Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Kale and sweet potato quesadillas: a recipe and some notes

Sweet potato and kale quesadillas
I have a problem.

My name is Jules, and I'm addicted to my panini press.

Seriously, I press the crap out of practically everything, breakfast, lunch or dinner. I'm even using it as a half-assed toaster, now that I've given up on toasters (they never work properly) and whenever I don't feel like turning on my oven broiler.

(Note: The press is less-than-great for frozen waffles but hey, I'm not that picky in the morning.)

Recently I realized, in my panini press zeal, that it would make an ideal quesadilla machine!

(Note: If I'm late to this party and you are saying to yourself, "Duh, girl, who doesn't know that?", please just keep it to yourself and let me have my moment. Thanks.)

Now, I have always made quesadillas the way I first learned: in a frying pan, folded over like an omelet. It works fine. But this just seemed too awesome, even if only for one superficial reason: grill marks!

So I nearly squealed with delight when, shortly after this revelation, Kiersten at Oh My Veggies (formerly The Type A Housewife) posted a recipe for vegan kale and sweet potato quesadillas -- which she went on to describe as not really quesadillas at all, given the lack of cheese. But no bother -- it was inspiration enough.

(Note: I'm not even close to a vegan or vegetarian, but it's good to have a few meatless meals every week. Thanks, Kiersten!)

These quesadillas make a quick weeknight meal or a nice hot lunch: your choice. And I consider them a one-dish dinner, given the sweet potatoes, kale and black beans. You could add some leftover chicken in addition to or in place of the beans, as well. Go ahead, mix it up.

(Note: Panini press buying advice. I bought a fairly small one, so I can only make two small sandwiches or one quesadilla at a time. This is not cool for more than two people, so if you have a bigger family, opt for a larger press.)

(Last note: You can make these in a George Foreman Grill, too. I'm sure somebody in your family has one of those lying around somewhere.)

Kale and Sweet Potato Quesadillas (inspired by Oh My Veggies)
Makes 3-4 quesadillas, depending on amount of filling in each

1 large sweet potato, cooked, skinned and slightly mashed up (I just microwave mine for about 8 minutes in the skin)
5-6 large kale leaves, stems removed and coarsely chopped
1 small onion
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
Grated Gruyere cheese
Whole wheat tortillas

Preheat your panini press.

In a pan, heat some olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until slightly softened, about 4 minutes. Add the chopped kale and cook until tender, about another 4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper; set aside.

Lay a tortilla flat on a work surface. On one half, spread a little of the grated cheese, followed by a few spoonfuls of sweet potato. Top this with some of the sauteed kale mixture, a sprinkling of black beans and some additional grated cheese (again, all these amounts should be to your taste).

Fold the unused portion of the tortilla over to make a half moon. Carefully place this half moon in your panini press and press until cheese begins to ooze out and it's got those awesome grill marks on the top. Cut into triangles and serve.

Repeat as necessary -- or use a big-ass panini press.


  1. Recommendations for brand of press? I might have to break my no more kitchen clutter rule!

  2. Gruyere! I tried making these again with cheddar and it was not a good combo at all--next time I am going to try gruyere, which goes much better with sweet potatoes. Thanks again for the shout-out. :D And yes, I use my panini press for quesadillas too. And, well, everything. Sometimes I forget that most people make these things in a skillet!

  3. Julia: I have a Cuisinart and am pleased with it (have a few of their other standalone products as well) -- but honestly the choice was made because I had one of those 20% off Bed Bath & Beyond coupons, that's all! If you don't have a griddle already, Cuisinart makes a cool product that is both griddle and panini press that I think looks handy: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002YD99Y4/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=adveofthekitc-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B002YD99Y4

  4. Oh Yum!!! This looks delish! Must try it! Thanks for posting! I'm really going to start eating like this more often, it looks so much healthier than the way I've been eating. :-)

  5. I've been wondering if I need a pannini press. I guess the answer is yes.

  6. @Alexandra: enjoy! I hope you can find some other recipes here that will work for you, as well.

  7. @Pam: Yes. The answer is yes. Break out one of those coupons!

  8. It never dawned on me to use my panini press to make quesadillas. I can't wait to try it!!

  9. I know, Kleiner, right? WHY did we not see the beauty of this before? And you know you ARE the reason I even own one!