This loaded vegetarian quesadilla recipe is one the tastiest around—and it’s packed with veggies! It’s perfect for healthy dinner ideas for kids, and adults too.
This post was created in partnership with Applegate. All opinions are our own.
Alex and I try to avoid the “sneaking veggies” into food philosophy and go the other way: loading them in! And this loaded veggie quesadilla recipe is here to prove it. We designed it as a lunch or healthy dinner idea for kids. But honestly: it’s one of my favorite things we’ve made lately! So let’s just say it extends to all people, no matter your age. It’s full of sweet potato, black beans, spinach, cumin, and garlic, and features a new natural American Colby cheese variety that’s just come on the market. Put it over the top and make our Homemade Spinach Tortillas to up your veggie quotient even more! This quesadilla also works for packing in a healthy kids lunch. Keep reading for the recipe and a bit more about the cheese.
How to make a veggie quesadilla
OK, so maybe you’re thinking why does anyone need a quesadilla recipe? A quesadilla is as simple as putting two tortillas together and adding cheese! We do agree with you there. On the flip side, we eat a lot of those throw-together quesadillas, and there’s not a lot of nuance in flavor. They satisfy, but lack depth. Now I am not exaggerating when I say that this veggie quesadilla recipe is one of the best quesadillas I’ve had! The reason is that it’s flavored very intentionally, and each component adds something special. Here are all the secrets to this loaded veggie quesadilla recipe:
- Cheese: If you’re going to make a standout veggie quesadilla, it’s got to have high quality cheese. We used the American-Style Colby from Applegate’s new Naturals line. Both Alex and I were pleasantly surprised at how well developed the flavor was. It is just the right fit for this quesadilla — we’d recommend trying to find it at your local grocery. While it’s a little non-standard to use cheese slices instead of shredded cheese in a quesadilla, we love how easy it is and that there was no mess on our stovetop! If you prefer shredded cheese, there’s also a shredded variety in Applegate’s Naturals line.
- Sweet Potato: Sweet potato is our new trick to making a supremely delicious veggie quesadilla. Why? Not only does it add a lightly sweet flavor, it makes the entire quesadilla fluffy and gooey without the need of additional cheese. Plus, it’s packed with nutrients.
- Black Beans: No real secrets here, but who doesn’t love the perfect combination of sweet potato and black beans?
- Spinach: Greens are nutrient-dense and undeniably one of the best things for you. This recipe doubles up on spinach, using sauteed spinach in the veggie filling and then spinach in the tortillas themselves! If you have time, making our Homemade Spinach Tortillas is a fun project–especially with kids.
We’d recommend making this veggie quesadilla once and measuring all the quantities so you see the general idea. Then later you can get away without measuring and adding in your own veggie substitutes!
About the cheese
Alex and I created this healthy veggie quesadilla recipe using an American-Style Colby in Applegate’s new Naturals line of cheese. Alex and I are pretty picky about the brands we buy and in terms of sustainability, animal welfare, and overall quality. Applegate recently launched a new natural cheese line, with higher standards for cheese sourcing and production. Here’s more about what this cheese line has to offer:
- Applegate Naturals Sliced and Shredded Cheese is made with a transparent, traceable milk pool sourced from pasture-raised cows on independent farms in the Midwest.
- The cows are humanely raised in small herds on pastures, and are never administered antibiotics or growth hormones.
- The cheese has no added colors, preservatives, or artificial ingredients.
- To ensure traceability and meet the highest possible standards for GMO avoidance, the new cheese line has been third-party verified by The Non-GMO Project.
Where to buy it? Here’s where to buy Applegate Naturals; enter your zip code to find stores.
Looking for more healthy dinner ideas for kids?
This veggie quesadilla recipe is great for healthy dinner ideas for kids (and adults, honestly). It went over very well in our house! If you’re looking for more healthy dinner ideas for kids, see these recipes:
- Vegetable Hummus Tortilla Rollups (vegan)
- Creamy Vegan Tomato Soup with Stars (vegan, gluten free)
- Bliss Bites (vegan, gluten free)
- Loaded Quinoa Tacos (vegan, gluten free)
This recipe is…
This Loaded Veggie Quesadillas recipe is vegetarian.* For gluten free, use corn tortillas.
This loaded veggie quesadilla recipe is one the tastiest around—and it’s packed with veggies! It’s perfect for healthy dinner ideas for kids…and adults.
- Cook the sweet potato: Cook it in an Instant Pot (note that this method requires 4 sweet potatoes to be cooked at once for the timing to be accurate). Or, you can bake it using these baking instructions, or prick holes in it and microwave it on high for 8-10 minutes until tender, turning halfway through. (Do this step in advance and refrigerate the sweet potatoes before cooking the quesadilla; the cook time below does not include this step.)
- Cook the spinach: Roughly chop the spinach. Warm the olive oil in a skillet and add the spinach, garlic powder, cumin, and a pinch of kosher salt. Cook until spinach is wilted and bright green, about 2 minutes, then remove it to a bowl.
- Assemble the tortilla: Cut the sweet potato in half and slide off the skin: place the flesh into a bowl and mash it with a fork. Spread 1/4 cup of the mashed sweet potato onto one tortilla. Drain and rinse the beans, then top the sweet potato with 1/4 cup of the black beans. Sprinkle sweet potatoes and black beans with a pinch of kosher salt. Then top with sprinkles of the cooked spinach (use your hands and leave any liquid at the bottom of the bowl). Top with 2 slices of cheese, tearing it as necessary to fit onto the tortilla. Cover with the second tortilla. Then repeat these instructions for the second quesadilla.
- Lightly coat a skillet with olive oil and heat it to medium heat. Place one quesadilla in the pan, cheese side down. Cook for 2 minutes per side until lightly browned and the cheese is melted. Cut into wedges and serve. (Note: For lunch boxes, you can keep the quesadilla wedges refrigerated for a few days and place them into lunch boxes each morning.)
*Note: This cheese is made with rennet, which is not fully vegetarian. If you are a strict vegetarian, look for a vegetarian cheese.
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: Quesadilla, Veggie Quesadilla, Healthy Quesadilla, Quesadilla Recipe, Sweet Potato, Black Beans, Spinach Quesadilla, Sweet Potato Quesadilla
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.