Dinnertime right now is a game of how fast can I get dinner on the table with enough vegetables tucked inside—because, have I gotten enough vegetables today?— before the baby wakes up. It’s also a game of how can I accessorize the same simple meal I’ve made a thousand times over the last couple of months into something new-ish. Just like adding a necklace to the same chambray dress, slaw can somehow dress up the same old same old quesadilla into something oh-my-gosh good. That and swapping your regular quesadilla cheese for something smoky and spicy. Tonight, I won with these Chipotle Kale Slaw Quesadillas.
Birthed from a nearly empty fridge, from a leftover pile of prepped kale, a hunk of cabbage, a couple carrots, from a block of Roth Chipotle Havarti and tortillas from the freezer, and a tiny spoon of chipotle puree, these Chipotle Kale Slaw Quesadillas were shockingly good. I mean, I always hope dinner will be good, but when you’re throwing together yet another quesadilla, a quesadilla made from the last bits of the fridge, well, it’s good to keep your expectations low. Or maybe not. What is it they say? Necessity is the mother of invention.
If you’re like me, you’re an expert quesadilla maker based on the sheer number you’ve made. You need no tips. But I’m going to give you some as long as you promise to tell me yours. First things first, do a quick smash of your beans. They’ll act as glue, much like the melty cheese, and won’t fall out. Beans are also an inexpensive protein, which we’re leaning on extra these days. While you’re at it, add a splash of vinegar and a little red onion for quick flavor.
Second, accidentally and generously sprinkle cheese off the edges of the tortilla for crispy cheese bites. Finally, forget what your mom told you. It isn’t only about what’s on the inside that counts. The top of the quesadilla is precious square footage for things like slaw. Just leave a little thumb space for holding.
May the hardy remnants of your fridge exceed your expectations. May the Chipotle Kale Slaw be the necklace to accessorize the same old same old quesadilla. And may dinner get to the table before the baby wakes. Amen.
This Chipotle Kale Slaw was born from the hardy remnants of the fridge and is best on everything, like quesadillas with Chipotle Harvarti and smashed black beans. Also good on burgers (veggie or meat) and chicken sandwiches.
Make the slaw. Prepare the kale, cabbage, and carrot. This is my favorite cheese and vegetable shredder. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mayo, honey, chipotle puree, and salt until evenly combined. Add in the prepared vegetables and toss to evenly coat. Set aside for about 10 minutes to allow the flavors to develop. This can be made a day in advance.
Mash the beans. Add all the bean ingredients to a small bowl and mash with the back of a fork. Set aside.
Make the quesadilla. To a cast iron skillet, or something similar, heat over medium. Grate the Roth Chipotle Havarti. Lightly spray or drizzle oil on the warmed skillet before adding a tortilla. Spread 1/2 of the bean mixture (about 1/4 cup) evenly over the tortilla. Top with 1/2 of the cheese (about 1/2 cup) and cover with a tortilla. Cook until the cheese is melted and the tortilla is crisped, flipping halfway through. Remove to a cutting board and cook the additional quesadilla.
To serve, cut into wedges and top with slaw.
Prep ahead: I always keep chipotle puree in the fridge, which is just a can of chipotles in adobo pureed into a smooth pile of heat. It’ll keep indefinitely. At the ready, a little plop in a recipe adds so much flavor! We often prep a batch of kale at the start of the week and toss it into meals. Here’s my method.