Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Orange and Black Quesadillas

A very (very!) belated but heartfelt Happy Diwali to all who celebrated it last week. Our Diwali was a quiet affair with a few glowing tea-lights and feasting on the abundant homemade Diwali faraal sent by my parents all the way from India- besan ladoo, rava ladoo, two types of chivda, spicy sev, bakarwadi, sweet shankarpale and savory shankarpale.

The other festival of last week was Halloween, the unofficial kick-off to the holiday season here in North America. This Fall, Lila moved from Montessori preschool to the pre-Kindergarten class of our local public elementary school- and in her new school, they celebrate Book Day instead of Halloween. Students come dressed as their favorite book characters and parade around the neighborhood. Parents and grandparents come to school as special guests to read stories to the kids and there are book-related activities all day. Lila wanted to go as queen Elsa and to counter my argument about this being a movie costume and decidedly not a book costume, she triumphantly found two Frozen themed Disney books in the library. Thank you, pervasive Disney merchandising. But I insisted that she look through her book collection for another costume idea and in the end she happily went dressed as the piglet Olivia.

I thought the book day celebrations were fun and a great way to promote the joys of reading. Lila's very interested in reading and writing these days and feels confident enough to teach the little one. I overheard her saying, "Baby brother, this is how you write 'apple'- A-P-O-L".

Halloween came with two costume parties- one at a friend's house and one at our neighborhood just before the kids went trick or treating. Miss Lila did get to wear her beloved princess costumes to these parties. One of the neighbors was passing out candy to the kids and wine to the parents ---- and this is how you know you live in an awesome neighborhood.

Both the Halloween parties were potlucks and I streamlined the shopping and prep by taking the same exact dish to both events- an appropriately orange and black food- sweet potato and black bean quesadillas. Both times the dish was polished off in minutes, so I am filing this one away for all future Halloween gatherings.

A few notes on the recipe- I was very short on time, so I reached into the pantry for canned beans. But of course, soaked and pressure cooked black beans would work well. The sweet potatoes can be cooked using any method- again I used the microwave oven for speed and ease. Cilantro would be wonderful in the filling but it is a polarizing ingredient, so I opted for green onions. Some of my friends eat a gluten-free diet, so I chose corn tortillas that were labeled gluten-free. Wheat tortillas would work just as well. But the compact size of corn tortillas is just perfect for a potluck table.

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Quesadillas

1. Wash 3-4 sweet potatoes and pierce them several times with a fork. Cut each in half and microwave until tender, turning once half-way through cooking. Let the sweet potatoes cool down, then peel them and cut into medium dice.

2. Drain and rinse 2 cans of black beans.

3. Grate 2-3 cups of cheese- I used a combination of pepper jack and sharp cheddar.

4. Finely chop 1 bunch of green onions.

5. Mix all these ingredients in a large bowl and season with salt, smoked paprika, chili powder, dried oregano and ground cumin.

6. Place 2-3 tablespoons of filling on one half of a corn tortilla, fold in half and cook the quesadilla, using a little oil, on a cast iron pan until browned.

The second time, I made a large batch of these quesadillas all at once by placing them on baking sheets, spraying oil on both sides and baking at 375 until toasty.

I made a quick dipping sauce by mixing together sour cream, jarred salsa and salt. But the quesadillas are tasty enough on their own.

What are you cooking these days?


  1. Nupur,V and Miss Lila, I know I am inexcusably late in congratulating you all on the arrival of Niam. I send my love and blessings to all of you. You lucky people, enjoying Divali faral sent by your parents! And the Quesadillas look delicious and no wonder they disappeared so quick. I made the usual faral items and enjoyed Divali with family and friends.

  2. Nupur,

    Your Halloween Quesadillas look lovely. How lucky you are to get a lovely Diwali care package from your parents. I hope I would do something like this for my kids when they are all grown up to make them feel warm and fuzzy :)

    I made two types of murukku, my most favorite thing for Diwali and one customary sweet which was mysorepak this time.

    My daily cooking is revolving around including whole grains like barley and quinoa more in our daily diet. I made a barley fried rice with tofu/edmame/kale/spring onions/onions and some seasonings. It tasted awesome, a lot like brown rice. I made quinoa kichadi with chana dal/carrots/peas cooked together in the pressure cooker. Then seasoned with the regular tadka/onions/tomatoes and sambar powder with some coconut gratings. It was pretty good too. Quinoa yogurt rice is a regular fare in my kitchen. I also tried barley idli/dosa. The results were okay.

    The standard fried rice and kichadi type recipes work best in my kitchen for these whole grains as they are fast and you can vary them with lots of different veges and beans.

    I would love to see some ideas from you when you find some time away from Lila and baby Niam.


  3. The color-names in the post title made me LOL - an offside thought ... just reflecting the political landscape today

    1. LOL I thought the same too!! The post is a tribute to the elections ;)

    2. I assure you it was written a week before the elections- took a whole week to post! I have no tributes for this election, only deep dismay :(

  4. I LOVE the book day idea. How wonderful that your daughter is in a public school with fun creative ideas!

    1. Angela- Yes- we feel very lucky to have her in this school. They have arts, music, PE, lots of emphasis on reading.

  5. here after absolute ages and congratulations on the new baby!

  6. I love everything about this dish and these photos are just gorgeous!
    Prachi Gupta

  7. Hello, my name is Hannah. I am currently doing an exploratory project, researching India and I have a few questions! First, can you tell me more about Diwali? Have you celebrated this holiday all your life?


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