Quesadillas with black beans & tofu, huitlacoche & rajas

Quesadillas with black beans & tofu, huitlacoche & rajas

V is for Vegan

I used to live in Los Angeles, where I worked in a photographic lab printing pictures by famous photographers. Every morning a Mexican food truck would pull up at about 11am and I’d order a cheesy green chilli quesadilla. Heaven! At that time I was going to the gym every day doing Jane Fonda-style ‘aerobics’ – remember them? – so I could afford to eat my body weight in fat ‘n’ carbs. This is a vegan version, equally tasty but rather healthier. Huitlacoche is a fungus that grows on corn, which I’ll admit sounds disgusting but absolutely isn’t. (What do you think mushrooms are?) Rajas are tinned strips of poblano chilli, which are very mild but tasty. You can buy huitlacoche and rajas online at Mexican food sites (like www.mexgrocer.co.uk and casamexico.co.uk). They are the authentic taste of Mexican cooking. If you need that cheesy feel, then use one of the stretchier vegan cheeses such as Cheezly, sold in slices. You could also add slices of avocado and soya yoghurt as ‘sour’ cream.

This is a great recipe for a weekend brunch to share with family or friends. I’ve got a few ingredients here, so you could lay them all out and mix and match.


Quantity Ingredient
olive oil, for frying
1 onion, diced
1 red pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
1 jalapeno chilli, deseeded and chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
400 g tin black beans, drained, (or pinto beans)
1 litre vegetable stock
1 lime, Juiced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
50g vegan dark chocolate, (optional)
1 chipotle, roasted and then soaked
1 tablespoon sweet paprika, plus 1 teaspoon extra
1 tablespoon fresh or dried thyme leaves
large handful coriander leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
a few drops chipotle or tabasco sauce
400g firm tofu, drained and sliced 1 cm thick
1 small tin huitlacoche, drained, (or use tinned mushrooms)
handful green rajas from a tin, (or use jalapenos or mild green chillies, roasted, deseeded, skinned and cut into strips) plus extra to serve
16 small wheat tortillas
or 8 large wheat tortillas
vegan melty cheese, sliced, (optional)
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

To serve:

Quantity Ingredient
avocado, sliced
soya yoghurt
lime wedges
coriander leaves


  1. To make the black bean chilli, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat and fry the onion until soft, then season with salt and pepper. Add the red pepper, jalapeño, garlic and beans. Continue to fry for a couple of minutes, then add the stock and lime juice. Add the cumin, chocolate, if using, chipotle, the 1 tablespoon paprika and thyme leaves. Lower the heat and cook for 30 minutes. Check the seasoning, then remove from the heat, stir in the coriander and set aside in a bowl.
  2. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan, then add the 1 teaspoon paprika, cumin, 1 teaspoon salt and chipotle or Tabasco sauce. Add the tofu and fry lightly until warmed through. Add the huitlacoche (or mushrooms) and a few of the rajas (or green chilli) strips, stirring carefully so as not to break up the tofu. Set aside in a bowl.
  3. You will need to cook these in batches, 1–2 at a time depending on the size of the tortillas and your frying pan. Lay out 2 tortillas and spread the black bean chilli in a thin layer, then the tofu mixture. If you have vegan cheese, add that in slices too. Place 2 tortillas over the top, pressing down slightly.
  4. Fry the assembled tortillas in a dry, flat frying pan over a medium heat, flipping them over once the underneath tortilla starts to brown. Once the other side is done, remove from the heat and cut into quarters. Keep hot in a low oven while you repeat with the remaining tortillas until they’re all done.
  5. Serve with avocado, soya yoghurt, some more of the rajas, lime wedges and coriander leaves.
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