Sweet and spicy black-bean quesadillas | Food | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Sweet and spicy black-bean quesadillas

Fill a tortilla with beans, sweet potatoes, peppers, onion and cheese

click to enlarge Black-bean quesadilla - PHOTO COURTESY OF JES BOGDAN
Photo courtesy of Jes Bogdan
Black-bean quesadilla

Growing up, I had some bizarre eating habits. I drank those little half-and-half cups straight. I took the cheese off pizza. I ate unskinned cucumbers whole without dressing. I had a mistrust of black beans so deep that I’d negotiate horrifically unfair deals with my brother to avoid washing dishes in which they’d been cooked. And I didn’t eat meat — not due to any particular moral backbone, but simply because I thought it was gross; morals came later. 

I’m still a modest meat-eater, but otherwise, my palate’s pretty wide these days. Part of the fun of being a little shithead when it comes to food is that there’s so much to explore when you’re finally ready to step out and try things. It’s been a wild ride, but I still feel bad for all those cheeseless pizzas and black beans that went uneaten. So here’s to making amends: a tasty, veggie quesadilla built on black beans and cheese. 


  • 2 mid-sized sweet potatoes
  • 1-2 16-ounce cans, black beans
  • 1 16-ounce can, corn
  • tortillas
  • ½ red onion
  • 1 bell pepper, red
  • sriracha
  • balsamic glaze
  • olive oil
  • butter
  • pepper-jack cheese


Boil water with salt in a big pot. Chop the taters into one-inch cubes, peeled if you prefer. Heat oil in small pan. Dice onion and pepper, then add to pan and cook on low heat. Boil potatoes until tender, then strain. Mash the potatoes with butter and salt. Drain and rinse the corn. Add black beans (also drained and rinsed), corn, pepper and onion to the mashed potatoes, and mix thoroughly. Add sriracha to taste. Heat a lightly oiled grill pan. Place the tortilla on the grill pan and spread potato mash across one half; sprinkle with cheese, then fold the other half on top and smush lightly so it adheres. Cook at medium heat for two to three minutes, then flip and cook for another two. Remove from pan, drizzle balsamic glaze on top and let sit for a minute or two. Pairs well with hefeweizen or white Belgian beer.

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