Since bananas are abundant in Mexico—the land of quesadillas—a vegetarian plantain quesadilla makes perfect sense.Jump to Recipe
I first fell in love with savory cooked bananas in Central America, and then again in India. What I discovered is that high-fiber plantain (also known as green bananas) is a wonderfully light carbohydrate option.
Plantains are similar to potatoes in terms of starch content, but since bananas are green, they aren’t sweet like a potato. The absence of the sweet taste is what makes plantains feel lighter.
Instead, green bananas are more astringent, which is a cleansing, dry, light, and cooling taste. This sounds like the ideal summer food, right?
Plantain and Gut Health
While dry and cool are welcome qualities, some people will have trouble digesting plantain alone. That’s where the art of Ayurvedic cooking comes in.
To help with the digestion of plantain’s fiber and starch, this recipe incorporates warming garlic, cayenne pepper, radish, and ample leafy greens.
You might have noticed how a typical quesadilla can feel heavy in your stomach. It’s due to difficult-to-digest food combinations of beans, cheese, and meat.
This quesadilla will feel much lighter due to the combination of supportive ingredients, and the absence of offending ingredients.
However, a note of caution. Ensure you cook the plantain well, as undercooked plantain can increase gas and bloat.
Also, ensure that you use the ghee called for in the recipe, (or substitute with another fat), to balance out the strong drying quality of the plantain.
How to Cook
To make this vegetarian quesadilla, you’ll start by chopping the plantain and radish into thin pieces, and the greens into bite-size pieces.
Once the vegetables are ready, you can start cooking the vegetable filling.
You’ll need a medium skillet and some ghee to sauté the plantain and radish until the plantain is soft and breaking apart (about 10 minutes).
Next, add the quick-cooking greens for 2-3 minutes.
Now arrange the tortilla shells on your counter and spread the filling evenly over the bodies.
Meanwhile, heat a large skillet on medium heat and spread a little ghee on it.
Once the skillet’s hot, fold over each tortilla shell, smush it down with the filling, and place the flat side onto the skillet. Cook until lightly browned, turn each quesadilla carefully with a spatula, and cook the second sides.
Serve with a simple sauce of plain yogurt spiked with some chili spices and cumin powder.
PLANTAIN also known as green banana, is starchy, low in sugar, astringent/drying, and cleansing. Get to know plantain as a gluten-free carbohydrate option. Like regular bananas, plantains are high in vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium.
RADISH is light, warming, and a bit bitter. Radishes are powerful. Their intense pungency can make them difficult to digest for some people. However, cooking radishes neutralize most of their difficult nature and bring out an inner sweetness.
SPINACH or ESCAROLE. A quick cooking leafy green such as fresh spinach or escarole is best for the quesadilla, but if you want to use kale, collards, Swiss chard, or another green, just cook it longer.
Tip: Make sure your greens are finely chopped so that when you bite into the quesadilla you don’t pull out all the greens with your teeth.
Recipe for Vegetarian Quesadilla with Plantain, Radish & Spinach
Helpful Kitchen Tools:
for the vegetable filling
- 2 cups plantain (green banana), sliced into thin strips
- 1 cup radish, sliced into thin strips
- 1 cup black beans, (optional)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 6 cups spinach, or escarole, finely chopped
- ½ cup cilantro, chopped
to cook the vegetable filling
- 2 teaspoon ghee, For vegan, sub with olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
for the tortilla
- 6 tortillas(6-inch), (corn, wheat, almond, gluten-free, etc.)
for the dipping sauce
- ½ cup yogurt
- ½ lime, freshly squeezed
- ½ teaspoon sriracha, hot sauce, or chipotle in adobo, finely chopped (see notes)
- pinch cumin powder, (sub with black pepper)
Prepare the vegetable filling
- Slice your plantains and radishes into thin strips, about ¼-inch thick so they cook fast. Wash spinach or escarole if needed, and roughly chop. Set vegetables aside until needed.
Cook the vegetable filling
- Heat ghee in a medium skillet on medium heat. Add garlic and cayenne pepper and sizzle for 30 seconds.
- Add plantain, radish, optional black beans, and salt, and stir well to combine. Cover, and cook until the plantain is soft and starting to break apart (about 10 minutes). Stir occasionally, and add a bit of water to help the plantain cook.
- Add spinach or escarole on top and cook, covered, for 2-3 minutes, until the greens are wilted. Stir well, then turn off the heat.
- Sprinkle chopped cilantro over the vegetables and squeeze in the fresh lime juice.
Assemble and cook the quesadilla
- Place tortilla shells on your counter to assemble. Place filling evenly on each shell and fold over like a half moon.
- Heat a large skillet or flat griddle on medium heat. Spread on a thin layer of ghee. Place quesadillas on the hot surface and cook until golden brown (about 4-5 minutes). Use a spatula to carefully turn each quesadilla, and cook the second side until lightly brown.
Dipping sauce and serve
- While the quesadillas are cooking, mix together the yogurt, lime juice, red chili, and cumin powder to make your dipping sauce.
- Slice the cooked quesadillas into wedges and serve with dipping sauce on the side.