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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
    Cassie | Bake Your Day
    February 26, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    Great post, Kiersten! I have one piece of cast iron that I love but I don’t cook on it nearly enough. I think I’ll be making this quesadilla this week to change that. I love this one!!

  • Reply
    Kelly @ A Girl Worth Saving
    February 26, 2013 at 11:30 pm

    I only use cast iron ans stainless steel to cook. I have a heavy 12″ round pan that keeps my arms strong ๐Ÿ™‚ One day I’ll have to splurge on a few pieces by Le Creuset.

  • Reply
    February 27, 2013 at 1:50 am

    Oh I love this, they look so tasty. Arrriba!

  • Reply
    February 27, 2013 at 11:06 am

    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.

    • Reply
      February 28, 2013 at 1:49 pm

      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. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Jen @TheFitHousewife
    February 27, 2013 at 11:29 am

    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 ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply
      February 28, 2013 at 1:47 pm

      It really does take some getting used to! I was so frustrated at first.

  • Reply
    Kim Beaulieu
    February 27, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    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.

    • Reply
      February 28, 2013 at 1:47 pm

      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.

  • Reply
    February 27, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    Sarah @ Play 2 Learn with Sarah
    February 27, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    I really need to start replacing my cookware too. And thanks for the bonus recipe! Quinoa is a hard sell at my house, but maybe hiding it will help! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Reply
    February 27, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    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..

    • Reply
      February 28, 2013 at 1:40 pm

      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. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    February 27, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    Diana @ Eating Made Easy
    February 28, 2013 at 7:27 pm

    I’m in the market for new pots/pans and have been concerned with my non-stick pans so it’s nice to hear first hand that you love cast iron and I think I’d go the enamel route too.

    • Reply
      March 1, 2013 at 1:21 pm

      I think enameled cast iron is a nice happy medium between the regular cast iron and non-stick cookware. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    March 1, 2013 at 1:34 am

    That looks really good! I love broccoli. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    March 1, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    What kind of tortillas are those? Looks like they’ve got little seeds in them… yumm!

    • Reply
      March 2, 2013 at 10:25 am

      They’re flax tortillas from Trader Joe’s. They’re tasty, but a wee bit crumbly.

  • Reply
    Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen
    March 1, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    I’m a big fan of cast iron cookware and my le Creuset pieces are my favorites.

  • Reply
    Shell Fruscione
    March 2, 2013 at 6:46 am

    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.}

    • Reply
      March 2, 2013 at 10:16 am

      I think you’ll be happy with the cast iron–they last SO much longer than the non-stick stuff!

  • Reply
    March 2, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    what a brilliant idea… omg! I bet that tastes heavenly. I wanna eat that without the quesadillas, great protein meal. Gorgeous blog you have here.

  • Reply
    March 3, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    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!

    • Reply
      March 4, 2013 at 8:51 am

      Cat has a giveaway for a Le Creuset skillet on her blog right now. That’s kind of like a Le Creuset fairy, right? ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Robin {Mom Foodie}
    March 5, 2013 at 7:21 am

    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.

  • Reply
    March 20, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    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. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks girl!

    • Reply
      March 20, 2013 at 7:39 pm

      Yay! I hope she likes them! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Brenda Williams
    March 30, 2013 at 10:11 am

    OH WOW…what an idea. Got to try this soon.

  • Reply
    Gerri Tiffin
    April 1, 2013 at 11:41 am

    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.

  • Reply
    September 18, 2013 at 9:48 am

    I made these last night for dinner and they were AWESOME!! xo

    • Reply
      September 19, 2013 at 7:18 pm

      I’m glad you liked them! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    October 25, 2013 at 2:32 am

    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!

    • Reply
      October 27, 2013 at 7:19 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed the quesadillas! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you!

  • Reply
    January 5, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    Can’t wait to make these! Just found your site and I have bookmarked so many recipes already! Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    February 25, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    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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