Recipe | Broccoli Quinoa Quesadillas + A Cast Iron Cookware Primer

Broccoli Quinoa Quesadillas
Back when I first started cooking, I didn’t know that there was such a thing as non-non-stick cookware. (Stick cookware?) Non-stick cookware made for easy clean-up! It let you use less oil and butter in your cooking! It was pretty much the best invention ever, right?

And then suddenly you started hearing bad things about non-stick cookware. Although they say it’s perfectly safe to use as long as it’s not scratched, my cookware was constantly scratching. It made me kind of uneasy, so I decided to switch out my non-stick pots and pans for cast iron. Since cast iron tends to be a little bit pricier, it’s been an ongoing process, one that began before I even started blogging. As my old pots and pans wore out, I replaced them with new cast iron versions, usually scouring discount stores and the Le Creuset outlet for good deals. I’ve finally replaced my last few pieces with cast iron and I’ve learned a few things along the way:

Quinoa in Le Creuset Pan

Cast Iron Is Expensive (In the Short Term)

The biggest hurdle for me in switching to cast iron was the cost. But if you’re replacing your non-stick cookware every few years like I was, in the long-run, cast iron ends up being cheaper because when cared for properly, it should never need to be replaced.

Cast Iron Cooks Differently

When I first started using cast iron, I was burning a whole mess of food. I felt frustrated and wondered if maybe I made the wrong decision. Well, I should have read the little booklet that came with my cookware–cast iron retains heat better than other cookware, so you need to keep the temperature a little bit lower than you would with your non-stick cookware.

Quinoa Quesadilla Filling

Cast Iron Cleans Differently Too

Enamel cast iron, like Le Creuset, can be washed with soap and water just like other kinds of cookware. Black enamel can be either rinsed in hot water or cleaned with soap; with use, it will develop a patina, which looks a little bit like rust, but it actually helps keep food from sticking. Regular, non-enamel cast iron skillets should be rinsed with hot water or scrubbed with coarse salt; once dry, the skillet should be coated with a thin layer of cooking oil. This takes some getting used to–I still have a nagging feeling that my cast iron skillet isn’t clean after I use it. For this reason, I prefer using enamel cast iron.

Cast Iron Is Super Convenient (Really!)

My absolute favorite thing about cast iron cookware is that it goes from stove to oven. When I make mac & cheese, instead of transferring it to a casserole dish, I can just leave it in the pot, top it with breadcrumbs and cheese, and pop it in the oven to bake. You can even use cast iron Dutch ovens to bake cakes and breads.

Quesadillas in Le Creuset Skillet
I used to make quesadillas on my panini maker, but after a few mishaps where more cheese ended up on the grill than in the tortilla, I’ve started making them in my enamel cast iron skillet instead. I use just a little bit of oil to get them perfectly crispy on the outside. These Broccoli Quinoa Quesadillas are a simple, kid-friendly meal, ready in under 30 minutes.

Broccoli Quinoa Quesadillas

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4 quesadillas

Broccoli Quinoa Quesadillas

Quinoa can be a tough sell, but adding it to cheesy quesadillas is sure to win over even the pickiest eaters!

Ingredients

  • 1/4 c. quinoa, cooked in vegetable broth according to package directions
  • 1/2 c. frozen chopped broccoli, thawed
  • 1 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • 4 medium whole wheat tortillas
  • 2 tsp. olive oil

Instructions

  1. Combine quinoa, broccoli, and cheese in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide mixture evenly onto one half of each tortilla; fold top of tortilla onto filling.
  2. Heat one teaspoon of oil in a medium cast iron skillet over medium heat; swirl to coat. Place 2 quesadillas in skillet and cook until browned, about 3 minutes on each side. Add another teaspoon of oil to skillet and repeat with remaining quesadillas. Cut into wedges and serve.
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Disclaimer: Although I bought almost all of my cast iron cookware myself, Le Creuset sent me a few pieces to finish out my set. This had no influence on my opinion of their products–I have used them for years!

Kiersten Frase

About Kiersten

Kiersten is the founder and head writer of Oh My Veggies. She lives just outside of Raleigh with her husband and their 4 wonky-eyed rescue cats.   Read more from Kiersten →

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Comments

  1. says

    I can’t wait to get my hands on some cast iron when I get back to the US! (No point dragging heavy pans I can’t afford overseas for more money…). I’ll keep the enamel option in mind, too.

    Quinoa is one of those things like brown rice where I’ve been lucky to find good recipes and have loved it from the first bite. These look really good.

    • Kiersten Frase says

      Yeah, I’ve pretty much always loved quinoa too, although I went through a phase of being totally burnt out on it. It was when I was in school and I swear, I think I made quinoa for dinner at least 4 nights a week. Then I couldn’t even look at the stuff for a good year or two. :)

  2. says

    This looks really yummy, and so healthy! I love quinoa, so I’m always look for new ways to add it to recipes! I agree, cast iron is great. We recently switched to Le Creuset and LOVE it. You are right, it does cook differently, I’ve had to get used to cooking at lower temps :)

  3. says

    First of all this is absolutely gorgeous. I could eat a gazillion of these. Which defeats the healthy part of them I suppose. Second I only have 1 tiny little Le Cre. It makes me sad I don’t have more. I keep waiting for them to go on sale at the chef store but it rarely happens. I love cast iron. I have a couple of cheaper ones and I use them all the time. But I covet one of these bad boys in a big bad way.

    • Kiersten Frase says

      Do you have a Le Creuset outlet near you? TJ Maxx? Homegoods? The Le Creuset outlet is the absolute best for getting good deals–I’m on their mailing list, so whenever they have a big promotion, I get a little flyer about it. TJ Maxx & Homegoods usually have seconds, although being TJ Maxx & Homegoods, it’s really hit or miss–sometimes they have shelves & shelves of them, other times they have nothing. If you don’t want seconds, waiting for a sale at a chef store is probably best, but personally, I don’t mind the seconds because usually their issues are all aesthetic, not functional.

  4. says

    Cast iron is the best cooking media, hands down. I have a couple of Staub pieces that I adore, but I also love my good ole, as-basic-as-it-gets Lodge pans. I even “ruined” one once – every inch of it was rusted over – but it was easily saved with some scrubbing and a few bouts of seasoning.

  5. says

    Wow, I’ve never heard of anything like this! I’ve never seen quinoa in quesadillas, and I’ve never tried adding cheddar cheese to quinoa either (the only cheeses I’ve used in quinoa are feta and goat cheese). Definitely sounds interesting! I’d love all new pots and pans too…I’m always afraid to whisk anything on the stove because I feel like I’m just scraping up bits of the pot and stirring it into my dish..

    • Kiersten Frase says

      I made a quinoa mac & cheese recipe from Tasty Kitchen that was amazing–that was the first time I tried cheddar in quinoa. I think it was probably a zillion calories, but I enjoyed every single one of them. :)

  6. says

    I recently bought cast iron and have really loved using it so far. This is a great post. That quesadilla looks delicious–love the quinoa in it.

  7. says

    Our nonstick set is on it’s last leg, so I’ve been deciding between cast iron & more non-stick. This post really helped, thanks! {&Those quesadillas look AMAZING.}

  8. says

    I’m waiting very impatiently for the Le Creuset fairy to bring me a skillet and dutch oven.

    Wait. There’s no Le Creuset fairy? This is going to be harder than I thought then. But really, I do want some cast iron cookware!

  9. says

    I have a couple pieces of enameled cast iron, but it is hard to find unenameled cast iron that is the quality of the old vintage pans. I grew up cooking on antique cast iron pans the smooth well seasoned surface on those skillets and griddles were almost non-stick.

  10. says

    Yum! I was perusing Foodgawker for a vegetarian answer for dinner tonight and stumbled across this! My daughter loves tortillas, so this sounds like a great way to get some protein and veggies into her belly. :-) Thanks girl!

  11. Gerri Tiffin says

    I cooked balsamic honey beets with the beets in the middle, and the tops around the outside of my old cast iron pan, which I cooked on the BBQ.I covered the veggin the with tin foil, and they were so delicious, served them right out of the pan on the table.

  12. Joy says

    I found your website a few days ago and I’m already OBSESSED! I was pressed for time and had all these ingredients in my fridge, but I never would have thought to put them together. I was shocked by how delicious and simple they were. Keep it up, I love your blog!

  13. Monica says

    This looks so good! Do you have know how many calories are in one serving? Also, can you substitue fresh broccoli instead?

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