Meatless Monday: Spicy Yam Quesadillas

This entry was posted on May 15, 2017 by Charlotte Bell.

Spicy Yam QuesadillasWhen I was a kid, grilled cheese was my favorite meal. I never liked meat, so it was always a relief when my mother would serve the traditional grilled cheese and tomato soup lunch. It meant no bologna, salami or braunschweiger (you don’t want to know), at least for a day.

I still indulge in a grilled cheese sandwich every once in a while, but I really enjoy the much less cheesy Mexican version—quesadillas. I don’t eat much cheese. When I do it’s sheep or goat cheese. Quesadillas need only a small amount of cheese, just enough to hold the filling together. You could probably get away with not using cheese at all if you prefer not to have it. But since “cheese”—“queso”—is actually a part of the name, I felt obliged.

This recipe makes a lot of filling. You can easily cut it in half if you want to make this recipe for two. (A food processor makes quick work of grating the yams, and it saves your hands and fingers too.) I plan to use the excess filling to make sweet potato pancakes. If it works out well, I’ll let you know in next week’s post.

You will need two large (10-inch) skillets for this recipe, one to cook the filling and another to cook the quesadillas.

I altered this recipe slightly, but the base of it comes from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home from the Moosewood Collective.

Meatless Monday: Spicy Yam Quesadillas

  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cups grated, peeled yams (about 3 yams)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • salt and black pepper, optional
  • pinch of cayenne pepper, optional
  • 1 cup grated cheese (I used a sheep gouda cheese.)
  • 8 tortillas (8- to 10-inch)
  1. Sauté the onions and garlic in the coconut and olive oil until the onions are translucent.
  2. Add the grated yams, oregano, chili powder and cumin and a few tablespoons of water. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.
  3. When the yams are tender, add salt and pepper to taste and remove the filling from the heat.
  4. Lightly oil a 10-inch skillet and heat on the stove on medium heat.
  5. Spread a few spoonfuls of the filling on half the tortilla so that the filling is in a semicircle about 1/2-inch thick, and there’s a 1/2-inch border between the filling and the edge of the tortilla.
  6. Sprinkle a tablespoon or two of cheese on the filling.
  7. Fold the empty half of the tortilla over and place the folded tortilla in the skillet. Cook each side for 1-2 minutes until lightly browned on the outside.
  8. Remove with a metal spatula. As you cook your second and third quesadillas and beyond, you may want to check them a little earlier to prevent burning.
  9. Cut into pie slices and enjoy!
  10. I served the quesadillas with a kale, quinoa and pepita salad from Liberty Heights Fresh in Salt Lake City, but any fresh green salad would make a nice accompaniment.
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About Charlotte Bell
Charlotte Bell discovered yoga in 1982 and began teaching in 1986. Charlotte is the author of Mindful Yoga, Mindful Life: A Guide for Everyday Practice and Yoga for Meditators, both published by Rodmell Press. Her third book is titled Hip-Healthy Asana: The Yoga Practitioner’s Guide to Protecting the Hips and Avoiding SI Joint Pain (Shambhala Publications). She writes a monthly column for CATALYST Magazine and serves as editor for Yoga U Online. Charlotte is a founding board member for GreenTREE Yoga, a non-profit that brings yoga to underserved populations. A lifelong musician, Charlotte plays oboe and English horn in the Salt Lake Symphony and folk sextet Red Rock Rondo, whose DVD won two Emmy awards in 2010.