Andrew and I have the very privileged job this week of dog-sitting Gus, my golden retriever dog-in-law. Also Lucy, the royal cat. This entails house-sitting, too, so when my Pops said he was going to come by, I got to cook him a scrumptious dinner in a nice big kitchen for a change.
As I’ve mentioned before, my Dad has historical vegephobic tendencies, so I take it upon myself to cook him something extra healthy (never sacrificing delicious).
With an obesity exam until 4pm, this had to be a last-minute, 5pm-run-to-the-grocery-store dinner, and couldn’t require excessive preparation. Quesadillas! Quick, crowd-pleasing, adaptable to carnivores!
Another rare occasion: indulgent grocery money. I found an excuse to visit my friend Mark at Whole Foods and discuss produce recommendations. He introduced me to champagne mangoes… oh, you wouldn’t believe them! They have a thin yellow peel, sweet flavor, and buttery texture. They’re hanging out here in front of the avocados and fresh herbs.
I envisioned simple, sweet onion-filled whole-wheat tortillas with a festive fruit salad. If you’ve been reading my posts lately, you know I’m on quite the avocado fix—today was no exception!
First, the guacamole. I typically mash avocado with lime juice, red onions, and cilantro. Today’s inspiration was from Bon Appetit: a simple guacamole with basil, lemon, and shallots. For the recipe, click here! I loved this new combination for basil, and will surely be making this again.
My frequent Vegetarian Times reading introduced me to the idea of using citrus zest & juice to dress fruit salads. Come to think of it, lime zest would have been spectacular to brighten my dish even further. With such ripe pineapple and special mango, I didn’t want to complicate things. A squirt of lime juice and chopped fresh mint was…mmm… just enough to keep things interesting.
With the accompaniments prepared, the quesadillas were about fifteen minutes of prep and assembly. Grilled onions would be divine here, but I stuck them under a high broiler, which was far more accessible in my cooking rush. I brushed sweet onions and red onions with a little bit of olive oil on both sides and flipped them after about 3 minutes until barely charred.
Set these aside in a small bowl to reuse the baking sheets for my quesadillas. Since I had the luxury of purchasing fresh herbs for this evening’s meal, I also treated us to fresh cilantro. To accompany the sweet onions, I chopped up some roasted piquillo peppers (jarred from Trader Joes!), proceeded to slice a valuable finger (impeding my current typing abilities), and also included cilantro and lime juice with shredded Monterey jack cheese. Next time, I’ll add even more cilantro and lime for kick.
As you can tell, these tortillas were so huge, two scarcely fit on a single baking sheet. I decided to fill only half and save myself space in the oven, which I heated to 500 degrees—I hoped to melt the cheese quickly and crisp the tortillas.
I did brush a teeny bit of olive oil on the outside of the tortillas, flipping the halves over after five or so minutes, once the tops were golden brown. You may be envisioning these flimsy flour wraps spilling their contents upon flipping, but whole-wheat tortillas are so hearty, this was no problem. Besides the whole-wheat contributing obvious nutritional value, the quesadillas had such crunch you don’t often find with white flour! Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. And did I mention easily delicious?
Of course, Gus was disappointed we offered my dad the leftovers.
This meal may sound indulgent, and it tasted so for sure. But with minimal cheese, this meal was low in saturated fats and packed with nutrient-dense ingredients. When you’ve got a creative menu filled to the brim with fruits and veggies and, oh yes!, whole grains, you’ve got the flavors for something memorable.