Crispy Mushroom, Spinach and Avocado Quesadillas

Crispy mushroom, spinach and avocado quesadillas

Sometimes I miss waiting tables and serving drinks. In my busiest moments at the restaurant, my thoughts were consumed with the tasks at hand. I furiously filled drink orders, slinging ice into shiny glasses and pouring liquor by the count in my head, steady as a metronome. I crossed the patio with three drinks in one hand and a water pitcher in the other. I ran to the back to change a keg and dragged the old one out like I had a million times before. My arms were stronger then.

mushrooms and avocados

There is satisfaction in a hard day’s work. My shifts were filled with smiles and thank you’s and inside jokes with my fellow waitresses in the corner. Each exchange came with instant gratification because I earned a little something for each drink delivered. At the end of the day, I left work with a wad of money in my wallet and kicked my feet up on the coffee table. I went home and I was done.

quesadilla ingredients

Instant gratification is built into blogging, too. I think that’s a significant part of its appeal; clicking publish and receiving near-instant feedback from fellow bloggers and loyal readers is just the best. Your comments, facebook likes and tweets make my day, every day. I also adore the cooking and food photography sides of food blogging—they get me up and moving, chopping vegetables and hopping onto chairs to snap photos. Even though I’m never really “done” at the end of the day when it comes to blogging (there is always more to do), blogging (and all that it encompasses) is what I love to do.

chopped vegetables

Sometimes, especially on days when I’ve been working all day in front of the computer screen, I procrastinate by daydreaming of a more physically active occupation. I think to myself that I’d rather go home physically tired than mentally drained. I wonder if I should quit my day job to waitress again so I could devote more of my thinking time to this blog. Then I remember the necessity of health insurance and stability, and I shudder at the thought of getting splashed with someone else’s dirty dishwasher. Surely some of you can relate?

avocado, spinach, and mushroom quesadillas

Since I’m not going to change my situation in the foreseeable future, I suppose I’ll tell you about these quesadillas. Oh, these quesadillas! Quesadillas are my go-to lazy lunch or dinner for one, but these quesadillas are something special. They’re stuffed with vegetables and greens (and cheese, of course), as well as creamy slices of ripe avocado.

All that said, the quesadilla’s true pièce de résistance is the irresistibly crispy side produced when cheese sizzles between the tortilla and the hot skillet. If your quesadillas or grilled cheese sandwiches have ever leaked cheese out the edge and that cheese has, in effect, fried against the tortilla or bread, you know just how heavenly that super crispy cheese can be. My dad mentioned the other day that my grandmother used to use this method for grilled cheese sandwiches, so I like to think that we both discovered the trick on our own, two generations apart. I’d say the taste preference for crispy cheese must be genetic, but let’s get real: who in her right mind doesn’t like crispy cheese?!

crispy veggie quesadillas

The bottom line here is that these cheesy-crispy-creamy quesadillas would be perfect as Super Bowl finger food, or for tomorrow’s lunch. If you want to change these up with different fillings down the road, I do suggest retaining the avocado in the middle and the crispy, cheesy side. They really take the quesadilla from ordinary to irresistible.

Vegetarian avocado, mushroom and spinach quesadillas

5.0 from 8 reviews
Crispy Mushroom, Spinach and Avocado Quesadillas
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 4
 
Filling vegetarian quesadillas, stuffed with mushrooms, spinach and creamy avocado. These quesadillas feature irresistibly crispy sides. 
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ red onion, chopped
  • salt
  • 8 to 10 ounces cremini mushrooms (AKA baby bellas), thinly sliced
  • 6 ounces baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • ½ small lime, juiced
  • 2½ cups shredded raw Jack or cheddar cheese, divided
  • 2 avocados from Mexico, cut into thin slices
  • 4 medium whole wheat tortillas
  • jarred red salsa
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil until shimmering. Add chopped red onion and a dash of salt, stirring occasionally, until the onions are turning translucent. Add sliced mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and turning golden, about 6 minutes. Add half of the spinach mixture, let it wilt a little, and then add the second. Cook until spinach is wilted and the mixture is dry, 2 to 3 minutes or longer. Season with salt and pepper and a splash of lime juice. Remove from heat.
  2. Divide 1 cup shredded cheese between the 4 quesadillas, covering only half of each tortilla with cheese. Divide the spinach and mushroom mixture evenly on top of the cheese on each quesadilla, then top with avocado slices. Top all of that with 1 cup shredded cheese, divided equally between the 4 quesadillas. Press the empty tortilla halve over the toppings.
  3. Heat a medium to large skillet (preferably cast iron) on the stove over medium heat. Place one quesadilla (or two, if they fit) into the pan. Cook for a few minutes, then flip carefully with a spatula. Immediately sprinkle some of the remaining cheese over the hot sides of the quesadillas, and let it melt as the other side cooks for a few minutes. Flip each quesadilla, and let the cheese sizzle into the quesadilla for a couple of minutes. Flip and cook the other side for a couple more minutes if necessary, until both sides are a nice, crisp golden brown. Let the quesadillas cool on a cutting board for a few minutes, then slice each quesadilla into three slices using a pizza cutter or a very sharp knife. Serve with salsa.

Update 2/5/13: Thank you to all who entered the giveaway! The lucky winner is Vicki. Best of luck in future giveaways.

Disclosure: This sponsored post is part of the Avocados from Mexico – Game Day Sweepstakes. This is a working partnership with Avocados from Mexico and Muy Bueno Cookbook.

Comments

  1. Patt T. says

    I think I just found my dinner for tonight!! These look so good I can’t wait to try them. All the ingredients I love, and I love “fried cheese” (there’s a restaurant I go to nearby that actually has fried cheese on the menu, and a lot of people go in just for that!).

  2. says

    Ah, I can relate to so much of this. The instant gratification of serving, restaurant work in general, food blogging, photography, social media… they all have lasting rewards too. I’ve stepped away from serving a bunch of times, and always find myself missing it. Your body does feel stronger when you’re doing it too!

    Love your avo+quesadilla move too. So great.

    • says

      Sounds like these quesadillas are meant to be! If you have any leftover avocados, I have a ton of other avocado recipes for you on this site.

  3. says

    I have a day job where the gratification is definitely not instant and I think that’s part of why blogging appealed so much to me in the first place. It gives you so many little smiles throughout the day!

  4. says

    What an amazing giveaway! I used to love how much I would run around when I worked in food service. I didn’t notice how much weight I lost then now quickly tacked back on when I switched to blogging and a computer based job. But you are right the instant gratification of feedback is amazing and totally worth it. The crucnchy mushrooms with the creamy avocado sounds to die for!!!

  5. says

    Mmmm these look so good. ALL of your recipes look so good! And yes, sometimes it’s nice to feel simply physically exhausted. It does have that feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction…

  6. says

    I sometimes daydream about doing something more active and people-oriented, like waiting tables, but I too do return to the realities of insurance and steady salaries and all those other grown-up things. Too bad there’s not an easier answer! But these quesadillas probably do a pretty good job of easing the pain! I go through several avocados a week!

  7. says

    Wow, those look super yummy. Not being American, I’ve never watched the Super Bowl in my life. Now that I (temporarily) live in the States, I somehow managed to book a flight for exactly that night, so no Super Bowl again :) Ah well, those quesadillas will be good for any dinner!

  8. says

    Kate – I could have written this. I’m an ex-server gone desk monkey who also blogs about food (and my dog!) and I could not agree more with the instant gratification piece. My blog is still baby fresh, but it brings me so much joy to just write about my day, my life, my food. I hope I can share some of that joy with others, and someday get out of the endless cycle of staring at a computer screen at work all day. Until then, blog away!

  9. says

    Yes, totally relate to the physically tired/mentally tired career dilemma. If only there was a secure career that was a mixture of both! Quesadillas are our go-to lazy meal (that and eggs with toast) – I love the filler combo you chose. I’ll be making these this week!

  10. says

    I sure can relate to the health insurance/stability issue…in a perfect world I’d be home all day making bread and soup (and these quesadillas! they look incredible!) and writing recipes, but at least I can console myself by browsing good blogs on my work breaks!

  11. says

    I must admit, I am somewhat addicted to the instant gratification – it’s so nice! But, I was a barista for ten years, and some days miss it terribly. There was so much movement and feeling of accomplishment. Then again, I don’t miss the stained shirts and smelling like burnt coffee grounds and soup 24-7, either. :)

    Your quesadillas look delicious!

  12. says

    Kate, This looks delicious and I’m so happy to see a non-meat based SuperBowl dish! Hooray. In the interest of full disclosure, I don’t know the first thing about football and I don’t have the patience to actually sit through a game that long– but I’m always up for gatherings with close friends, especially where there’s great food, awesome drinks and wonderful conversation…so a Super Bowl party I will go! With these in tow! (Bad rhyming scheme, sorry!). Best.

    • says

      I feel the same way about football, Batya. I’d love to “watch” the game with you—and by that, I mean, eat, drink and be merry while the game is on!

  13. says

    Your pictures are stunning and the quesadilla looks so good that I am making it for lunch, immediately :) My vegetarian daughter always complains that I don’t pin enough amazing vegetarian foods. I am correcting that with this recipe. Thank you!

  14. Nancy says

    Made these twice last week. They were great! Your recipe was so easy to follow. I love Quesadillas but had never made them.

    • says

      Thanks, Nancy! I’m so glad you enjoyed the quesadillas. I make quesadillas all the time when I’m cooking for one—I just throw in veggies and beans and whatever else I have in the fridge!

    • says

      Good question. Yes, I notified the winner (Vicki) yesterday morning. I will be hosting another big giveaway in a post published later today, if you’d like to enter. Best of luck!

  15. Thess Solis says

    Kate, this is so delicious with a simple ingredients. Really clean eating and I can eat like this everyday. Thanks!

  16. Lisa says

    Great recipe! I love your idea of melting cheese on the outside. These turned out delicious! I also loved your sweet potato and black bean enchilada recipe.

    • says

      Thank you, Lisa! Melting cheese on the outside of quesadillas and grilled cheese sandwiches is one of my favorite little tricks. I’m so glad you’re enjoying my recipes.

  17. Linda Johnston says

    These are SO delicious! I added some diced tomatoes, red bell peppers and black beans to make it a hearty meal. Thanks for the recipe and for your beautiful website – what a great layout of colorful pictures. I’ll be back!

    • says

      Hi Catherine, there is nothing wrong with avocados from California. I love avocados, but I live just as far from California as I do Mexico. The avocado commission of Mexico sponsored this post so I specified their avocados per our agreement.

  18. says

    This comment is many months delayed, but I am absolutely obsessed with these quesadillas. Such an easy, quick meal with flavor and the crispy cheese is completely amazing! Big fan of your blog!

  19. Laurie Lazar says

    Hi Kate,

    I so resonate with the whole waiting tables thing – wow. You really captured it well. Thank you for this recipe. My mouth is salivating, not drooling yet, just salivating.

    Laurie

    • says

      Laurie, I’m sorry for taking a while to get back to you. I’m glad you can relate. Hope you’ll get a chance to try these quesadillas soon.

  20. says

    Ok, 3rd comment, but am just loving your blog: I at least am glad that you are not waiting tables any more as I am sure that we then would have never ‘met’ – but your blog. Fantastic!

  21. Krystal says

    Ok, sorry for the over commenting but this was so delicious! I served it for a get together and everyone was getting involved and having fun. I had the inside made by the time everyone arrived and then just made the quesadillas to order. That cheese on the outside part is PERFECTION–life skill right there! I was totally nervous about doing it but I am now having a hard time imagining making a quesadilla any other way. Thank you! I added a can of black beans and a can of (rinsed and drained) corn to the inside leftovers for tacos the next day…with your salsa of course. Thanks Kate!

    • says

      No no, don’t apologize! I love your comments. So glad you loved the quesadillas! That cheese-on-the-outside trick really takes them to the next level. Try it on your next grilled cheese!

  22. says

    Love your commentary on waiting tables!! I leave waiting and end up coming back because of its wonderful flexibility and the quick money! Its an addictive profession–a blessing and a curse.

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