I posted the other day about needing to find uses for some neglected pantry staples, and when I shared on Facebook, too, I picked the brains of a couple of vegetarians I know. One of them recommended black eyed pea tacos. Any excuse to eat anything resembling Mexican food is fine by me.
Tonight, my husband had a work dinner, so it was just me and the two little girls- Baby Squirrel, age 6 1/2, and Baby Turtle, 22 months. He's not often away during dinner, but when he is, I generally go meatless. It's just easy, and a good way to cram more vegetables into my hotdog fiends for children.
One of their favorites is quesadillas. I generally use pinto or Ranch Style beans, a southwestern favorite of mine. You can find a good blog post on making your own Ranch Style beans here.
My pantry inventory had some black eyed peas that needed a culinary home, so I took the taco idea and ran with it, but opted for the quesadilla route instead, per my 6 year old's request.
Quesadillas are super easy to make, but the simplicity can be deceiving. As with a grilled cheese sandwich, you can't rush the goodness. Don't get in a hurry and turn up the heat, or you'll wind up with runny cheese and a blackened tortilla. That's just no fun for anybody. Take your time, and you'll be rewarded.
All you need are:
1 (15 oz.) can black eyed peas, drained (I prepare dried beans, so I used a 2-cup container from my freezer, defrosted and drained)
Chili powder, cumin, garlic granules
About 2 cups shredded cheese (I used a mixture of Kraft mild cheddar and Monterey Jack)
Coconut oil, vegetable oil, or nonstick spray
Sliced pickled jalapeños (optional)
Electric griddle or large skillet
Sour cream (optional)
Sprinkle a little granulated garlic (not garlic salt!), chili powder, and cumin on your drained black eyed peas and mash them a little with a fork.
I stopped buying aerosol nonstick spray a couple of years ago. I use a silicone pastry brush to apply a thin layer of oil as needed. I like Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value brand of coconut oil. I use refined for cooking, and virgin for things like chapped skin.
Coconut oil is sometimes solid and sometimes liquid, depending on the temperature of your home. My kitchen stays a bit warm in the summer, so my jar is liquid right now. I just dip the silicone brush in the jar and schmear it onto my electric griddle. Give it a good lube.
You can also use regular vegetable oil or aerosol nonstick spray, if that's what you have.
You can't have too much cheese. Fine shreds will melt more readily. I like a Colby-Jack or cheddar-Jack blend. Pepper Jack would be good, too, if you're going spicy.
And for the love of cheese, don't buy it pre-shredded!
Plenty of sliced jalapeños for Mama. I like the Cajun Chef brand, which I found in the Ethnic section of my store. They're inexpensive, really good, and sliced more thinly than other brands.
Slap your tortillas onto a preheated griddle or skillet. My griddle has a temperature dial, which I set to 250º (about medium heat). Give them a good sprinkling of cheese and spread out the black eyed peas. Leave a little room at the edges for melting. Add sliced jalapeños, if desired.
Top with a second tortilla if making a whole one, or fold over a single tortilla if feeding a kiddo. Grill slowly until heated through and melted. The tortillas should be spotty golden brown and slightly crispy.
Allow them to rest on a cutting board for a few minutes before slicing up with a pizza cutter. Serve wedges with sour cream for dipping.