Monday, October 18, 2010

sunday - quesadillas with pinto beans and kale, red lentil soup with lemon

Quesadillas are such a great comfort food. I did amp up the nutritional value in these by adding kale and pinto beans to the requisite flour tortilla and cheese, with great results--these were delicious, and would have been even better with a dollop of sour cream if you happen to have any. You could also use whole wheat tortillas, but I eat them so rarely that I went with traditional white flour tortillas.

I also served a red lentil soup from Orangette (who in turn adapted the recipe from Melissa Clark's In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite). At first I was concerned that the soup was going to be a bit bland, as most of the ingredients are pretty unassuming. I was pleasantly surprised, though--it ended up being delicious. The lemon gave it a nice zing, and it was a lovely, warm autumn soup that paired well with the quesadillas.

Quesadillas with Pinto Beans and Kale

1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 Anaheim chile, seeded and chopped (or other mild green chile)
3/4 cup cooked pinto beans (or about 1/2 of a 15-ounce can, rinsed)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 kale leaves (stems removed), chopped
2 flour tortillas
1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and chile, and cook until onion is translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add beans, cilantro, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper, and stir until beans are heated through, about 2 minutes. Add kale, cover, and cook until kale is wilted, about 3 minutes. Uncover, and stir until mixture is combined and kale is tender. Adjust seasoning as needed. Transfer bean-kale mixture to a small bowl, and wipe out skillet with a paper towel.

Place one tortilla in skillet over medium heat. Spread half of bean-kale mixture over half of the tortilla, and sprinkle with half of the cheese. Fold the tortilla in half over the bean-kale mixture, and cook until the quesadilla is golden on bottom and cheese begins to melt. Carefully flip the quesadilla over and cook until the other side is golden. Repeat with remaining tortilla, bean-kale mixture, and cheese. Cut quesadillas into wedges before serving.

Makes 2 servings.

Red Lentil Soup with Lemon

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional oil for drizzling
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper, or more to taste
1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup red lentils, picked through for stones and debris
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
Juice of 1/2 lemon, or more to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a large pot, warm the oil over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering. Add the onion, and cook until golden, about 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic, tomato paste, cumin, salt, pepper, and cayenne, and cook for 2 minutes longer. Add the broth, 2 cups water, lentils, and carrot. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover the pot and reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Continue to cook until the lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Taste, and adjust seasonings if necessary. Using an immersion or regular blender, puree about half of the soup. It should still be somewhat chunky, not completely smooth. Reheat if necessary, then stir in the lemon juice and cilantro. Serve the soup drizzled with good olive oil and dusted very lightly with cayenne, if desired.

Makes 4 to 5 servings.

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