By Elena Johnson
I recently threw a party for a friend who loves quesadillas. Since this was a brunch, I wanted to make something light and fresh instead of the traditional greasy quesadilla overflowing with melted cheese. My tomato basil quesadilla lets the flavors of fresh, summer produce shine through with just a touch of lemony cream cheese to hold everything together. Since I use dairy-free cream cheese, the entire dish is plant-based and cholesterol-free.
8 ounce container dairy-free cream cheese, like Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
8 8-inch flour tortillas
2 medium, ripe tomatoes, seeds removed and cut into 1 inch pieces
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, torn into ½ inch pieces
Canola oil or cooking spray
Spread the tomato pieces on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and allow liquid to be absorbed by the paper towels.
Combine the cream cheese, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a bowl and mix well until the juice and zest are fully incorporated into the cream cheese. It should taste lemony but still be creamy in texture.
Spread 2 Tbsp. of the cream cheese mixture evenly across the surface of one tortilla. Arrange some of the tomato pieces across one half of the tortilla, leaving the other half covered only with cream cheese. Sprinkle approx. 1 ½ tsp. of basil over the tomato pieces. Fold the half of the tortilla covered only with cream cheese over the tomato and basil covered half. Press together gently. Repeat process to assemble the remaining quesadillas.
Arrange quesadillas on baking sheets and lightly spray the surface of each with canola oil or cooking spray. Place in a 350° oven for 8 – 10 minutes until top is lightly browned. Do not overcook. Remove quesadillas from oven and let rest for 5 minutes.
Gently cut each quesadilla into three wedges and serve.
About the Author
Elena Johnson is a second-generation Filipino American living in Baltimore, MD. As a vegan chef and caterer she has been reinventing her family’s recipes and sharing these vegetarian versions of Filipino comfort food with friends, relatives, and those unfamiliar with the flavors of the Philippines. Elena is also the Special Projects Manager at Compassion Over Killing, a national animal advocacy organization focusing on cruelty to animals in agriculture and promoting vegetarian eating as a way to build a kinder world for all. Elena combines her passion for vegetarian food with a love of teaching by offering cooking demonstrations to the public. To learn more about why she went veg, visit TryVeg.com. Questions/feedback: email firstname.lastname@example.org.