Sunday, July 17, 2011

Cannellini Bean Quesadillas with Garlic Scape Pesto

Traditional pesto is composed of basil and pine nuts, but it can be so much more than that, especially with the wonderful options available at the farmer's market right now. Starting from this recipe from Whole Foods, I created a pesto from beautiful garlic scapes that are plentiful at the farmer's market. Pesto most often finds a home as a pasta sauce, but also makes an excellent spread for sandwiches, or these quesadillas I created to find a use for this beautiful pesto (and, to be honest, to use up a few odds and ends in the fridge). I made these quesadillas with beans, but if you're cooking for a carnivore (like my husband), turkey or chicken are also great choices. I love beans because they're delicious, filling, and although prepared dried beans are better, are ready to use right out of the can after a quick rinse, so dinner can be ready in no time at all. The sharp pesto pairs well with the mild and creamy cannellini beans and rich, melty cheese, creating a delicious dish equally suitable for an appetizer or main dish. If you enjoy these quesadillas, try them out with different pestos, beans, and cheeses-the possibilities are endless!

Cannellini Bean Quesadillas with Garlic Scape Pesto
serves 1 to 2

2 tablespoons chopped, toasted walnuts
1 cup chopped garlic scapes
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or walnut oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons water (optional)

2 whole wheat tortillas
1 cup cooked cannellini beans
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella or provolone cheese (or 2 oz. goat cheese)

1. First, make the Garlic Scape Pesto. Pulse together all ingredients (except water) in a food processor, scraping the sides down frequently. If desired, add water, half a tablespoon at a time to achieve desired texture.

2. Meanwhile, heat a panini or sandwich press according to manufacturer's instructions until hot. (Alternatively, heat a well-seasoned ridged grill pan over moderate heat.)

3. Spread 1 to 2 tablespoons garlic scape-walnut pesto on one half of each of the whole wheat tortillas, reserving the rest for another use. Top with half of the cannellini beans and half of the shredded cheese and fold each tortilla in half.

4. Once preheated, spray panini press with olive or canola oil cooking spray. Put quesadillas on press, then pull down top and cook until quesadillas are browned and crisp, cheese is melted, and filling is hot, 3 to 6 minutes. (If using grill pan, put a heavy pan on top of quesadillas and cook, flipping once.) Remove from heat, slice into 2 or 4 wedges and serve warm. 

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