Protein-Packed Vegan White Bean & Spinach Quesadilla
This cheesy, creamy vegan quesadilla with white bean and spinach are flavourful, filling and take just 10 minutes to make! This healthy quesadilla recipe has it all: plant-based protein and gut-friendly fibre from the creamy white beans (which sit on my high fibre food list), and the essential minerals and anti-inflammatory properties of dark green plants. It’s an easy and nourishing meal for breakfast, lunch or dinner!
Sometimes, you just need a really quick meal without much fuss. I’m trying to go a whole month without any takeout (even coffee!) so I’ve been brainstorming satisfying meals that simple enough for those nights when I just can’t. Quesadillas are one of those midweek wins, so I wanted to jazz them up a little bit without losing one bit of their ease. So these white bean + spinach quesadillas are just a tiny bit more involved than slapping cheese and beans in a tortilla but the payoff is BIG.
How to create a healthy, balanced vegan that keeps you full
As a dietitian, one of the biggest slip ups I see when folks are moving towards a plant-based or vegan diet is skimping on plant-based protein and healthy plant fats. It’s a common mistake make a dish vegan by simply removing the animal products – and it will leave you feeling hangry and craving carbs 24/7.
In order to feel full and satisfied at a meal, you need a few things:
- an appropriate volume of food for your body
- eating foods you enjoy, that taste good to you
Animal foods offer fat and protein, so you need to replace it with plant-based sources of protein like beans, nuts and seeds. These quesadillas offer about 16-20 grams of plant-based protein from the beans, cashew and tortillas (I checked a few different brands of whole grain tortillas to get a protein estimate). Fat is critical for flavour, as many flavour compounds are fat soluble…so a little fat really helps food taste amazing! Healthy fats from coconut, nuts or seeds also helps you to create creamy textures, which I’m obsessed with.
What you’ll need to make this healthy vegan quesadilla really craveable
To me, a really good quesadilla is all about that soft, melty, sauciness so I’ve layered it on in a couple of ways:
- soft white beans that are easy to smash and quite buttery all on their own
- your favourite vegan pesto, which is a delicious and nutrient dense flavour bomb (I’ve got a great vegan pesto recipe if you want to make your own!)
- melty vegan cheese, I find that Earth Island Pizza Shreds and Daiya both melt well but you can easily make these quesadillas without cheese if you like for a more whole food recipe
- creamy, umami-rich cashew Alfredo which takes just 5 minutes to make but really takes these quesadillas over the top
Health Benefits of Spinach
I love baby spinach because it is such an ‘instant’ veg to have on hand. No chopping, no washing (yes, you’re really supposed to wash it but it’s much easier than field spinach!) and it’s incredibly nutrient dense. Baby spinach makes it SO easy to pump up the plant power of your meals! Just one cup of raw spinach (which isn’t a lot!) contains
- Just under a gram each of microbiome-boosting fibre as well as protein
- About 30mg of bone-building calcium as well as 25mg of calming magnesium
- Tons of vitamin A carotenoids (about 1700 micrograms) that help to support collagen in the skin and immunity
- About 60 micrograms of folate, for healthy red blood cells and to support a healthy pregnancy
- Plenty of other anti-inflammatory and antioxidant phytochemicals such as lutein + zeaxanthin
- Cooked spinach is another of those great plant-based sources of iron with 3.5mg per half cup
Genius tip for making a golden brown, crisp quesadilla
If you want a truly golden, crisp tortilla you have to press the quesadilla down into the pan. I used to do this by simply pressing the quesadilla with my spatula until I got read this genius hack from Nisha at Rainbow Plant Life: just place a smaller skillet on the quesadilla to act like a sandwich press. So much simpler, like a DIY sandwich press!
Love this? Here are more plant-based sandwich and burger ideas:
- Easy Vegan White Bean Sandwich with Crispy Kale
- Vegan Tofu Banh Mi Recipe
- Mediterranean Hummus Toast
- Meet the (no meat) burger of your dreams: Beet Walnut Burger
- Buffalo Cauliflower Burgers with White Beans
Protein-Packed Vegan White Bean & Spinach Quesadilla
White Bean + Spinach Filling
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil, or extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups cooked white beans, navy, cannelini, butter
- 4 large handfuls baby spinach
- 1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic , minced, or ½ tsp (2 mL) garlic powder
- freshly cracked pepper
- High Speed Blender
- If you’ve got 5 extra minutes, I highly recommend making the cashew alfredo. If you’re game, do that first!
- Then, heat up oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium heat. Add beans, spinach, red pepper and garlic with a good pinch of salt and plenty of cracked pepper. Warm until garlic softens and spinach wilts, stirring often, about 2-3 minutes. Lightly mash beans with back of spatula so they won’t roll out of your quesadilla! Remove from heat.
- Spread tortillas with pesto along one side. Divide vegetable mixture over pesto, then sprinkle with cheese and drizzle with alfredo, if using. In the same pan, give it a quick wipe and then warm over medium heat until tortilla is golden and cheese is melty, about 1-2 minutes a side. Hot tip: place another smaller skillet over the quesadilla while it cooks to make them crispier!