Stop looking at me like that. I know what you’re thinking. Kale? In a quesadilla? Let me explain. Kale is a leafy, green vegetable rich in Vitamins A, C and K. Though kale somewhat resembles spinach, it’s actually a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, a distant relative to cabbage and Brussels sprouts.
When I think of Kale I think of winter: winter coats, slushy streets, fleece blankets. Yet, when I think of avocado, lime and shrimp I think of summer, warm weather and dining at a sidewalk cafe in a beach town, wearing flip flops and a fresh tan.
The month of March, in a way, conjures a similar anomaly for me. It’s technically winter for the first three weeks but spring is so close you can practically taste it. Mother Nature gives us sunshine, jacket-less weekdays and open-window sleeping weather, but she can snatch it all back in an instant by dumping six inches of snow on us so late in the season that you might think it’s an April fool’s joke.
My food cravings in March are similar – I’m ready for salsa, salads, chilled soups and sangria but the weather is calling for stews, scones and strata. A quesadilla with summer’s shrimp and avocado and kale, reminiscent of colder days, offers the best of both worlds.
Shrimp, Kale & Avocado Quesadillas
1 teaspoon olive oil
6 small shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 La Tortilla Factory whole-wheat tortillas
1 small bunch of kale, leaves torn from stems (about 1 cup of kale leaves)
1/2 avocado, sliced
1 small tomato, seeded and diced (optional)
1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar (Monterey Jack, manchego or crumbled queso blanco also work)
Salsa, for serving (optional)
1. In a small saucepan, bring one or two inches of water to a boil. Drop in the peeled and deveined shrimp, turn the heat to simmer, and cook for 2-3 minutes or until shrimp have just turned pink. Let cool slightly and cut into small dice, slicing in half lengthwise and then chopping into bite-sized pieces (Method borrowed from The Perfect Pantry).
2. Heat olive oil in a nonstick saute pan to low-medium. Add kale and cook until wilted. When kale is cooked, remove from pan and set aside. While kale is cooking, lay one tortilla flat on a plate.
3. Top tortilla with half of the grated cheese, shrimp, avocado and torn kale leaves, when finished. Sprinkle it with one-fourth of the grated cheese. Top with half of the shrimp pieces and avocado. Spread the rest of the cheese on top of the shrimp and veggies and top with second tortilla.
4. With a large spatula, move the quesadilla to the heated pan that you used to cook the kale. Cook for 3 minutes, until the bottom tortilla is lightly browned and the cheese on the bottom begins to melt. Flip the quesadilla, and cook 2-3 minutes, until the bottom tortilla is lightly browned. Since you can’t see the bottom, you can estimate based on when the cheese inside has melted.
5. Remove quesadilla from the heat and let it sit until cool enough to handle. With a large, very sharp knife, cut the quesadilla into wedges, and serve with your favorite salsa. Or feel free to slice the rest of your avocado and eat it on the side with a pinch of salt. (Come on, avocado is the good fat!)