Sweet Potato Chicken Black Bean Quesadillas

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The other day I made homemade chicken stock, and I was in search of an easy recipe for the super tender pulled chicken I had left over. I found this Rachael Ray recipe for sweet potato chicken black bean quesadillas and it was exactly what I needed. This was one of those 30-minute meals that was (gasp!) actually doable in 30 minutes. Indeed!

I love quesadillas — crunchy tortilla plus melty cheese dipped in guacamole and salsa — yum! This one has some great contrast with the mashed sweet potato (I mixed sauteed jalapeño pepper in for some heat) and black beans, and the melt-in-your-mouth-tender chicken was perfect.

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TW’s Tips

  • I could only find white sweet potatoes — they work just as well as the orange ones.
  • If you like spice, finely chop one jalapeño and saute for a few minutes to soften. Mix with the mashed sweet potato and black beans.
  • For leftovers, I put the fillings in the fridge and make them on the stove fresh instead of trying to cook them all and reheat (which never seems to work out well).
  • I always have a tough time flipping a full tortilla, so i spread filling on one side of a single tortilla, throw in the pan for a minute then flip the uncovered side up to cover the filling (basically fold it in half). Then you can easily flip the half-moon over to get both sides (and it’s great if you’re just cooking for yourself since it makes less).
  • Serve with salsa, guac and sour cream.
  • Cut the quesadilla into slices using a pizza cutter. Easy!

Sweet Potato Chicken Black Bean Quesadillas

Ingredients

  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 15 ounce can black beans
  • 4 10-inch flour tortillas
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
  • 2 cups shredded jack cheese

Directions
In a pot of boiling water, cook the sweet potato until softened, about 10 minutes. Drain and return to pot. Add the beans and mash; spread onto 2 tortillas. Top each with chicken, cheese and a second tortilla; press to flatten. In a skillet, cook each quesadilla over medium-high heat until the cheese is melted, about 4 minutes; flip and cook for about 2 minutes more. Cut into wedges.

Fish Tacos with Jalapeno/Mango Chutney Black Beans

Don’t be scared of fish tacos.

I’d never had a fish taco until I moved to San Diego in 2004. In New Hampshire where I’m from, Mexican food didn’t involve seafood. In fact, Mexican food didn’t include much “Mexican” in general. So my first thought when I heard of fish tacos was, “Weird.”

San Diego is known for its fish tacos — it’s one of our culinary claims to fame — so it wasn’t long before I made the leap and tried one. From then on, I was a believer. For those unfamiliar with fish tacos, they can take many forms — the fish can be grilled, fried or roasted. Tortillas can be corn or flour, hard or soft. The fish is often mahi or wahoo, but can be swordfish or shark, or take a turn for shrimp, lobster, calamari and oyster. Traditional toppings are a cabbage slaw with a tangy white sauce, and lots of hot sauce. But there’s cheese, lettuce, avocado and beans…the combinations are endless. But the overall theme is “delicious.”

A few weeks ago I made this fish taco recipe from Rachael Ray for my friends Mark and Katie. They’re a fun twist on traditional fish tacos. The fish is super simple — just sprinkled with grill seasoning and lime zest and roasted. But kicker #1 is the awesome  decision to use both soft and hard taco shells. And kicker #2 is the awesome-r decision to “glue” the two different taco shells together with a black bean “mash” that includes minced jalapenos, mango chutney, red onion and garlic. You just spread the soft tortilla with a layer of the beans and wrap up the hard shell. Throw in the fish and a delicious cabbage slaw with onion and cilantro and dressed with honey, hot sauce and lime juice, and top with creme fraiche. Absolutely delicious! 

Each bite gives you a great crunch, spice and some sweetness from the beans, tender fish and more crunch from the cabbage, plus the bit of richness and tang from the creme fraiche. It’s a winner.

TW’s Tips

  • Double (or even triple) the bean/jalapeno/chutney filling — I didn’t have enough and had to make another batch for leftovers
  • Any white fish will work for this — I used tilapia but you could do snapper, halibut, mahi, haddock…
  • Mango chutney can be challenging to find. It’s usually either in the Indian food/ethnic section or with the jellies. But I couldn’t find it after hitting a couple of stores so I opted instead for apricot preserves. Whole Foods won’t fail you.
  • Roasting the fish is easy — just make sure you don’t overcook. Take it out and test it periodically.
If you come to San Diego you must have a legit fish taco. The best ones are at South Beach in OB.

My-oh-Mahi! That’s a Good Fish Taco

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 small or medium red onion, 1/4 finely chopped, the remainder thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or grated
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/3 palmful
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup mango chutney
  • 2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • A handful of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/2 medium head of red cabbage, shredded
  • 4 mahi mahi fillets, 6 ounces each
  • 1 tablespoon grill seasoning, such as McCormick’s Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • 8 corn tortilla taco shells (hard shell)
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • 1 cup creme fraiche

Directions

Heat a tablespoon of the oil in a skillet over medium heat and add the jalapeno, finely chopped red onion, and garlic. Cook 3 to 4 minutes, then add the beans and cumin and mash together. Season the beans with salt and pepper and fold in the chutney. Reduce the heat to low to keep warm, stirring now and then to keep them from burning. If the beans dry out before you are ready to use them add a splash of water.

Zest one of the limes and set aside. Combine the juice of both limes, the hot sauce, honey, 2 tablespoons of the canola oil, salt, and pepper with the sliced onions, cilantro and shredded cabbage. Toss to combine.

Heat an outdoor grill to medium or preheat the broiler. Season the fish with the remaining tablespoon of oil, 2 teaspoons of lime zest and the grill seasoning. Cook the fish on the grill with the lid closed or under the broiler for 8 minutes total, until cooked through, turning once.

Crisp the taco shells and blister the tortillas on the grill or in the oven. Glue the softened flour tortillas onto the crisp taco shells with a few spoonfuls of mashed black beans. Fill each tortilla-wrapped taco shell with half a piece of fish, flaked, and top with some cabbage slaw and creme fraiche. Serve 2 tortilla-wrapped tacos per person.