Southwest Quesadillas with Turkey and cheese

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Originally Posted 6/20/18; reposted 6/1/20

We all know know that grilled cheese gets old. While quesadillas aren’t that different, here’s a Southwest Quesadilla recipe that’s equally easy and incorporates a veggie salad that our kids will actually eat.

invite kids to help make your southwest quesadillas !

These Southwest Quesadillas are pretty fun for kids to help make. There are lots of healthy ingredients for little ones to pour and stir into the salad. And our kids loved building their own quesadillas. Showing your kids the inside of an avocado can be really cool too. Oh! Be sure to save the avocado skins for this recipe’s Avocado Boat Craft!

Step 1: Cook the turkey

As a first step, brown the turkey and veggies and add in the taco seasoning according to instructions. Turn on your broiler so that it can start heating up!

Mashing meat with potato masher

Step 2: Prepare the salad

While turkey is cooking, mix the black beans, corn, tomatoes, avocados, cilantro and oil into a bowl. Squirt the lime over the mix. Season with salt and pepper and toss together.

Child stirring avocado salad

Step 3: Assemble and cook your quesadillas

Assemble the quesadillas on the cookie sheet and place under broiler for 1-2 minutes. Flip over the tortillas and pop your cookie sheet back under broiler for another 1-2 minutes. Repeat until all quesadillas are cooked. Cut quesadillas in half if you wish and enjoy!

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Ways to Customize your Southwest Quesadillas

Make it Vegan/Vegetarian! The salad that comes with this meal is naturally vegan. If you’d like to have your quesadillas meet the same criteria, we have two options: (1) Swap the turkey for roasted poblano peppers. To roast a poblano pepper, put it on a baking sheet and place in broiler. Heat for a couple minutes on each side. Once the skin is blackened and bubbling, take out and place in a Ziploc bag or in a bowl covered tight with plastic wrap. Let the pepper sweat a bit. Once it has cooled a bit, remove from bag or bowl, peel the skin off, take out stem and seeds, and chop into strips or bite sized pieces. (2) Swap the turkey for pea protein crumbles. I’m a huge fan of Beyond Meat Beefy Crumbles. I’ve used them for years to make vegetarian chili and it’s soooo delicious. I’m definitely a meat eater and I really can’t tell the difference. Worth noting is that these crumbles are high in protein, vegan, and also gluten-free. You will cook these crumbles the same exact way as the ground turkey. If you’re vegan, obviously eliminate the cheese and sour cream from the recipe. You can add salsa and/or corn to the tortilla filling for extra flavor.

Make it Gluten Free! The salad that comes with this meal is naturally gluten-free. If you’d like to have your quesadillas meet the same criteria, all you have to do is use corn tortillas (instead of flour) and make sure the taco seasoning contains no traces of gluten.

Make it Dairy Free! The salad that comes with this meal is naturally dairy-free. If you’d like to have your quesadillas meet the same criteria, simply eliminate the cheese and dairy from the recipe. You can add in corn and/or salsa for extra flavor.

How kids can help make this dish

This dish involves many kid-friendly tasks. Here are some ways for your lil’ sous chefs to help out (with adult supervision!):

  • Drain and rinse beans and corn using a strainer. This is an easy and fun task for toddlers
  • Prep avocados. Cut avocados lengthwise, remove seed, and cut into chunks. Kids can use a plastic knife, plastic pastry scraper or butter knife.
  • Help chop veggies. We’re  big fans of these Curious Chef kid-safe knives.
  • Break up turkey as it cooks using a Potato Masher.
  • Sprinkle taco seasoning onto meat. Kids can keep tasting the meat to see if it needs more seasoning.
  • Assemble tortillas! Sprinkle turkey, cheese and black olives onto tortillas. Kids can create smiley faces or other designs with black olives.Child putting together quesadillas

Note: This post contains affiliate links.

Final Tips To ensure smooth sailing!

Mimi’s Cooking Tips:

Check out these tricks and shortcuts from our in-house expert/Mom: Read More...

    🍅Use a potato masher to break up the turkey in the pan.

    🍅Use kitchen shears to chop the cilantro.

    🍅To keep the salad fresh for leftovers, cover it with plastic wrap before refrigerating.

    OUR “kidify” Tips:child sitting at table unhappy

    Have picky eaters? Read More...

      🍅Play with your food. If your kids are having a hard time tackling that salad, make a counting game out of it. For example, have them pull out 5 black beans and count them. Then ask how many are left when they eat one. Or have them pull out 3 corn kernels and 4 tomatoes, and ask if the amounts are equal once they eat a tomato. This is great for Kindergarten-aged kids. There are lots of little games you can come up with. Plus, some kids are more apt to eat veggies when they are separated from a dish and eaten alone. Who knows why?!

      🍅Use the microwave. You don’t have to use the broiler. If you’re strapped for time, don’t have a broiler, or your kids don’t like browning marks on the tortillas, just pop the quesadillas in the microwave.

      🍅Turkey on the side.  Although this quesadilla is pretty simple, some kids will still only eat a cheese quesadilla! If this is the case, just plate the turkey on the side.

      🍅Skip the chips! If you’re worried your kids will end up only eating chips for dinner…then skip the chips! I speak from experience here.

    Southwest Quesadillas
    Total Time
    28 mins
     
    Course: Main Course
    Servings: 6
    BUY IT
    Salad
    • 15 oz can black beans (drained & rinsed)
    • 15 oz can corn (drained)
    • 1/2 - 1 pt cherry or grape tomatoes (halved)
    • 2 ripened avocados (pitted & cubed)
    • 1 - 2 T fresh cilantro (chopped)
    • 1 - 2 t oil (olive or sesame oil)
    • 1 small lime
    • salt & pepper (to taste)
    Turkey & Cheese Quesadillas
    • cooking oil
    • 1/2 small yellow onion (chopped)
    • 4 oz can mild green chilis
    • 2 lb ground turkey
    • 1/2 cup water, maybe more
    • taco seasoning
    • 10 medium flour tortillas
    • 8 oz bag shredded Mexican cheese blend
    • 2.25 oz can sliced black olives
    • 8 oz sour cream
    • salsa
    • tortilla chips (optional)
    MAKE IT
    1. Preheat a pan (my absolute fave!) on medium, and add cooking oil. Combine chopped onion, green chilis and ground turkey in pan. Break turkey apart into smaller pieces. Cook until no longer pink.

    2. While turkey is cooking, prepare the salad. Mix the black beans, corn, tomatoes, avocados, cilantro and oil into a bowl. Squirt the lime over the mix. Season with salt and pepper and toss together.

    3. Add ½ cup water and healthy dose of taco seasoning to pan mixture. Mix together in pan and cook until water dissipates. Add more seasoning and water as needed, by taste. Remove from heat.

    4. Turn on your broiler to high heat. Give your broiler 5-10 mins to heat up before you’re ready to use it. Grab a cookie sheet.

    5. Assemble the quesadillas on the cookie sheet. On one half of the tortilla place a couple spoonfuls of turkey mixture, a handful of shredded cheese, and a few black olive slices. Fold in half. Repeat for each tortilla, as many as will fit on the cookie sheet.

    6. Put cookie sheet under broiler for 1-2 minutes. Take cookie sheet out and flip over the tortillas. Pop back under broiler for another 1-2 minutes. Repeat until all quesadillas are cooked. Cut quesadillas in half if you wish.

    PLATE IT

    Serve quesadillas with a dollop of sour cream and salsa, if desired. Serve with chips to scoop up all the good stuff.

    We recommend that all meals for children be served with milk.

    What Can Kids do while grown-ups cook?

    OTHER Turkey DISHES YOU MIGHT LIKE:

    🍅 Tangy Turkey Taco Bowl

    🍅 Crunchy Taco Salad with Pasta & Ranch Dressing

    🍅 Mini Turley Pot Pies

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