Spinach Pizza Quesadilla Recipe

Spinach Pizza Quesadilla | Pamela Salzman

When I am hungry, I am not picky.  I can find a lot of different options in my refrigerator or pantry that will do the trick.  Give me last night’s roasted sweet potato or a couple dates stuffed with pecans and coconut or even a sprouted grain tortilla smeared with almond butter and wrapped around a banana.  Instant gratification.  My kids don’t yet have the ability to see the potential lurking in our kitchen that I do.  That or they are incredibly lazy.  While we are blessed to have an ample supply of food in our house, my children still manage to complain…”there’s never anything to eat around here!”  I know.  Insane.

preparing spinach

In my former life, this may have made me feel inadequate, like I’m a bad mom.  I don’t want to have the house where there’s nothing good to eat!  But I’m onto my kids.  I can read between the lines.  They’re not whining about the lack of food.  They’re whining about the lack of prepared-ready-to-eat-tasty-not-leftovers-from-dinner food.  And serve it on a silver platter while you’re at it!  I’m sure my kids would love it if I had the pantry stocked with orange, crispy cheese-flavored curls or boxed cookies.  But that’s not food and it sure won’t help them get through their homework or a 90-minute soccer practice.  Unfortunately, despite what you might think, I don’t have the time to cook up homemade snacks all day, as much as I would truly enjoy that.


Instead, I have taken some advice from the Chinese proverb,”Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day.  Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.”  The point is that I think it’s more beneficial to my kids if they learn how to make a thing or two in kitchen especially when I’m not available to whip up something fabulous.  This has been a s-l-o-o-o-w process, which I might need to speed up since Daughter #1 is supposed to be leaving for college in a year and a half (gasp.)  Among other things, I have taught the girls to make one of their favorite snacks/lunches of the last 10 years.  Pizza Quesadillas is a very popular and oft-requested after-school snack in our house, and not just by my girls, but their friends, as well.  They take minutes to make and I usually have the simple ingredients on hand.  I don’t know that they’re any better for you than a typical quesadilla, which is merely cheese (cheddar or jack) melted in a flour tortilla.  This is just a fun twist on a quesadilla and a pizza, where you use mozzarella and also a little marinara sauce.  I can’t help but sneak in a few veggies, usually leftover from the night before.  Anything with which you might top a pizza is fair game here.  In general, I love using whole grain tortillas, either sprouted grain or whole spelt, both of which are more nutritious and more digestible than white flour tortillas.  Are you gluten-free?  There are fantastic brown rice tortillas by Food For Life!   With all that fiber and protein, the girls fill up more quickly than if they had eaten a mess of packaged snacks and they also get the benefits of long-lasting energy until dinner time.

get that cheese melted

You my have noticed that I haven’t mentioned the apple of my eye, Mr. Picky in this post.  I have taught him how to make a couple of snacks including smoothies, acai bowls, toast, and peanut butter and jelly on a rice cake.  But cheese is just not on his “must try list.”  One of his new years resolutions is to be less picky, which I find very endearing.  But in the same breath he also added that he would sooner try eating insects before he ate cheese.  Did I mention “s-l-o-o-o-w process?”

snack time!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Spinach Pizza Quesadilla
Serves: makes 4 quesadillas
  • If you need to make some sautéed spinach:
  • 1 Tablespoon unrefined extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 pound frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed of excess water (I do this in a thin, clean dish towel)
  • sea salt to taste
  • 4 whole spelt, sprouted grain or your favorite tortillas
  • ½ cup marinara sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella or vegan cheese (Daiya is my favorite vegan cheese)
  • Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese, to taste
  1. Preheat your griddle to 350 degrees or a large, heavy skillet over medium heat.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a medium sized skillet over medium heat, add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add spinach and a pinch or two of salt and break up with wooden spoon or spatula. Sauté until heated through, about 5 minutes.
  3. If you are using a cast iron or non-stock griddle or skillet, place a tortilla on the griddle or skillet dry without any oil or butter. If using stainless steel, you may need a teaspoon of oil to prevent sticking. Spread 2 Tablespoons of marinara sauce on half of the tortilla. Follow with ¼ cup mozzarella cheese, a sprinkling of pecorino or parmesan, if desired, and ¼ cup spinach mixture on top of cheese. Fold the tortilla in half to make a quesadilla.
  4. Allow quesadilla to sit on griddle until underside is lightly golden brown and flip over. Cook until cheese is melted.
  5. Slice in half or in thirds and serve.
This could be made with any leftover veggies, other options include: mushrooms, peppers, broccoli, kale. It also makes a nice lunch for school if your kids don’t mind eating it at room temperature.


Eggplant caprese recipe

Ok, my kitchen is more or less back together except for a few cabinets, and I couldn’t be happier.  Never mind that every other room in the house has its contents spilled out into random hallways or in the living room which we never use.  It doesn’t even bother me that we are all still sharing one bathroom … I can cook again!  Takeout everyday was putting me in a cranky mood — and when Mama Bear ain’t happy, no one’s happy!  I think the novelty of eating out even wore off with Mr. Picky, although my husband keeps trying to remind me that I was “only” inconvenienced for five days.  Talk to the hand, dude.  Listen, I had to make a fruit crisp on the front porch Wednesday.

I did a great big shop at the grocery store and the farmer’s market on Tuesday and I was giddy with all the possibilities.  I think one of the reasons I get so excited when summer produce hits the stands is that I wait for it all year long.  Local peaches, corn and tomatoes are special!  I especially have a thing for summer tomatoes, and I’m hoping you do too, since there are lots of tomato recipes in the pipeline.  You know that once you’ve had a truly vine-ripened, sun-kissed tomato, you can never go back to those hard, tasteless orbs from the supermarket that have nothing to do with a real summer tomato.  I remember as child going into my father’s garden in the summer with a salt shaker to eat tomatoes with salt right off the vine.  Heaven.

Tomatoes make this girl’s heart grow fonder when they are paired with basil.  This classic combination is a favorite of mine and one I use in so many different dishes.  Just this past week, I posted recipes for pasta with cherry tomato sauce, as well as a frittata with garden vegetables, including tomato and basil.  In last summer’s classes, I taught pasta alla checca, which is a raw tomato and basil sauce.  Of course, the traditional salad on every Italian menu is a Caprese, which is nothing more than alternating slices of good quality tomato and mozzarella cheese with basil, olive oil and salt.  Several years ago I was in Italy with my family visiting a friend of my father’s on the Amalfi Coast.  We had all eaten a large lunch that day and weren’t really hungry for a full dinner, so our hosts pulled tomatoes and basil from the garden,  freshly made local mozzarella from the fridge, local olive oil and olives, and some bread from a bakery down the road.  I know it may not sound like much, but every ingredient was the best I had ever had, and to this day I consider that meal one of my favorites ever.

One of my go-to side dishes in the summer is simply grilled or roasted eggplant slices.  Occasionally I’ll add some mint and feta, but a few years ago I taught this recipe, which is essentially eggplant-meets-Caprese.  Eggplant is such a sponge and loves all that juicy-tomato-and-olive-oil-goodness.  I don’t eat very much dairy, so instead of big slices of cheese, I have added a few cubes mixed in with the tomato and basil mixture.  In this photograph I used fresh buffalo mozzarella, which is a little milkier and lighter tasting, but you can use whatever cheese you’ve got, including burrata, feta or goat cheese — or none at all!  I usually try to teach my girls to eat like civilized ladies, but I have found myself many a time eating this with my hands as an eggplant taco.  Like the other night when we couldn’t find the flatware.  It’s probably still in the living room…

5.0 from 2 reviews
Eggplant Caprese
Serves: 6
  • 2 medium eggplant, unpeeled, sliced crosswise into ¾-inch slices
  • 2 Tablespoons unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil + more for brushing eggplant
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • 2 cups chopped, seeded tomatoes
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 small handful fresh basil leaves, julienned
  • 4 ounces (or more if you like) fresh mozzarella, cubed
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line 2 baking pans or cookie sheets with parchment paper. Place the eggplant slices on the paper and brush them generously on both sides with olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper, then roast for 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool.
  2. Mix together the tomato, garlic, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the basil. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper. Set aside.
  3. To serve, arrange the cooked eggplant slices, slightly overlapping, on a serving platter. Scatter the mozzarella chunks on top and spoon over the salsa. Remove the garlic cloves.