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Mushroom and Zucchini Quesadillas with Cilantro Pesto

Mushroom Zucchini Quesadillas with Cilantro Pesto sitting on table

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 and 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 and Zucchini Quesadillas with Cilantro Pesto

Mushroom and Zucchini Quesadillas with Cilantro Pesto

Cilantro pesto adds a fresh, spicy flavor to these easy veggie quesadillas.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 quesadillas


Cilantro Pesto

  • 1 cup cilantro leaves packed
  • 1/4 cup raw walnuts
  • zest from 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1 jalapeño pepper 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 cup shredded Monterrey Jack or Mexican Blend cheese
  • salsa sour cream, and lime wedges, for serving


Cilantro Pesto

  • Combine all ingredients in food processor and process until mixture is well-combined and reaches a pesto-like consistency.

Mushroom and Zucchini Quesadillas

  • 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.
  • Spread half of each tortilla with pesto. Divide vegetables and cheese onto pesto-side of tortillas and fold in half.
  • 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.


Serving: 1quesadilla
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  • Reply
    July 12, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    One aspect of cilantro-hating not mentioned yet has nothing to do with the taste but with the effects. Cilantro absolutely tears up my stomach and, unless the amount I’ve had is extremely minimal, that discomfort lasts for days. I read that about 1 in 10 people can’t tolerate it, whether for the taste or other issues it causes. All this being said, I have to say I simply don’t understand mushroom haters! And an aversion to avo? Oh, you poor thing! Those are two of my favorites! I guess the point is, when we entertain, we need to be mindful that not everyone loves what we love or can tolerate what we tolerate. P.S. Both Julia Child and Ina Garten are cilantro haters, so I’m in good company 🙂

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      July 14, 2014 at 4:34 pm

      That definitely does not sound pleasant! I’ll never understand mushroom haters either – it seems like people who hate cilantro and people who hate mushrooms are the most passionate about their hatred, although since I started blogging, I’ve discovered that there are also lots of people who really, really hate bananas.

  • Reply
    September 24, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    These were delicious!! Even my picky husband and toddler loved these!! I didn’t tell my husband what was in them of course. 😉 I just sat it in front of him and he was so excited to see a quesadilla. Then he devoured it and asked for another one! Win!

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      September 30, 2014 at 4:19 pm

      Woo hoo! 😀 I’m so happy to hear they were a hit!

  • Reply
    Nicki Escudero
    April 28, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    Hi, Kiersten, this was a really wonderful recipe! Thanks so much for sharing — mmm! Nicki

  • Reply
    May 10, 2015 at 1:43 am

    Delicious!! Making the pesto is so worth it, it brings the whole thing to a different level. Thank you!

  • Reply
    May 12, 2015 at 8:08 pm

    I made a few changes to the cilantro pesto (I do PeaPod deliveries here because it’s suuuuper hard to get to the store — they were out of cilantro so I just made due with what I had on hand, and my garlic went bad overnight 🙁 weep weep) — I added one serrano pepper (because I love love love heat) and used mint + basil leaves and used garlic salt instead of adding salt separately and the garlic clove and hoooly macaroni was it delicious! I used a spicy Monterrey jack cheese (surprise) but aside from that followed these instructions pretty well.

    In a nutshell, YUM! 🙂 I’ve been making tons of the recipes on this site lately and I have to say, so far this is one of my favorites (super easy to put together and with a little modification gave me a nice slow heat I was craving)

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      May 14, 2015 at 3:19 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed it! How the heck does garlic go bad though–I don’t think that’s ever happened to me! 😉

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