Grilled Zucchini, Chioggia Beet and Daiya Pesto Quesadillas

I still can’t get over the fact that I finally found a vegan cheese that I like and that actually melts and is creamy, so naturally I’ve been putting Daiya on everything! And basil galore from the CSA means lots of pesto lately. Put those two things together in between some corn tortillas with some yummy end of summer veggies and you have a super easy weeknight meal, which is even easier if you have a sandwich press or george foreman grill. I have never had one of these but I just moved in with my boyfriend, who has one and it’s so great! It sounds kind of lazy to cook veggies on it but it grilled the zucchini perfectly (works well with eggplant too.) Plus you get those pretty grill marks without having to have a fancy backyard with a grill!

Here’s what I used. This makes about 5/6 quesadillas (I used the Ezekiel Sprouted Corn tortillas which are kind of small though so maybe less if you use bigger ones.)

  • 1 large zucchini, cut into thin 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 medium chioggia beet, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • Daiya cheese (I used the mozzarella one)
  • corn tortillas
  • splash of lemon juice
  • pesto (see my recipe here)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Put the beets in a pot with enough water to cover them and a splash of lemon juice and bring the water to a boil. Bring heat to medium and allow the beets to simmer for about 25 minutes until they’re tender and you can poke them with a fork. Run under some cold water and let them cool off.

While the beets are cooking, combine about 1 tbsp of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Brush both sides of the zucchini slices and put on the grill, turning over once, until they have nice grill marks and are kinda soggy (about 3-4 minutes per side.)

Spread some pesto on a tortilla and layer zucchini, beets and cheese. Fold the quesadilla in half and put it on the grill until the cheese is melted and the tortilla is crispy.

Hummus Arepas

I’ve been thinking about making arepas for a while. One of my fave restaurants in New York is Caracas Arepa bar, and every time I go there, I think, “This can’t be so hard to make!” And living in Bushwick, there’s no lack of corn flour in the bodegas around here. So I bought a bag and decided to finally give it a go. Despite a couple speed bumps along the way, they’re pretty simple to make and turned out better than expected for my first try. And so cheap! A 4.5 pound bag of masa corn flour only costs $2.99. I used good old hummus for the filling, my go-to staple food whenever I’m running low on funds and need something nutritious and filling for the week. To top it off I added some spinach and tomatoes from my favorite veggie market in the neighborhood, Angel’s Fruit Market on Knickerbocker and Willoughby. They have the best and cheapest produce I’ve found so far. So overall, pretty cheap meal!

For the hummus:

  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (I used dry beans, soaked overnight and boiled for about 30min)
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 3 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup warm water (or cooking water from chickpeas if you still have it lying around)

Process everything up and set aside.

For the arepas, I used this recipe for the dough and used this corn masa mix.

What I found was that I should have flattened the balls out more than the recipe called for because I had to cook them in the oven for twice as long and then eventually I realized they weren’t cooking on the inside and had to cut them in half and leave them in the oven another 15 minutes.

Finally, spread some hummus on each side of the arepa, add some fresh spinach and sliced tomoatoes, and eat like a sandwich.

In the end they turned out delicious. I’m even thinking of having a plain one tomorrow with some vegan butter for breakfast!

Yam Sandwiches

I just got over the most horrible flu, so I haven’t felt like making anything too complicated the past couple of days. Sandwiches are always my fallback dinner option when I’m lazy, but I always get into a rut of using the same ingredients. Today, the yams were calling out to me at the vegetable market. This is hands down my new favorite sandwich, it’s amazing! And good comfort food.

  • 1 small yam, thinly sliced
  • a handful of fresh spinach
  • 1 small plum tomato, sliced
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 2 small yellow onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped white mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1/4 tsp siracha chili garlic paste
  • whole wheat bread
  • vegenaise (I use the grapeseed oil kind, it’s so good I could eat it from the jar!)
  • sea salt

-cook yams in olive oil on low heat, turning over halfway through until they’re browned on both sides. At the very end, throw in the garlic and cook another minute

-while the yam is cooking, caramelize the onions  over med-low heat, covered, until they start to brown, stirring occasionally (about 5-7 minutes). Add red wine to deglaze the pan and cook 3 more minutes. Add mushrooms and chili paste and cook another 3-5 minutes until they’re soft

-spread some vegenaise on some bread and add the rest of the veggies however you want! Use the same pan as the yams, and grill the sandwiches on both sides until golden brown.

These ingredients were enough for two sandwiches, maybe more if you use a bigger yam. So yummy, I’m having one for lunch tomorrow too!