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Recipe | Broccoli Quinoa Quesadillas + A Cast Iron Cookware Primer

Broccoli Quinoa Quesadillas

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

Broccoli Quinoa Quesadillas Recipe

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

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 quesadillas


  • 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


  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.

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!

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  • Reply
    Rochelle @
    February 25, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    Quinoa in a quesadilla? I would have never thought of that. Brilliant. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Marie @ Not Enough Cinnamon
    February 25, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    Having cast iron cookware is one of my dreams ! I’ve heard that it’s totally worth the investment and your article just prove it again. As soon as we’re settled (we live in Australia this year and then…who knows!) I’ll start my collection ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply
      February 26, 2013 at 10:39 am

      Yeah, I think cast iron cookware is definitely something you don’t want to be traveling with! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    February 25, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    These are so clever! Will definitely be making these and you have convinced me about cast iron. I will be on the hunt for a deal now! Thanks again!

  • Reply
    Jennifer The Quirky Momma
    February 25, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    Quinoa is wonderful! I’m learning many ways to use it!

  • Reply
    Courtney Jones
    February 25, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    Love the idea of adding quinoa to a quesadilla. Yum! ๐Ÿ™‚ I think I’ll add this to the menu plan this week. Guaranteed hit in our home.

  • Reply
    Meghan @JaMonkey
    February 25, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    I know what I’m having for lunch tomorrow!

  • Reply
    Micaela @MindfulMomma
    February 25, 2013 at 9:06 pm

    I’m a huge cast iron fan too! I recommend looking for them in thrift and antique stores – sometimes you can get a great deal on a pan – and it might even be pre-seasoned already!

    (never thought to put quinoa in a quesadilla before – thanks for the tip!)

  • Reply
    February 25, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    I think this would be the perfect recipe and place for me to try Quinoa

  • Reply
    Natalie @ Once Upon a Cutting Board
    February 25, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    I don’t own any cast iron pans even though I know I should .. It’s funny I just had one in my hand last weekend because there was a really good sale on one, but I ended up deciding I would probably never use it because they scare me too much haha .. I wish I’d read this first! Love the paninis too – I never would have thought to put quinoa in one!

    • Reply
      Natalie @ Once Upon a Cutting Board
      February 25, 2013 at 9:38 pm

      And obviously I meant quesadilla, oops!

      • Reply
        February 26, 2013 at 10:34 am

        Well, it’s funny, this recipe was originally a panini and then I decided to make it a quesadilla instead. ๐Ÿ™‚ And don’t be scared of cast iron! There’s a little bit of a learning curve, but once you get the hang of cooking with & caring for them, they are so great to use.

  • Reply
    Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl
    February 25, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    This looks SO good and amazingly simple! Love it :).

  • Reply
    Stephanie @ henry happened
    February 25, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    There are certain things that I always cook in my cast iron skillet – like quesadillas and frittatas. They always turn out better in my heavy red skillet for some reason. P.S. Love the blog changes ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply
      February 26, 2013 at 10:33 am

      Thank you! I’m really happy with how they turned out too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    ashley - baker by nature
    February 25, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    It’s like you jumped inside my brain, took all of my favorite things ever and made them into a quesadilla! This is happening!

  • Reply
    February 25, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    I love cast iron! Though I haven’t sworn off nonstick yet. And I feel like the black non-enamel has better nonstick properties — food seems to stick to the enamel more, and I don’t want to use too much oil. Do you use only certain brands? I love my Le Creuset pieces and my Lodge non-enamel frying pan, but a Martha Stewart dutch oven I had a few years ago had chipping enamel. It was way cheaper than Le Creuset, but got tossed.

    • Reply
      February 26, 2013 at 10:31 am

      I have a Lodge skillet, but all the rest of my cookware is Le Creuset. I absolutely love it–I’ve been using it for years and haven’t had any problems with chipping.

  • Reply
    Laura (Got Chocolate)
    February 25, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    HA! I’m old school in that I have plain old cast iron pans and have been using them for 20+ years after I completely ruined my then-fiance’s non-stick pans. I had NO clue you were supposed to use a metal spatula on them. Oops! LOVE cast iron! AND, I LOVE quinoa. Plain. Don’t even need butter on it! Your quesadillas are brilliant! YUM! ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Reply
      February 26, 2013 at 10:28 am

      Yeah, I had used metal utensils on my non-stick stuff too (oops indeed!), although even when we replaced it all with new non-stick cookware, it would still get all scratched up. :/

  • Reply
    Kiran @
    February 26, 2013 at 3:21 am

    I truly need le creuset cast iron in my life! Love this quesadillas and the use of quinoa. Never thought about it!

  • Reply
    [email protected]'s Recipes
    February 26, 2013 at 4:23 am

    I would love to have a le creuset cast iron…only wish they were not so pricy.
    Your quesadillas look mouthwatering.

  • Reply
    Robin (Masshole Mommy)
    February 26, 2013 at 5:44 am

    I am totally going to give these a shot for lunch this weekend. My kids won’t like these, but they’ll be out all day, so I am gonna make these for my hubby and me ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    February 26, 2013 at 5:59 am

    Great tips on cooking with cast iron. An added benefit to the non-enameled variety is that it also adds iron to your food!

  • Reply
    Sara @my less serious life
    February 26, 2013 at 6:52 am

    this is really useful – i’ve been wanting a cast iron skillet for months now and it is interesting to see what a difference they make!

  • Reply
    Kare @ Kitchen Treaty
    February 26, 2013 at 10:11 am

    And when you use cast iron, you get a little more iron in your food! Or so I’ve heard. Another thing I heard last week (from Erica of NW Edible who spoke at a home and garden show here in Seattle) is that you can wash your cast iron skillet (especially if you have too much rust, usually because you haven’t been using it) with kosher salt and a lemon half. I can’t wait to have a little rust to try that one out.

    I have a quesadilla post lined up for this week, myself! Mine is far less classy than yours though. I actually tried to make a broccoli cheddar quesadilla a few weeks ago and was underwhelmed, but mine lacked both sharp cheddar and the brilliant addition of quinoa. These look much, much better.

    • Reply
      February 26, 2013 at 10:20 am

      The sharp cheddar totally makes a difference! That’s all I buy now because I find the regular cheddar just doesn’t have as much flavor. I also like shredding the cheese myself because I think the blocks of cheese melt much better…

  • Reply
    Anna {Herbivore Triathlete}
    February 26, 2013 at 10:27 am

    I use cast-iron almost exclusively for my cooking. I’ve been able to get good deals at garage sales on all kinds of sizes of cast-iron. With some scrubbing and care I was able to salvage 8 pans that looked awful.

    I never thought to put quinoa in a quesadilla, I like it!

  • Reply
    Diane {Created by Diane}
    February 26, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    these look delicious!

  • Reply
    Maria Tadic
    February 26, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    So now I know why I burn food in my cast iron skillet…it kinda got put in “time out” after one very frustrating and glued on mess! Leaving it sit with oil in it, does that create a more non-stick surface? And do you have to do that every time you use it?

    • Reply
      February 27, 2013 at 10:30 am

      Yes, with a regular cast iron skillet, you’re supposed to oil it after each use. You can put a paper towel on top of it to keep it from collecting dust (or in my case, cat hair!) while it’s not being used. The more you cook with it, the more non-stick the skillet becomes!

  • Reply
    Alison @ Ingredients, Inc.
    February 26, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    looks amazing! I am a huge quinoa fan

  • Reply
    Bernadette @ Now Stir It Up
    February 26, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    I live in a not-so-upgraded apartment complex and we have pretty old electric stoves. I think they might be older than me. The great thing about cast iron is it distributes heat evenly so I never have one side of the pot being hotter than the other. With my stove having so many issues, its sooo nice not having to worry abou that. Your cleaning tips are great BTW. I have the black cast iron and personally love it, although I can sympathize that I never feel like it is clean.

    • Reply
      February 27, 2013 at 10:11 am

      Are they the electric stoves with metal coils? We lived in an apartment with those and they are the worst–the worst! Oh, how I hated those things. They were so hard to clean too.

      • Reply
        Bernadette @ Now Stir It Up
        February 27, 2013 at 2:47 pm

        Yes… they are the metal coils. They really are terrible. I can not WAIT to move (hopefully somewhere with a better kitchen).

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