Ciao from Italia! At the moment, our life is all about pizza, pasta and tomatoes. It’s amazing but every time I travel, the things I miss most are tacos and mexican-ish food. We made these quesadillas a few weeks ago but I could totally go for one right now!
I often get questions about how to cook eggplant. My favorite and most foolproof method for non-spongy eggplant is to grill it. (If you don’t have an outdoor grill, you can use a grill pan on your stove). I grill mine simply with olive oil, salt and pepper, and a squeeze of lemon or drizzle of balsamic; I then serve it with some arugula or sliced tomatoes.
But I’m in love with this recipe for grilled eggplant quesadillas that comes from my friend Erin (of Naturally Ella)’s new book The Easy Vegetarian Kitchen. The spices are so flavorful and the eggplant bulks up the quesadillas in a meaty-but-not-meaty sort of way.
I know that so many of you are fans of Erin’s as well, so I’m sure lots of you already have her book, but if you don’t, put it on your list. It’s a super handy vegetarian guide to cooking with what you might have available seasonally or on hand. There are 50 base recipes and 3 unique versions of each. So pretty much any vegetarian meal you might want to make, she has a recipe for. Everything is made with whole grains and with fresh seasonal produce in mind.
I modified her quesadilla recipe just a tad. I mixed her spice rub with olive oil and used it as more of a chile sauce to brush onto the eggplant after I grilled it. (This kept my grill pan a little cleaner). I served the remaining sauce on the side of the finished quesadillas… Jack gave this meal two speechless thumbs up. Because that’s how he says “this one is really good” as he stuffs the next quesadilla wedge in his mouth.
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- ½ tablespoon onion powder (I skipped)
- ½ tablespoon Mexican oregano
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon chipotle powder (I used chipotle paste)
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- pinches of salt and pepper
- 2 small eggplant, sliced into ¼ inch pieces
- olive oil, for drizzling
- 1½ - 2 cups shredded Taleggio cheese (I used Jack cheese)
- handful of cilantro
- lime slices, for serving
- 4 whole grain tortillas
- In a small bowl, whisk together all the seasoning ingredients. (I added a few tablespoons of olive oil to this to make it a paste).
- Heat a grill pan to medium heat. Set the eggplant slices on a large plate and drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. Place eggplant on the grill, and cook for about 2 minutes per side, until dark grill marks form. Remove from the grill and generously brush both sides of the eggplant with the adobo paste mixture.
- Assemble quesadillas with the cheese, 3-4 eggplant slices and cilantro. Fold the tortilla over the toppings and grill each side of the quesadilla until the cheese is melted and the tortillas are charred on the outside (about 3 minutes per side). Press down with a spatula to help them along.
- Serve with extra adobo paste, lime slices and fresh cilantro.