Do you have fun plans for Cinco de Mayo? It’s one of those festive holidays that sneaks up on me, like St. Patrick’s Day, and makes me wish I were a more proactive party planner. Sometimes, I get lucky and my friends use it as an excuse to get together. Other times, I make do with some chips and salsa or a green shirt.
Cinco de Mayo is tomorrow, and if you are the last-minute type like I am, I have a quesadilla for you. It’s golden and crisp on the outside, and stuffed full of (mostly) redeeming ingredients on the inside.
You may associate broccoli rabe with Italian recipes, but it held up well in this Mexican one. I treated it like kale and massaged it with olive oil, lime juice and garlic. Quick refried black beans and some melted cheese round it out.
Broccoli rabe is known for its robust flavor, especially in its raw state. If you’re not wild about raw greens, but want to try broccoli rabe, I recommend my broccoli rabe pesto flatbread, lemony roasted potatoes and broccoli rabe, or broccoli rabe peanut soba noodles. See if you don’t find yourself craving more! Quesadillas await.
Broccoli Rabe and Black Bean Quesadillas
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 15 mins
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 4 quesadillas 1x
- Category: Entree
- Cuisine: Mexican
These hearty quesadillas are stuffed with garlicky, lime-marinated broccoli rabe and refried black beans, so they are lighter than most. If you have any extra marinated broccoli rabe and beans, they are great accompaniments, as are guacamole and salsa verde. Recipe yields 4 quesadillas (each made from 1 tortilla folded in half, for a visual).
Marinated broccoli rabe
- 1 large bunch of broccoli rabe (about 1 pound)
- Small handful of chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons lime juice, to taste
- 1 medium clove garlic, pressed or minced
- Pinch of salt, to taste
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
Refried black beans
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium shallot, chopped, or ⅓ cup chopped red onion
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained, or 1 ½ cups cooked black beans
- ⅓ cup water
- 4 small (8-inch) whole grain tortillas
- 2 cups grated Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese
- Olive oil, for brushing
- Serving suggestions: salsa verde and/or guacamole
- First, prepare the broccoli rabe so it can marinate while you prepare the rest. Pull the broccoli rabe leaves from the stems and discard the stems. Wash and spin dry the leaves. Tear any large leaves into small, bite-sized pieces, then transfer the leaves to a large serving bowl, along with the chopped cilantro.
- In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lime juice, garlic, salt and red pepper flakes. Whisk until blended. Pour the dressing over the leaves and gently massage the dressing into the leaves until they are all lightly coated. Take a little bite, and add more lime juice and salt if you find it too bitter.
- To cook the refried beans: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm the olive oil until shimmering. Add the shallot and salt. Cook, stirring often, until the shallot is tender and turning translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin and chili powder and cook, while stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the drained beans and water. Let the mixture come to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often, and reducing heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer. Remove from heat and mash the beans with a potato masher, pastry cutter or fork until the mixture is thick and spreadable.
- To cook the quesadillas: Spread the bean mixture evenly over each tortilla. Warm a medium-to-large skillet over medium heat. Transfer one tortilla to the warmed skillet and sprinkle about one-fourth of the cheese over the bean mixture. Spread a handful of marinated broccoli rabe leaves over one-half of the tortilla, leaving any large buds in the bowl. Once the cheese is melting, fold the cheesy side over the broccoli rabe. Brush the top of the quesadilla lightly with oil. Once the cheese is fully melted, flip the quesadilla, and brush the top with oil. Let each side cook until golden and crisp, flipping as necessary. Transfer the cooked quesadilla to a plate, and repeat for remaining quesadillas.
- Let the cooked quesadillas rest for a few minutes to set the cheese, then use a pizza cutter or sharp chef’s knife to slice each quesadilla into three wedges. Serve with any remaining marinated broccoli rabe or beans on the side, as well as salsa verde and/or guacamole for dipping.
Make it gluten free: Use gluten-free tortillas!
▸ Nutrition Information
This post was created in partnership with Andy Boy and I received compensation for my participation. Opinions are my own, always. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who support C+K!
I actually really like broccoli rabe – I first had it in Philadelphia as the vegetarian version of a Philly cheesesteak – but I never actually see it in the grocery store. Where do you get it?
Hey Molly! Whole Foods has it sometimes, at least here in Kansas City.
Treating broccoli rabe like kale is my new vegetable goal.
Yum! All I’m seeing are tacos today…might not be able to wait until tomorrow!! :)
What should I substitute for broccoli rabe if my local grocers don’t carry it?
I think kale would work!
I think Broccoli Rabe tastes like turnip greens and have successfully used them to substitute for broccoli rabe.
Yum! I love the inclusion of the broccoli rabe!
Lisa | Garlic + Zest
Only you could health-ify a quesadilla! That said – I think you could tuck anything into a tortilla and I would swoon! Love this!
Haha, thanks Lisa! You’re sweet.
I used to love quesadillas as a kid, and this healthier take on it has just won my heart! Broccoli and black beans are an amazing pair!
Love the creative use of broccoli rabe! I make most of your recipes and they never disappoint, but this one’s a new favorite!
Thank you, Molly! :)
Aimee @ Food Banjo
These look so good. Something healthy to have on Cinco de Mayo! I’ve never had broccoli rabe… well never made it myself, at least. Love the idea of using it like this!
Just made this for dinner and it was amazing! I have never cooked with broccoli rabe and it was a great introduction. I cook your recipes about 4 times a week and I really appreciate that they are so easy to put together. Every recipe we have tried we love, thank you Kate!
Thank you, Emily! So glad you enjoyed this one, too. Yay!
I made these for my bookclub on Cinco de Mayo as directed in your recipe, but I used sautéed Swiss Chard instead of the marinated broccoli rabe and they were delish! I cooked my own black beans and refried them as instructed and put it all in whole wheat tortillas. Everyone loved them and I’ll definitely make this recipe again. I think kale would be great, too.
Thanks, Lisa! So glad you all enjoyed the quesadillas. Your Swiss chard version sounds great!
Jessie @ Chasing Belle
I love all of your recipes that are variations on Mexican fare and are veggie-friendly (of course). They are always so tasty AND healthy! When is your cookbook coming out?? I can’t wait!!
Thank you, Jessie! I don’t have an exact date yet, but it comes out next spring. :)
I live in Singapore, couldn’t find broccoli rabe in a local supermarket. Substituted with kale (had to cook it a little so it wilts). Turned out absolutely amazing, such a great recipe! Thank you!
I’m happy this recipe worked for you, Jenia! Thank you for letting me know!
Good recipe. I sauteed the broccoli rabe though. Sorry, I usually don’t change recipes, I was just trying to tone down the bitterness of the broccoli rabe. Otherwise, I made the whole recipe as directed.
I will make this again.
Thank you, Susan! I’m glad your version turned out well. :)
These are SO full of flavor! I added a little more lime juice as suggested to taste and can’t get over not only how easy these are but also how flavorful. Served topped with guac and salsa with a side of pink lady apples. Fabulous.
Love your blog and all of your recipes. Perfect for our clean, organic, mostly vegetarian way of eating to help manage a chronic illness in the family. Keep it up!
Oh! And I meant to say the extra few squeezes of lime juice was perfect at cutting the bitterness of the rabe. Also, my grocery was out of fresh rabe, so I thawed frozen, gave it a really good squeeze, and it worked great!
Thank you, Claire! I’m so glad you all are enjoying my recipes. :)
These look delicious, simple, and so tasty! Thanks for always sharing great recipes, so much inspiration for me at home!
Thank you, Allie! I appreciate it. :)
Daniel and Megan
My girlfriend and I have made about 20 of your dishes on the site and it’s been epic! This was one of our favorites as well as the spinach enchiladas. We just wanted to let you know that your website has opened up a whole world of cooking and eating that we never knew existed. Thank you so much! We are working out the confidence to be able to cook one of the dishes for a lot of people. I know this is a silly question, but when we want to cook a dish like this for way more people do we multiply the ingredients as well as the cook times? Or just the ingredient portions. Thank you!
Thank you Kate,
Daniel and Megan
Thank you so much for your note, Daniel and Megan! It’s great to hear you two have been enjoying my recipes. That’s a good question about the timing; it will really depend on the recipe. For this one, if you double the beans, you’ll probably just need to use a bigger pot, and they’ll cook at the same rate as indicated in the recipe. Then, since you’re cooking the quesadillas individually (or in pairs), they’ll cook at the same rate as indicated above.
Thanks a lot for you, for valuable post.
These were fabulous Kate! Brocoli rabe just showed up in the market, and I’ve rarely cooked with it. This was an equally approachable and lick-your-fingers delicious recipe. Thanks for sharing :)
Thank you, Brittney! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. :)
This sounds awesome! I love greens and beans together. I added it to my weekly round-up; so, so good!
Really delicious! Best use of rapini ever! And the refried beans were perfect
This recipe was astonishing. I teach school but when I have summertime off, I love to get back to exploring new things in the kitchen. Your blog has inspired me! I’ve made a few others (lemony broccoli sandwiches, anything goes kale salad) which were also big hits. This one really stood out and the whole family loved it. Can’t wait for the cookbook. Thank you!
I could cry I’m so happy to have found your site! I just found out that I’m allergic to wheat AND milk AND eggs so adjusting to a new diet. These recipe ideas look amazing! Thank you!
So happy to have you here, Mani! Let me know how they work out with your new diet. All best on your new journey!
These were wonderful. I used kale as I could not find broccoli rabi.
This is a great and original recipe! What’s also really awesome is that now I know how to make refried black beans! I fry up an egg, put the refried beans on a corn (or flour) tortilla, add cheese, greens, salsa, and Cholula and voila! Best and easiest huevos rancheros ever! I got my friend hooked too. Thanks, Kate!
You’re welcome, Anna Lisa! I’m glad the two of you like it. :)
I am confused. You don’t say how to make the recipe??
Hi Cindy, I’m so sorry for the confusion. I recently made some changes in how my recipes display and somehow a few of them lost their ingredients or instructions along the way. The recipe is back up now.
I would love love to try this recipe but I can’t find any broccoli rabe where I live. DO you have suggestions for substitutes? Just because I’m so eager to try this, I will do so with kale tonight. But besides kale, have you tried this with anything else maybe? :) Thanks!
Hi, Sara! I think broccoli florets would work just as well.
Thank you, I will try that too! Marinating and using the cale was also absolutely amazing for this meal! We loved your kale pizza too btw! Keep up the good work Kate – we love your recipes! :D
Kate I’ve made this twice now, one of my very favorite recipes of yours (which is saying something — you’re my go-to recipe source, and I love everything). Thank you so much for this!!
For any vegans, I added a vegan queso the first time, and tonight just omitted the cheese. PLENTY of flavor with all the other yummy ingredients!!
I love that, Lauren! Thanks for letting me know. :) Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
I made this as part of a Mexican style buffet at a birthday party. They went quickly, and everyone raved about them, even people who claim not to like broccoli rabe. I hope to make it again soon.
Hi Kate! I’m making this recipe with your from scratch black beans (which are out of this world incredible!!). Would you follow the same instructions for the refried black beans if I’m using those given that they already have onions, cumin, etc? Or would you make any adjustments?
Hi Karen! So glad to hear you’re enjoying the black beans! That’s a good question and I’m debating the options myself. Those beans are so flavorful that you could probably just mash up about 1 1/2 cups with some of their cooking liquid and use as is!
These were quick, easy, and delicious!! Can’t wait to make them again
I saw you live in KC. I live in Lenexa. I was curious which store would you recommend for the broccoli rabe? I have not been able to find a good one yet.
Hi! Whole Foods or Sprouts may have it. I haven’t bought it in sometime. It’s a cooler month vegetable so it should be around in the fall. You can always try broccolini or broccoli too.