The Vegetarian


This Mexican dish is quick, easy and great as either a snack or a meal.

1 Tortilla - corn or flour based flat bread
handful of Cheese
    - shredded, 1/2 parmesan, 1/2 mozzarella
1/4 red onion - sliced
2 mushrooms - sliced
2 cherry tomatoes - sliced
1/2 jalapeno chilli - sliced finely
fresh coriander leaves - washed and torn apart

The easiest way to make these, is with a flat-bed toaster/ sandwich press.

Assemble the quesadilla on the toaster. Place the tortilla and arrange the various fillings within it.

Fold the tortilla in half and toast until the cheese melts. Slice into wedges and enjoy.

Of course you can use any filling that you like! This is my favourite filling. The ingredients listed are for a single quesadilla, but don't feel that you need to buy 2 cherry tomatoes to try this. These ingredients are easily used up for other dishes.

I like the 50:50 mixture of shredded parmesan and shredded mozarella. Another cheese which tastes great melted is Edam (Edam is often "vegetarian"... so another bonus).

In the pictured tortilla, I used King Oyster mushrooms, these have a "meatier" texture than regular button mushrooms, and require less cleaning.

Remember to be careful with jalapeno chillies, you may want to chop them up into tiny pieces and sprinkle them rather than having large slices in the dish.

Mexican Chilli Beans

Ingredients (as usual most important ingredients listed first):

1 400g can of borlotti beans
1/2 400g can of diced tomatoes
1 small onion (brown or red) - diced
2 teaspoons of cummin
1 teaspoon of chilli powder
1 teaspoon of paprika
1 jalapeno chilli - sliced
1 red capsicum - diced
1 clove of garlic - sliced and crushed
handful of fresh coriander leaves- washed and torn to pieces
1 tablespoon of besan (chickpea) flour
olive oil

Pan fry the onion and garlic with a teaspoon of oil in a nonstick pan until beginning to brown.

Add the 1/2 can of diced tomatoes, cummin, chilli powder, paprika, red capsicum, jalapeno, and simmer until the tomatoes are breaking up. Add some water if the sauce thickens before the tomatoes break up.

Add the borlotti beans with the liquid (water and salt) in the can. Continue to simmer. Dissolve the besan flour in a quarter cup of water and add to the mixture. (You can add the besan flour without dissolving, this leads to lumps of cooked flour in the final dish which, unlike normal flour, is not disagreeable). Taste test and add salt as necessary.

Continue to simmer until the sauce thickens. Do not stir too vigorously or else the beans will also break up and dissolve. Once the sauce has thickened, remove from heat and stir in the coriander leaves.

Serve in nachos or burritos, or just eat with rice.

 Note: you can also use a couple of diced tomatoes and a tablespoon of tomato paste instead of the canned diced tomatoes.

Vegetarian Nachos with Chilli beans

Mexican chilli bean recipe as above
Nacho chips
Shredded cheese
lettuce - sliced to thin shreds
+/- sour cream
+/- guacamole

In a large bowl arrange the chips so that the chips essentially follow the contour of the bowl - more chips to the sides of the bowl, less in the middle.

Place a large helping of beans in the centre. Top with cheese. Use either the microwave or the oven to heat through until the cheese melts.

Top with lettuce +/- sour cream, +/- guacamole.

Corn Tortillas

These are so easy to make! And made from scratch they don't have any preservatives, emulsifiers or other additives! Why do we buy them pre-made when they are so easy!

2 cups Masa Harina flour

1 1/2 cups Boiling hot water

1 teaspoon of salt

large plastic "ziploc" type sandwich bag

Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Add the hot water and mix and then knead until you form a slightly damp dough. If it is still too sticky add a teaspoon more flour, if it is crumbly add a teaspoon more water. You shouldn't need to adjust it too much.

Cover in cling wrap and rest the dough for 30 minutes.

Find a large plastic sandwich bag or freezer bag (you want the kind of thick plastic you find with ziploc bags). Cut it open so that you can open it into one flat piece of plastic (i.e. cut open two sides). You want to be able to place the dough between the layers of plastic.

Break off small pieces of dough, and roll flat, thin circles between the layers of plastic. Obviously if you actually own a tortilla press this step will be much faster. You want the tortillas to be as thin as possible without breaking.

Heat a heavy flat pan and lightly oil. "Dry fry" each tortilla for only a minute or so on each side until brown and a little crispy. When it sits for a while after cooking it will soften.

I use my flat bed sandwich toaster for this, but the high water content means the tortillas crack if you leave the lid down for too long.

You should be able to find Masa Harina at most continental grocery stores, Bob's red mill is a common brand. Note it is not the same as "corn flour", and not the same as wheat based "tortilla" flour.

Now that you've got the tortillas you can also try turning them into Nacho chips :-)

guacamole ... coming soon

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