Black bean and sweet potato quesadillas

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I recently fancied something Mexican inspired for dinner but we were a little bored of the usual options of tacos, fajitas and burritos; as lovely as they all are sometimes you need a bit of a change and this is where this recipe comes in. Quesadillas are toasted tortilla stacks that can be filled with a whole host of ingredients but this is a vegetarian quesadilla recipe. Black beans are often overlooked but are really quite versatile and I find are perfect for a quick recipe like this. The sweet potato is used to balance the earthiness of the beans and the mix of spices whilst adding a lift to the overall flavours. I served this as a dinner but I think it would also be great as a hearty brunch.

In order to be able to use the bean chilli in a quesadilla it needs to be thick and a bit drier than you may usually make it if you were serving it with rice. So trust me and don’t be tempted to add too much stock otherwise it will ooze out of the quesadilla and make a right mess!

Ingredients- serves 2-3
For the bean chilli
1 large sweet potato- peeled
2 tbsp each of ground cumin and ground coriander
1 tbsp chilli powder
1 red onion- finely chopped
2 garlic cloves- grated or finely sliced
1 tbsp tomato puree
250g drained black beans
200ml hot vegetable stock
Dried chilli such as ancho or cascabel- optional
Fresh coriander- chopped
Salt and pepper
8 soft tacos
Cheddar cheese- grated

For the salsa
2 ripe avocados- peeled, stone removed and cubed
1 red onion- finely sliced or chopped
Baby plum tomatoes- finely sliced or chopped
Fresh coriander- chopped
Lime

1. Start by making the chilli. Peel and cut the sweet potato into small pieces; toss with half of each spice and a good glug of olive oil. Roast in a pre- heated oven at 180c/ 160 fan for around 10-15 minutes until tender. Remove from the oven and set aside.

2. Choose a saucepan and add another splash of oil. Gently fry off the onion until softening before adding the garlic and cooking for a further few minutes. Add the remaining spices and cook for another minute. Squeeze in the tomato puree and, again, cook for another minute.

3. Add the drained black beans and sweet potato to the pan and stir well to coat the with the spice mixture. Pour in the majority of the hot stock as well as the dried chilli (if using) and fresh coriander; bring to a simmer. Cover the pan with a lid and cook on the hob for around 15-20 minutes. Pour in the remaining stock if needed and continue to simmer until the chilli reduces down and thickens.

4. As the chilli is finishing off you can make the avocado salsa. Simply prepare the ingredients as per the instructions above and combine in a bowl. Add a squeeze of lime juice and season to taste. You can add a little chilli and some more of the fresh coriander if you like. Cover with clingfilm and keep in the fridge until needed.

5. When you are ready to assemble the tacos, heat a non- stick frying pan over a medium heat. Place a couple of the small tacos into it ready to dry fry. Divide the chilli and spoon some into the centre of the taco; use the spoon to spread it out a little but not all the way to the edges. Sprinkle over some of the grated cheese before placing another of the tacos on top. Use a spatula and gently press down. Dry fry until the bottom is golden; carefully slip it using the spatula and do the same for the other side. Continue until all the tacos and chilli is used. Serve immediately with the avocado salsa.

Black bean and sweet potato quesadillas- a perfect brunch or dinner to please a crowd!

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Spiced halloumi tacos

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Tacos and all things Mexican seem to be having a bit of a moment but they are often meat laden parcels of goodness however sometimes a lighter take on a recipe is much needed so this is where the halloumi taco recipe comes in. Halloumi is one of my favourite cheeses so I’ll use any opportunity to use it in my cooking, Not only is it versatile but is takes on flavour well, so marinade it ahead of time for maximum effect. I served the tacos with a cooling fresh salsa and a warm red pepper and chilli sauce which you can make more of and then use later in the week or freeze for another time. I used smoked chipotle morita chillies but feel free to experiment with different varieties of Mexican chillies to see what you prefer. If using dried chillies then remember to soak them in water in advance before using.

Ingredients- serves 2-3
For the sauce
3 red peppers
Chipotle chilli
1 small red onion
3 garlic cloves
Seasoning

For the salsa
2 small avocados
1 small red onion
Handful of baby plum or plum tomatoes
Lime
Fresh coriander
Seasoning

For the rest
2 blocks of halloumi
1/2 tbsp each of ground cumin, coriander and smoked paprika
1 tbsp olive oil
Soft tacos

1. Start by preheating the oven to 220c/ 200 fan. Lightly brush the red peppers with a little oil and place on a baking tray or rack. Cook until lightly charred and soft. Remove from the oven and set aside until cool enough to handle. Carefully peel the skin and roughly chop the flesh. In a small pan, add a little glug of oil and fry the onion and garlic. Place the peppers and onion mixture into a food processor along with the chilli and whizz into a sauce. Season to taste and set aside.

2. Next you can sort out the halloumi. Simply cut each block into thick finger shapes so they hold together when fried. Combine the ground cumin, coriander and paprika with the oil and toss well to coat the halloumi.

3. For the fresh salsa, simply chop the avocado, onion and tomatoes. Combine and season well. Add a squeeze of lime juice to taste and the fresh coriander. Set aside.

4. Take a non- stick frying pan and heat a glug of oil over a medium heat. When hot, add the halloumi fingers and turn during cooking so each side is golden. Remove from the pan and blot onto kitchen paper to remove any excess oil. Then it is all a matter of assembly! Warm the tacos and arrange them on a serving platter along with the halloumi, salsa and roasted pepper sauce so everyone can help themselves. Serve with some freshly sliced jalapeno chilli and lettuce leaves if you like with a little soured cream on the side.

Halloumi tacos- a lighter take on a Mexican classic!