Spiced Sweet Potato Quesadilla with Blood Orange Salsa

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Our vacation of almost two weeks is winding down and tomorrow we return to work. We enjoyed busy family Christmas celebration time, out of town travel and some time spent at the cabin, along with the better part of a week doing the “stay-cation” thing at home—it’s been absolutely wonderful! I even had time to redesign this blog—I hope you like it—feedback welcome!

But I’ll actually welcome the structure a work week brings back to my life. Even though I have kept up my exercise routine for the most part, vacation makes it all too easy for me to eat more than I should and it’s always the right time for a glass of wine (or two), you know, because I’m on vacation! I can feel all those extra calories. The work week routine will make it much easier to get back on track.

Yesterday while watching the North Dakota State University Football team win their third straight FCS National Championship (go Bison!!), I made these tasty quesadillas to munch on while we cheered my team on (I was a Bison and my dad has been professor at NDSU for decades).
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The quesadilla recipe is from Naturally Ella, a beautiful food blog with mouth-watering photos and stand-out recipes. The salsa is my idea, inspired by the gorgeous blood oranges I picked up the day before.

To get rid of the membrane and showcase the striking blood orange color, you’ll want to supreme the oranges. Supreming is a technique that removes the membrane from citrus fruit so it can be served in pretty slices or chopped, as is the case with this lovely salsa. Instructions for supreming citrus here or head to YouTube for video instructions.
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Spiced Sweet Potato Quesadilla with Blood Orange Salsa

½ medium red onion, roughly chopped
1 poblano pepper, roughly chopped
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and sliced ¼” thick
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing tortillas
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon sea salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
Juice from half a lime
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (optional)
4 whole wheat flour tortillas (use 6 corn tortillas for a gluten-free version)
4 ounces shredded cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, Colby, or even crumbled blue cheese)

Salsa:
2 Blood oranges, surpremed and chopped
1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced (include some of the seeds if you’d like some heat)
¼ cup diced red onion
Pinch of cumin
Pinch of sea salt

Plain yogurt or sour cream, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In large bowl, toss the onion and pepper with the sweet potato slices, olive oil, smoked paprika, garlic powder, sea salt and cayenne, until well coated. Line a large baking pan with parchment and spread vegetables in a single layer on pan. Roast until tender and lightly charred, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and toss roasted vegetables with lime juice and cilantro (if using).
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While vegetables are roasting, prepare the blood orange salsa: Combine chopped orange, diced jalapeño, red onion, cumin and salt. Taste and add more cumin or salt, if needed. Set aside.
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Preheat grill, grill pan, or skillet over medium-low heat. Brush each tortilla with olive oil and place one tortilla in the pan. Cook for 30 seconds and flip, then layer the tortilla with cheese and sweet potato mixture. Top with another tortilla. Cook 3-4 minutes, then flip and cook about 3 more minutes until tortillas are crisp and cheese is melted. Remove from pan onto cutting board and cut into wedges. Repeat with remaining tortillas, cheese, and filling. Serve wedges topped with blood orange salsa and yogurt/sour cream, if desired.
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