It can be a challenge to use all of the veggies in your fridge before they go bad. I know it is for me!
This summer, our CSA and garden have been keeping my fridge stocked with fresh veggies. But, even before we were CSA members and had a garden, I couldn’t resist the temptation of all of the brightly colored fresh veggies at the farmer’s market, and I would always stock up on more than I really needed. I hate to waste food, though, so I have been trying really hard to use up everything that we get.
So far, I have been pretty successful. An added bonus is that we have been eating a lot of healthy veggies and I’ve been making many more vegetarian meals than I used to!
One of my favorite ways to use odds and ends of veggies is to make quesadillas. I know that quesadillas are typically made using Mexican flavors and ingredients, but I enjoy playing around with different flavors. This particular recipe has a bit of an Italian/Mediterranean feel to it.
Naturally, this recipe uses the veggies that I had on hand – an Asian eggplant, some really cute assorted bell peppers, and tomatoes. We got these adorable bell peppers in our CSA share this week. I lined them up along my chef’s knife to give you an idea of how little they were.
I also had some fresh cooked diced tomatoes in my fridge. In addition to our garden and CSA tomatoes, I had gotten a half-bushel of tomatoes last weekend from a farm near my mom’s house. After much cooking and freezing, I still had about 1 1/2 cups left in the fridge, so they were put to good use in a spicy tomato sauce.
Speaking of tomatoes, here’s another quick kitchen tip for you…
I recently discovered that my grocery store carries this tomato paste in a squeezable tube – it reminds me of tomato toothpaste. (And yes, I squeeze from the middle of the tube – both with tomato paste and toothpaste… it drives my husband crazy.) I often add a little bit of tomato paste to sauces and dishes, but I hate having to open a can of tomato paste and transfer the remainder of the can to another container that will inevitably be lost in the dark depths of my fridge. With the tube, I can just squeeze out what I want to use and return the tube to the fridge. Easy. It’s a bit more expensive, but considering I usually end up using a whole can of paste when I only want a tablespoon, I think I break even.
You will find that I used some of the tomato paste in the dipping sauce for my quesadillas! This recipe made three large quesadillas that I cut into quarters. You could make more or less by varying the amount of cheese and the amount of stuffing you put in each quesadilla.
Roasted Eggplant and Pepper Quesadillas with Spicy Tomato Sauce
- 1 Asian eggplant, cubed
- 3 small bell peppers, cut into chunks
- 3 cloves garlic, minced, divided
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes (I had fresh, but canned would work, too)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- Pinch (or two) red pepper flakes
- 6 flour tortillas
- 8 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.
Spread the eggplant and bell peppers on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with two cloves of minced garlic, chopped basil, and chopped thyme. Drizzle with olive oil and season with Kosher salt. Use your fingers to mix the ingredients and make sure that they are evenly coated with the olive oil. Roast in the oven for about 25 minutes, turning once. Transfer to a bowl (I could just eat this as-is, but it’s good in the quesadillas, too).
Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, heat a small amount of olive oil (about a teaspoon or so) over medium-low heat. Add the remaining garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook until the garlic is fragrant. Add the diced tomatoes and the tablespoon of tomato paste. Stir to combine all of the ingredients. Simmer while preparing the quesadillas.
To make the quesadillas, preheat a grill pan (or a skillet) over medium heat. Brush lightly with olive oil. Lay a tortilla in the pan, topping with cheese and the eggplant mixture. Top with a second tortilla and use a panini press (or a weighted baking sheet) to press the quesadilla flat against the pan.
Bake the quesadilla for a few minutes on each side, until the cheese has melted and the tortilla is crispy. Transfer the quesadilla to a cutting board and repeat with the remaining ingredients.
Cut the quesadillas into quarters. Serve the quesadilla wedges with warm spicy tomato sauce. Garnish with fresh herbs, if desired.