Quesadillas make a quick meal from veggies, leftovers

Alison Ladman
Associated Press

Weeknight cooks love the versatility and ease of quesadillas. Construction is simple — two flour tortillas sandwiched around a bunch of fillings, then skillet toasted — and they can be made with just about any ingredients you have on hand.

In fact, quesadillas are a great way to use up an abundance of produce or any leftovers you have kicking around. The trick is just to make sure that none of the ingredients are watery. Leftover roasted vegetables, for example, should be drained in a mesh strainer before being added to a quesadilla. Watery raw vegetables, such as tomatoes or the zucchini used in this recipe, should be lightly salted and briefly drained.

We’ll even throw the occasional leftover cooked grain into a quesadilla. Cooked quinoa or rice go great with canned beans and some chopped, drained tomatoes. But whatever you do, don’t forget the cheese. It is the glue that holds this delicious dish together. We like cheddar, but Jack or Gouda are nice, too.

Garbanzo, Zucchini and Chicken Quesadilla

1 small zucchini

Kosher salt

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 cup canned chickpeas, drained

Four 10-inch (burrito-size) flour tortillas

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup pitted black olives

1 cup shredded cooked chicken

Salsa, to serve

Guacamole or sour cream, to serve

Use the coarse side of a box grater to shred the zucchini. In a colander, toss the shredded zucchini with a generous sprinkle of salt, then set over the sink to drain.

Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat the cumin seeds until fragrant and toasty, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the vegetable oil, smoked paprika, chili powder and chickpeas. Continue to cook, stirring regularly, until the chickpeas are lightly crispy, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the beans to a bowl and wipe out the pan.

Squeeze out any remaining liquid from the zucchini and pat dry with paper towels. Return the skillet to medium heat. Place a tortilla in the middle of the pan and sprinkle with a quarter of the cheese. Top with half of the zucchini, half the seasoned chickpeas, then half the olives and half the chicken. Sprinkle with another quarter of the cheese, then top with another tortilla. Cook until the bottom tortilla is lightly toasted and the cheese is beginning to melt, about 6 minutes.

Place a dinner plate on the quesadilla and flip the whole pan upside down. Remove the pan and slide the quesadilla off the plate and back into the pan, with the toasted side up. Cook for another 5 minutes, or until all the cheese is melted, everything is hot, and the second? tortilla is toasted. Slide onto a plate and repeat the process with the remaining ingredients. Cut into wedges and serve with salsa and sour cream or guacamole. Serves 4.

Per serving: 530 calories; 24 g fat (9 g saturated fat; 42 percent calories from fat); 50 g carbohydrates; 4 g sugar; 70 mg cholesterol; 1,230 mg sodium; 28 g protein; 6 g fiber.