream (non-vegan alert!), but we actually love them plain. The chipotle flavor is pretty intense, and really works well with the earthy sweet potato and beans. Each bite has a variety of textures all working together- the chewy tortilla, the creamy sweet potato and the soft mushrooms all form a delicious, filling meal that is even better the next day. It's perfect for a fall or winter dinner (plus all of the ingredients are produced at this time of the year!), comes together amazingly fast, and you won't miss the meat- I promise.

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