Black Bean and Corn Quesadillas

There is nothing glamorous about this dish.  Yet I would say next to a fritatta it’s the meal I make the most often.  This is a staple in my home.  Cheap, easy and delicious.

This black bean recipe started out as a side dish from an idea on the back of the can.  It wasn’t great, but then again I was young and in college.  Also it was the beginning of me cooking with black beans.  Really, it was the beginning of me cooking consistently.  I don’t mean I didn’t cook.  I did, but it was pasta with store-bought sauce, mac and cheese (yes the blue box) or various attempts at chicken dishes that were okay and edible, but certainly not adventurous nor really that good.  They were meals I cooked because I didn’t really know how to cook.

Enter into the picture my college roommate’s obsession with the Food Network.  I had never watched it nor understood the point.  But there I was, time after time, coaxed into watching some show with my roommate.  Then it was just me watching the shows.  Now it is the first of three channels I automatically flip to when I turn the television on.  (Comedy Central and the Discovery Channel are the other two.)

Though it sounds corny and whatnot, I credit the Food Network with teaching me how to cook.  I don’t use that many recipes from it anymore (food blogs have taken over for me), but it’s where I figured out how to peel garlic (smashing it with a knife – fun) and dice onions effectively (I shared this technique with my mom a few Thanksgivings ago).  I learned how to cook and chop at the same time (Rachael Ray).  I learned that pasta didn’t need a red or white sauce.  Instead it could be tossed with vegetables, lemon juice and olive oil (Giada).  I learned from my favorite – Alton Brown – the science behind cooking, which is really what helped me make recipes my own.

These quesadillas in 5 years have gone from a side dish (poorly executed, honestly) to burritos (better) to quesadillas, which can be made quickly with things I usually always have on hand, but still are mouthwatering.  So open up those black beans and grab those tortillas that have been in your refrigerator for a few weeks (or is that just me?) and above all, enjoy your food.

Black Bean and Corn Quesadillas

2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (or regular)
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for grill pan or skillet
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can whole green chiles, drained and diced
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
4 ears of fresh corn
2 cups shredded Monterrey jack or colby jack cheese
12-16 small corn tortillas

In a small bowl combine the chili powder, ground cumin, oregano, paprika and salt and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and green chiles to the skillet and saute for 7-8 minutes until they start to brown.  Add the minced garlic and saute another minute.  Add the black beans, hominy and chili powder spice mixture.  Stir to combine and coat the vegetables in the spices.  Cook another 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Heat another skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat.  Take quesadilla and lay it flat on a clean surface.  Sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of cheese onto the tortilla.  Next add a layer of black bean mixture, then sprinkle with another couple of tablespoons of cheese.  Place another tortilla on top.  Place the quesadilla onto the grill pan/skillet.  Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side until the cheese is melted and the tortillas are golden brown.  Remove from the pan and place in a 200-degree oven on a baking sheet to keep warm.  Continue combining and cooking the quesadillas until all the bean mixture is gone.

Once finished, remove the quesadillas from the oven and serve warm.  Garnish with plain yogurt, a lime wedge, some salsa verde and a few pieces of avocado or whatever you prefer.


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