Recipe | Mushroom & Zucchini Quesadillas with Cilantro Pesto

Mushroom & Zucchini Quesadillas with Cilantro Pesto
How do you feel about cilantro? Because if you’re a cilantro hater, you may want to avert your eyes. (Or maybe run in terror?) These Mushroom & Zucchini Quesadillas have a generous helping of cilantro pesto on them. So you’ve been warned, okay?

Personally, I love cilantro. I never really got all passionate hatred directed towards this inoffensive little herb. I mean, I’m sure there are people who hate basil or oregano. But they don’t make a thing out of it. And cilantro hating is most definitely a thing. There’s even an I Hate Cilantro website.

Cilantro Pesto & Quesadilla Assembly
Well, apparently it’s a matter of genetics. Cilantro haters taste soap when they eat cilantro. It’s a genetic predisposition, something they’re born with. There are other explanations too, though–some of the molecules that form the aroma of cilantro are also molecules found in both lye (soap!) and insects. Interestingly, crushing cilantro leaves converts these molecules into other substances which makes them inoffensive to cilantro haters. So cilantro pesto? Should be totally cool with both cilantro haters and cilantro lovers alike.

Of course, if you hate cilantro with a passion, it might be too much to ask to even put you in the same room with fresh cilantro, let alone make it into a pesto. But this cilantro pesto is worth taking a chance on. Its bright, fresh (and spicy!) flavor takes an ordinary veggie quesadilla recipe and makes it something worth blogging about. In fact, I’m so in love with this pesto that it might be making some more appearances on Oh My Veggies very soon!

Mushroom & Zucchini Quesadillas with Cilantro Pesto

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 6 quesadillas

Serving Size: 1 quesadilla

Mushroom & Zucchini Quesadillas with Cilantro Pesto

Cilantro pesto adds a fresh, spicy flavor to these easy veggie quesadillas.


    Cilantro Pesto
  • 1 c. cilantro leaves, packed
  • 1/4 c. walnuts
  • zest from 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds removed and halved
  • salt to taste
  • Mushroom & Zucchini Quesadillas
  • 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 medium flour tortillas
  • 1 batch cilantro pesto
  • 1 1/2 c. Monterrey Jack or Mexican Blend cheese
  • salsa, sour cream, and lime wedges for serving


    For Cilantro Pesto:
  1. Combine all ingredients in food processor and process until mixture is well-combined and reaches a pesto-like consistency.
  2. For Mushroom & Zucchini Quesadillas:
  3. Heat oil in a medium skillet at medium-high heat. Add zucchini and mushrooms and cook, stirring often, 5-6 minutes or until softened but not mushy. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Spread half of each tortilla with pesto. Divide vegetables and cheese onto pesto-side of tortillas and fold in half.
  5. Wipe out skillet. Heat on medium and cook quesadillas, two at a time, about 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown and slightly crispy. (If you prefer, you can use a grill instead.) Cut each quesadilla in half and serve with salsa, sour cream, and lime wedges.
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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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    • Kiersten Frase says

      Were you growing the cilantro in the sun or in the shade? The instructions with the plant say to plant it in full sun, but someone told me to plant it in the shade instead and so far so good! Before this, I’ve never had luck with cilantro either.

    • Kiersten Frase says

      Have you tried cilantro pesto before? This was my first time making it and zomg, it is so good! I just want to slather it on everything.

  1. says

    First of all, those quesadillas look darn good! Second, I was actually planning on grilling some quesadillas this weekend. I was planning to do grilled corn or something. Your cilantro pesto just might be the perfect addition to grilled quesadilla night. MMM!

    I’d seriously hate it if I was one of those people who couldn’t eat cilantro. One of my absolute favorite taco toppings is cilantro paired with chopped onion. Taco night just wouldn’t be the same.

        • Kiersten Frase says

          So glad you liked it! Chipotle glazed corn? So hungry right now.

          And I made your scones today! With strawberries because they were on sale & blueberries weren’t. ;) They were delicious & I’m going to post about them on Friday!

    • Kiersten Frase says

      I think I could add it to anything too. My latest kick is to put lots and LOTS of it in soup instead of other greens. Even in (not) chicken noodle soup. So good.

  2. says

    I’ve heard of the soap thing but didn’t know crushing the cilantro might help – interesting! Fortunately, I love cilantro, and love the sounds of this quesadilla!!

  3. says

    I think I occupy middle ground — I like cilantro in small doses, but I don’t hate it or love it. I also feel like homemade salsa isn’t complete without it. If anything, it’s mushrooms I have issues with, but I’d gobble the rest of the quesadilla! :)

    • Kiersten Frase says

      Ha! Yes, I think mushrooms are like cilantro in that they are very polarizing–maybe not quite as much as cilantro, but it seems like people either love them or hate them.

    • Kiersten Frase says

      One of my favorite quesadilla recipes (which I never make anymore because I’m trying to lose weight–ha!) has sliced bananas, chocolate chips, cinnamon, and sugar in it. So yes, they are definitely versatile–you can even use them for desserts!

  4. says

    I looooooove cilantro!!! But I know so many people that hate it and won’t go anywhere near it. My boyfriend actually calls it the “black hole of taste”. *HAH* I personally love it in salads, salsa, curries etc. These quesadillas look perfect! Cilantro pesto sounds ah-maz-ing :)

    • Kiersten Frase says

      Yes, and people who hate it just haaaaaate it. I can’t think of any other food that people hate so passionately! I’m with you though, I’d put it on anything.

    • Kiersten Frase says

      Thank you! You know, I don’t know that I can recall ever having cilantro in Indian food–I’m sure I have and I’m just forgetting about it though! ;)

  5. says

    Cilantro pesto sounds awesome! I am definitely a cilantro lover…I made cornbread to have with chili once and added some cilantro to the batter and it tasted amazing, so I believe it would taste good in almost anything :)

  6. says

    I love cilantro too, although when I make a dish for a group of people, I’ll sometimes leave it out in case there’s a cilantro-hater in the group who wouldn’t be able to eat it. I think the jalapeno and lime are the perfect ingredients to go in a cilantro pesto, and it sounds like it would be perfect in those quesadillas too!

  7. says

    I love cilantro! Unfortunately my husbIand is a hater, so I can’t use it in cooking. He literally can’t even eat a dish with cilantro on it.

    • Kiersten Frase says

      Well, supposedly if you crush the cilantro leaves, it changes the flavor that cilantro haters are so turned off by. Maybe you could sneak some cilantro into your cooking that way. :)

  8. says

    I was looking for my original comment to add to and can’t find it. So either I didn’t comment when you first posted this (how is that possible?) or it’s disappeared. Either way, I made this tonight and it was amazing! The first thing my husband said when he got home is, “Are you making me eat vegetarian again?” I told him I was and he was going to love it and he did. This was so good and we didn’t have any leftover! We like spicy food and even with deseeding and deveining the jalapeno, ours was still spicy. I’m hoping next time our pepper doesn’t have quite as much spice and we can give some to Cakes to try too!

    • Kiersten Frase says

      It disappeared. :( Did I tell you about that? When I switched to my new host, I had this period for almost a week where my blog was going between the old host and the new host. Like, sometimes it was hosted by the old one, sometimes by the new one. So a lot of comments left during that back-and-forth time disappeared when my blog finally settled at InMotion.

      But anyway! I’m so glad you liked it! This is one of Chris’s favorite recipes too. You know what’s strange, normally I never de-vein & de-seed my jalapenos because they’re so mild, but every one I’ve bought over the past few months has been SO spicy. There was one I used a few weeks ago and my fingers burned for days after cutting it. So something is making jalapenos stronger lately, I swear!

      • says

        I think the peppers are spicier because of the extreme heat/lack of rain this year – they’re angry. Apparently that’s the difference between hot and mild Hatch peppers – the amount of water they receive.

  9. Mel says

    Can you freeze these once they are cooked? 6 is too many for my family but I LOVE the idea of making a batch, then freezing the remaining.

    • Kiersten Frase says

      I’ve never tried freezing quesadillas. While it definitely could work, zucchini and mushrooms aren’t the best when it comes to freezing and thawing–they tend to release a lot of water and while in some recipes, it doesn’t matter too much, with these quesadillas, they could get really soggy. You could always make the recipe in half or have them two days in a row, making all the filling on the first day. :)

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