I am always on the lookout for new, healthy vegan recipes and just lately-
I have been so inspired, by just about everything!
Between my Vegan life magazines, Instagram, favourite vegan websites and my cook book collection, I am literally spoilt for choice. But it can also be overwhelming to know where to begin, so I have recently challenged myself to create and experiment a little more in the kitchen, rather than sticking with my same old favourites.
After a miserable few days, an evening in with my Husband, sparked one of my favourite ways to spend time together- cooking. Walking around the supermarket, we gravitated towards our old safe options, and then right there in the middle of the shopping aisles, phone in hand, I started searching for inspiration – I scrolled through my ‘saved’ recipes on Instagram knowing there would be plenty of ideas. We decided to go for a twist on Elavegan’s vegan spinach and aubergine quesadillas!
I love Mexican meals, they are so easy to make vegan and I love Mexican spices and vibrant colourful food. Quesadillas are perfect because they are quick and easy, and you can jam pack them with flavour and healthy veggies. You can use whatever filling you like; beans, aubergine, potato, vegan cheese, chillies- whatever you want, or whatever you have at home.
Quesadillas are usually thin and are made with a tortilla in a pan, with the filling added into the middle- folded up, flipped (precariously!) and served fresh! We decided to use more layers- four instead of two, so we used a sping form pan to support it whilst cooking, and oven baked for about 15 minutes.
We were also excited to try making our own vegan white sauce, which has been on our ‘to do’ list for ages. We found a simple recipe and knew we could tweak it as we went, to get the right consistency. So back on the supermarket shelf, went the £2.50 jar of vegan white sauce and instead we added some sauce flour and coconut milk to our shopping trolley, to team up with some cupboard staples we had at home.
In our quesadillas we decided to use a different selection of veggies instead of aubergine. I am a huge fan of spinach, and in meals like this, it is a perfect filling choice- and great to give you an extra hit of vitamins. We also had a beautiful courgette to use up and a red pepper to add a little colour and pop. Lately, I have been using B12 enriched chestnut mushrooms, so we thought we would throw them in too.
We teamed our quesadilla with some crunchy lime tortilla chips served with spicy salsa, and some refried beans- just to deliver even more of a Mexican flavour punch!
I think these quesadillas were best eaten straight away, although we did save half for lunch the next day. We ate our leftovers cold, and while they were still yummy, it did lack the crispy edges that I loved so much when eaten straight out of the oven. If you prepared the filling in advance, it would be a very quick meal to throw together and that is something to bear in mind, if ever particularly tight on time.
These quesadillas would make a great meal for vegan friends, or served at a dinner party, teamed with more Mexican sides – you could have a delicious Mexican feast on your hands! We served it with refried beans, but I also think many different Mexican sides would work, especially with some good sauces. My immediate thought is of guacamole to accompany but also, hummus or a garlic sauce would highlight the flavours really well.
It is a crowd-pleasing dish, and has the wow factor, when you pop it out of the springform pan with all those beautiful layers. And bonus, it is easy to make.
So eyes down, look in- its recipe time!
Vegan Spinach Quesadillas
For the Filling:
- 4-6 tortillas
- 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 large courgette, grated
- Fresh spinach (170g), roughly chopped
- Red pepper, chopped into small cubes
- Chestnut mushrooms, chopped into small cubes
- A good glug of rapeseed oil (1tbsp)
- Spice mix: (1 tsp) paprika, (1 tsp) cumin powder, (1 tsp) smoked paprika, (½ tsp) mild chilli powder, pink himalayan salt and pepper to taste.
- 1 batch vegan cheese sauce (recipe below)
- Heat a good glug of rapeseed oil in a pan, add garlic and fry over medium heat for about 1-2 minutes.
- Add the red pepper, and heat for a further 2-4 minutes.
- Add the mushrooms, grated courgette, all the spices and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Stir frequently.
- Add spinach, stir, and cook for a further minute or two. Season with Salt & Pepper. Turn off the heat.
For the White Sauce:
- ½ can of coconut milk (if the cheese sauce turns out too thick, just add more coconut milk)
- 3 tbsp of nutritional yeast flakes
- 2 tbsp of sauce flour (add more- a little at a time- if you need to thicken the sauce)
- 1/2 tsp pink himalayan salt (or to taste)
- Pinch of paprika
- Put all the ingredients into a saucepan, slowly combining as you go.
- Once everything is combined, heat gently and bring the mixture to a boil whilst stirring constantly.
- Let the sauce simmer on a low to medium heat for a couple of minutes, until the sauce is stretchy or the correct consistency.
- Grease a springform pan, we used rapeseed oil and brushed it on.
- Place a tortilla in the bottom of the pan, letting the edges, slide up on the pan.
- In the middle, leaving a small gap around the edges, add a thin layer of the filling mixture.
- Add a few heaped spoonfuls of the vegan white sauce and spread lightly directly on top of the filling.
- Add another layer of tortilla.
- Repeat the layers, until you are happy, we did four.
- Pop in the oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes- until its golden and crispy.
- Serve and enjoy!
Please do give this Mexican beauty a go and try your own flavour combos too. It is so adaptable to different diets or just go with what you have left in the cupboard at home.
If you give it ago, let me know!