I’m often asked, now that it’s been a couple of years, whether or not I’m glad I moved to California. I go through my now well-rehearsed spiel that while I miss my family in Illinois, California is pretty amazing (and hopefully stays amazing, we need rain!) I list off all the places that one can easily travel to within a 2 hour radius of Sacramento. I mention that we have farmers’ markets nearly every day of the week and some of those are year-round. And I usually end with the fact that there are many great people do amazing things in food here in Sacramento.
Last week I had the opportunity to get out of the house and volunteer for a few hours (first time since Mack was born!) The event was a Food Literacy Center program at their newest school added this year. Chefs from a few local restaurants came with prepared dishes, all in the name of getting kids excited about produce (and to help pick the veggie of the year.) It’s always a boost when you witness a kid try fresh produce and fall in love (it also helped that the chefs brought in some amazing samples to try!) It was also a great way to kick of Food Literacy Month here in California!
What vegetable did the kids pick as vegetable of the year? The Bell Pepper! So in honor of the bell pepper being named the veggie of the year, I whipped up these breakfast quesadillas loaded with a rainbow selection of bell peppers.
Also, if you want to know more about the Food Literacy Center: Pop over to their website to check out events, learn more about food literacy, and donate. Or if you want to see what all the fun was about, check out the photos from the school program on Food Literacy’s facebook.
Variations for Breakfast Quesadillas
I kept these breakfast quesadillas simple but the variations are endless. The gremolata is my go-to addition to most quesadillas ever since making these chipotle sweet potato quesadillas. It’s easy to whip up and adds quite a bit of flavor. And while I love all the colors of the peppers, feel free to use only one or two different kinds (but any leftovers can always be used for vegetable fajitas!)
More Vegetables: When in doubt, you can always add more vegetables. Saute zucchini, mushrooms, winter squash, and even greens. I kept this basic to highlight the pepper but feel free to go wild with vegetables.
Hummus: Either in place of the egg or with the egg, try mixing the cilantro gremolata with a couple tablespoons of hummus and smearing it on the tortilla before topping it with the cheese. A great way to add an extra bump in protein.
Sausage/Beans: Got a killer vegetarian/vegan sausage? It would work perfectly here. Or, I’ve also been known to toss a few black beans into the mixture as well. I like to really amp up my protein amounts in the morning.
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cups 1/4" thick sliced bell peppers, assorted colors
- 1/2 cup sliced yellow onion
- 1 cup cilantro leaves
- 1 clove garlic
- Zest from one lime
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 large eggs
- 4, 8\" or 10" flour tortillas (whole wheat or white)
- 3 to 4 ounces shredded Monterrey jack cheese
- Olive oil, for brushing
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add in olive oil, followed by pepper and onion slices. Cooking, stirring occasionally, until the peppers and onions are soft and the peppers are beginning to char, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- While the pepper mixture is cooking, mince the cilantro leaves and place in a bowl. Using a microplane, grate the garlic on to the cilantro, followed by the lime zest. Sprinkle in cumin then toss together and set side.
- Return back to the skillet and adding more oil if needed for no sticking, crack one egg and break the yolk. As the egg sets, push the unset whites and yolks out, creating a thin, pancake-like egg. Flip and cook for about 15 to 30 seconds more, just to set the egg. Repeat with second egg. Transfer to a cutting board and slice the egg into strips. (see note)
- Preheat skillet to medium low heat and assemble quesadillas. Start by brushing one tortilla side with oil and on the non oiled side, sprinkle with 1 ounce cheese, a pinch of gremolata, half the pepper mixture, 1/2 egg slices, another rough ounce of cheese and a final sprinkle of gremolata. Top with second tortilla and brush top with oil.
- Place quesadilla in the skillet and cook on each side until crisp and cheese is melting, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove from heat and continue with remaining quesadilla.
by Erin Alderson