Toasty quesadillas are filled with roasted pumpkin, spinach, grilled onions and mushrooms, drizzled with a spiced-up cashew cream. This savory pumpkin dish is so good you’ll almost forget about pie. Almost.
Hello friends! How are you all doing? Did everyone survive the Halloween treat fest?? I realized when looking through my recent posts, that it’s been quite some time since I posted anything outside of the “sweet treat” category. In fact it’s been three weeks since I posted a savory dish! It’s so hard to think savory when my mind is all wrapped up in sweet, pumpkin-y cookie dough, milkshakes, and caramel dip, however it’s time to restore some balance around here.
I can’t think of a more delicious way to restore the sweet-savory balance, than by sharing these lightly spiced, roasty toasty pumpkin quesadillas. In my pre- plant-based days, I thought quesadillas were flat, smushed together tortillas filled with gloopy cheese and maybe a sprinkle of onions. Friends, I’m here to tell you quesadillas can be so much more! These flavorful pockets of savory scrumptious-ness are filled to the brim with seasoned and roasted pumpkin, pan grilled onions and mushrooms, wilted spinach, and cashew cream pumped up with ancho chili powder. There’s not a shred of cheese, non-dairy or other-wise, and I swear you will never miss it!
While we’re expanding our quesadilla horizons, it’s time we think outside the
box can, when it comes to pumpkin. I encourage you to not only try your hand at roasting your own pumpkin, but also to use it in savory dishes! I know, easy for me to say, since I’ve been bombarding you for weeks with sweet pumpkin treats and desserts (and I probably have a few more to go :P). You just might find roasted pumpkin is the perfect addition to your next soup, stew, or even macaroni “cheese” sauce. And it’s a definite must-try in your next quesadilla.
Quick health and beauty benefits of pumpkin:
- Low in calories and rich in vitamins and minerals, pumpkin is a versatile nutrient-dense food.
- It’s high fiber content will fill you up, and may help you lose weight.
- The potassium, fiber, and and antioxidants in pumpkin are good for your heart.
- Rich in beta carotene, pumpkin is not only great for glowing, smooth skin, but it also may help prevent cancer.
- Antioxidants in pumpkin like vitamins C and E, along with beta carotene, are great for eye health and may prevent age-related macular degeneration.
- It’s combination of vitamin C and beta carotene make it a fabulous immunity booster, very important as we approach cold and flu season.
This time of year, I’m all about finding ways to enjoy pumpkin every day, if not two or three times a day! Restore some balance to your life, and your pumpkin repetoire, with these satisfying savory pumpkin quesadillas!
Roasted Pumpkin Quesadillas with Ancho Chili Cashew Cream
Makes about 4 – 6 servings (halve the recipe if you’re serving 2-3)
- 4 – 6 tortillas (whole wheat, sprouted whole grain, gluten free brown rice, or your choice)
- 1 small pie pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and chopped small (1/2 inch cubes)* see notes!
- 8 oz slices mushrooms, any variety (I used baby bella)
- 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
- 1 tablespoon tamari or coconut aminos + 1 tbsp water combined
- 2 cups baby spinach, washed
- 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder (or regular, or chipotle chili powder)
- 1/4 tsp garlic and onion powder
- 1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
- 2 – 3 tsp olive, avocado, or coconut oil for roasting (or use vegetable broth for oil-free)
Ancho Chili Cashew Cream
- 1 cup soaked/rinsed raw cashews (soak about 2-4 hours)
- 3/4 cup water
- 2 – 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 – 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt
Topping: Fresh cilantro leaves
If possible make the cashew cream ahead of time so the flavors can develop (it will also thicken). Blend everything together in a high speed blender, and taste, adding more spices, salt or lemon juice if desired. You can make it thinner by adding more water (and conversely, you can have a thicker cream by adding less water). Store in the fridge until ready to use.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss the pumpkin cubes with the oil or broth, spices, and salt and roast in a casserole dish for about 35 minutes, or until tender and lightly caramelized.
Meanwhile, saute your onion slices and mushrooms. I start with a hot, dry large skillet pan, and add the onions (about medium high heat). I let them sear for a minute or so before I move them at all, this helps get them caramelized. After a couple minutes, add the mushrooms. Try not to add liquid at first, if possible, the mushrooms will release some. If needed, add a little splash of water. After about 5 minutes, add the tamari/water and stir the onions and mushrooms. Once they have browned, add the spinach and allow it to wilt. If you’d like, you can also add a pinch or two of ancho chili powder, garlic powder, and black pepper. Remove from heat.
To assemble and cook the quesadillas, add a tablespoon of cashew cream to a tortilla and spread it on both sides. Add roasted pumpkin, grilled onions, mushrooms, and spinach, and fold. Heat a pan over medium heat, adding a little bit of oil if needed. Heat the quesadilla on both sides until lightly golden brown and hot. Continue with remaining ingredients. Serve with more cashew cream and fresh cilantro.
*Save time, and possibly a finger, by purchasing pre-peeled and chopped butternut squash and use instead of pumpkin. The hardest part of this recipe was finding a knife sharp enough to cut the pie pumpkin I bought! To help out my poor, old, un-sharp knife,. I pre-roasted my pumpkin for about 10 – 15 minutes, so the peel was softened and I could slice through it easier. If your knives are not very sharp, and you find yourself with a particularly tough pumpkin, I highly recommend this method!