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Spinach Quesadillas with Spiced Pinto Beans

I'm finding myself away from home throughout the day more, which means dinner needs to happen in about 15 minutes. I'm relying on family favorites that I can easily make without fuss. These spinach quesadillas are at the top of my list. Often I'll make a larger batch of the beans which speeds up the process but honestly, even with cooking the beans, these are fast and delicious.

The Beans

I go through phases of cooking, especially when it comes to grains and legumes. I’m constantly switching up my favorites. Right now, my cooking is all about the pinto beans (like these pinto sweet potato enchiladas). I find these beans are the perfect, creamy addition to so many meals (think like in these vegan baked beans or my favorite smoky beans).

Of course, you can easily swap out your favorite bean. Black beans are the next obvious but I’ve also been known to use small white beans for their similar soft and creamy texture.

Greens. Greens. Greens.

To be honest, I use spinach out of sheer laziness. There’s an ease that comes with putting raw spinach in with the beans and cheese then have it come out tender and cooked. I do this with pizza and enchiladas too. I could probably make a case for doing this with most recipes.

However, I know greens can be one of those items that you always need recipes for. So, saute some kale or chard and add to the bean mixture. Of course, other items work well too. Sweet corn, shaved summer squash, tomatoes, and/or cooked sweet potatoes are just a few of my favorites.

Vegan (Yeah, I said vegan)

Here’s the thing: you could leave the cheese out of this. The creamy beans and greens could easily hold the tortillas together. This is also a solid time to add some smashed avocado or even hummus to the mix (it sounds strange but think of some chipotle hummus- so good!)


Finally, we use a lot of flour tortillas in our house but you could easily make this with gluten-free tortillas. Find some at your local grocery store or make your own. I have a version for an amaranth one that my friend Alanna shared on her site.


Spinach Quesadillas with Spiced Pinto Beans

  • Author: Erin Alderson
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 2 large servings or 4 smaller servings 1x
  • Category: dinner
  • Method: stovetop




1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 ½ cups (1 can) pinto beans with liquid

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

½ teaspoon cumin

¼ teaspoon coriander

¼ teaspoon oregano

¼ teaspoon sea salt


2 cups fresh baby spinach, shredded

4, 10” wheat tortillas

2 to 3 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese


  • Heat an 8” or 10” skillet over medium-low heat. Add the olive oil followed by the minced garlic. Cook for a minute or so then stir in the beans, with liquid, and the spices. Cook until the liquid reduces down to about ¼ of what there was and the beans are soft. Light mash the bean mixture with a fork.
  • Preheat a griddle or large, flat skillet over low heat- the pan should be large enough to fit the tortilla. Brush one side of a tortilla with olive oil and place it oil-side down in the skillet. Sprinkle a little cheese on the bottom then spread ¼ of the bean mixture on half the tortilla then top with ¼ of the spinach and enough cheese to be even over the spinach.
  • Fold the tortilla in half, covering the mixture. Cook the quesadilla over low heat, flipping once, about 4 to 5 minutes. The tortilla should be browning and crisp and the cheese should be melting. Cut into wedges to serve. Repeat with remaining tortillas.



You could easily use garlic powder instead of the minced garlic.

Keywords: spinach quesadilla, spiced pinto beans