These vegetarian Spinach Pesto and Cheddar Quesadillas are ready in only 20 minutes, for a super fast and kid-friendly dinner.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by the Dairy Farm Families of New England. I was compensated for my time. All opinions expressed here are my own.
Did you know June is National Dairy Month? It is! Follow along on social media for more dairy recipes with #JuneDairyMonth .
This spring spring I went to Boston with Team Dairy New England to Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street for a live cooking demo. We were lead through a professional cooking demo and then a hands-on cooking experience with dairy farmers and other food bloggers on the team.
After the bloggers arrived, and we all enjoyed some fine New England cheeses, we gathered around to observe one of the Milk Street chefs demonstrate how to make a special Peruvian style pesto, tallarines verde, made with spinach to be served with pasta. The chef explained that in the 19th century Italian immigrants settled in Peru and adapted the ingredients they had on hand in Peru to make pesto.
When she started preparing the pesto, she started with onions- so that right there was indication that this was different from the Italian pestos I am familiar with!
It also had an enormous amount of spinach in it instead of basil. And the most noteworthy difference was after it was pureed it was cooked until it was reduced and the raw onion and spinach flavors mellowed. Then the al dente pasta was added and they both cooked some more together to meld. The end result was very mild and interesting, we topped it off with fresh farmer’s cheese and it was divine!
Afterwards, back in Vermont, I was inspired to try using spinach for pesto. So I swapped baby spinach into a more traditional Italian style pesto (no onions or cooking.) Well, actually, I did switch to almonds instead of traditional pine nuts for a milder nut flavor. I used grated hard aged cheese which was an element in the Milk Street recipe, and in traditional Italian pesto.
Once I had the pesto finished, which took less than 10 minutes by the way, I used it to make an easy, satisfying and meatless main course. I spread the spinach pesto over whole-wheat tortillas, topped it with more wilted spinach and shredded sharp cheddar cheese for extra protein, calcium and cheesy tangy cheddar flavor. These quesadillas come in at 17 grams of protein per quesadilla.
Have you ever been to a live cooking demo?
Have you heard of Peruvian Pesto before?
What is your favorite kind of Quesadilla?
These vegetarian Spinach Pesto and Cheddar Quesadillas are ready in only 20 minutes, for a super fast and kid-friendly dinner. #cheese #quesadilla # kidfriendly #quick #vegetarian #pesto
- 1 small clove garlic, peeled
- 2 cups baby spinach (about 2 to 2.5 ounces)
- 3 tablespoons sliced almonds, chopped walnuts or pine nuts
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons grated hard aged Parmesan-style cheese
- 2 tablespoons water
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 cups baby spinach (4 to 5 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons water
- 4 large (10-inch) whole-wheat or gluten-free tortillas
- 1 ½ cups (6 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Make Pesto: Fit food processor with steel blade attachment. Start motor, and drop garlic through the feed tube. Process until the garlic is chopped (it’s okay if it stick to the sides.) Remove lid. Add 2 cups spinach, nuts, 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, Parmesan-style cheese, 2 tablespoons water and salt. Process until pureed, about 10 seconds. Scrape sides and process until smooth, about 20 seconds.
- Make Quesadillas: Combine 4 cups spinach and 2 tablespoons water in a large microwave safe bowl or measuring cup. Cover and microwave until the spinach is wilted, about 3 minutes on high. Carefully remove cover and drain the spinach.
- Lay tortillas on work surface. Spread pesto over half of each tortillas, dividing evenly among the four. Top the pesto with spinach, dividing among the tortillas. Top the spinach with cheddar. Fold tortillas in half.
- Brush 1 teaspoon oil over a griddle. Set quesadillas on the griddle and set over medium heat. Cook until the bottoms are browned and crisped, 4 to 7 minutes. Flip the quesadillas and continue cooking until the other side is browned and the cheddar cheese is melted. Alternatively, to cook in a large skillet: oil a large skillet, add two quesadillas and set over medium-high heat. Cook until the bottom is browned, 6 to 7minutes. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking until the other side is browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce temperature to medium-low and repeat with the remaining two quesadillas, cooking them until brown, about 2 minutes per side. Cut into wedges to serve.
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