Southwestern Quesadillas

Quesadillas. Every time I say that word, I think of Napoleon Dynamite. I’m officially stuck in 2004.


Of course I wanna put a “dang” in front of it and say it like “kay-sa-dill-a” too. I’ll refrain though.

Just as an aside – I really do say dang – and not just when I’m impersonating movie characters from eight nine (holy crap – time flies) years ago. I slip and say it on the day to day, not realizing people think it’s weird. I’m from New England – we say “wicked” and occasionally drop our “r’s”. Dangs aren’t real common up here, so I don’t know where I picked it up, but I’m pretty sure it’s here to stay.

You know what else is here to stay? This dang kay-sa-dill-a recipe.


See!? Sorry.


There are a ton of excuses to not cook for yourself, but the most common one I hear is how people don’t have the time. Well, I’m here to tell you if you’ve got twenty minutes, you’ve got enough time to throw together this healthy and satisfying meal.

It starts with a couple cups of corn. Everything else is just going to get pig piled up on top of those kernels, so say see ya later.


Add some black beans you’ve rinsed and drained. I always get a little grossed out when I open up cans of beans – the liquid they’re packed in is anything but appetizing. I avert my eyes, throw the beans in a sieve or colander and just rinse that funk away. Besides looking unappealing, that liquid is where a lot of sodium lives, so getting rid of it also saves us from all that excess salt.


We’re making Popeye proud too – look at that big pile of spinach! Well, okay. It’s really just sort of a smooshed clump right now, but I swear to god there’s a lot of spinach in there. It only looks like that because it was frozen and I had to squeeze out all the water. Whenever I do this, I find it’s easiest to wrap the spinach in a clean dish towel rather than attempting the task with paper towels. Paper will just rip, so we might as well get the right tool for the job.


Camouflage all of those feel-good veggies with some taste-good shredded cheese – two whole cups of it, to be exact. Make sure you leave just a peek of spinach as a reminder of what’s really going on under all that cheesy goodness. I always use the shredded cheese that’s got a dusting of taco seasoning for fun, but any shredded cheese will do ya because we’re about to add some Southwestern flavors!


Slice some green onions for a little zip and add in a can of diced green chilies. I go for mild green chilies since they add really nice flavor that runs throughout this dish without an overwhelming amount of heat. The chilies truly are tame – so much so that even those who can’t stand heat can (and should) stay in the kitchen 🙂


Whoa. That big bowl is a hot mess right about now. All I did was add some cumin, chili powder, salt and hot sauce, but I instantly brought down it’s sex appeal…by a lot. Let’s fix that, shall we?


Okay, she’s ready for her close up! After you’ve mixed up all of your ingredients, you’re ready to assemble your quesadillas. Get a hot pan or griddle ready so you can start sizzlin’!


I was feeling extra healthy, so I went with a flax, oat bran and whole wheat flour tortilla this time. Go for white, wheat – even the funky colored spinach or sundried tomato tortilla if you so choose. Whatever wets your whistle! Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by all the tortilla options though since they only end up playing second fiddle to the delicious, just spicy enough, south of the border veggie filling!

Southwestern Quesadillas

adapted from Cake & Allie
Serves: 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

2 cups frozen corn, thawed
15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry with paper towel
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese
7oz can diced green chiles, drained
4 green onions, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
a couple dashes of your favorite hot sauce (optional)
6 tortillas
cooking spray

Optional Toppings: plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream), avocado, extra hot sauce, salsa

Preheat griddle to 325 or a skillet to medium/medium-high.

In a large bowl mix together corn, beans, spinach, cheese, chiles, onions, cumin, chili powder, salt and hot sauce, if using.

Give the griddle surface a generous spritz of cooking spray. Lay down a couple tortillas and scoop some of your veggie filling onto one half, leaving the other side of the circle empty. Allow the quesadillas to cook a couple minutes on this side so that the veggies warm through and the cheese melts. Then use a spatula to carefully fold the unfilled side of the circle over, closing the quesadilla. Flip over and allow the quesadilla to cook on its other side. Keep flipping every couple minutes until the tortilla is crispy and a beautiful golden brown.

Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling. Should you end up with extra filling, it makes a delicious omelet filling, so save it for a south of the border breakfast! Also, if you want to make these a little heartier, feel free to add some diced or shredded cooked chicken breast.


I think Napoleon would have made himself this quesadilla if he only had the recipe.


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4 thoughts on “Southwestern Quesadillas

  1. Morgan January 23, 2013 at 11:41 am Reply

    To this day, I still mispronounce the dish’s name for the sake of Napoleon. Love that I am not alone is associating the two!

    This version looks seriously delicious. Love the addition of spinach and you can never go wrong with black beans and corn! Yum 🙂

    • Brie January 23, 2013 at 12:04 pm Reply

      A girl after my own heart – heck yeah! These two truly go hand in hand, don’t they?!

      I’m tellin’ ya – I think I could eat these quesadillas every day. The combo of flavors is awesome and they’re seriously so simple to make.

      Let me know if you end up making/like them, lady 🙂

  2. Hannah @ cleaneatingveggiegirl January 24, 2013 at 9:34 pm Reply

    I would never think to add spinach to a Southwestern Quesadilla, but it sounds amazing. What a great recipe! 🙂

    • Brie January 24, 2013 at 10:33 pm Reply

      Hey Hannah – thanks for stopping by! Unfortunately, I can’t take complete credit for that awesome addition of spinach. As noted above, I scored the bones of this recipe from Cake & Allie’s Southwestern Eggrolls. Super smart, right!?

      Transforming the eggrolls into quesadillas is less labor intensive, which works when I’m lazy and/or hungry!

      PS – I’m usually both those things.

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