Many vegetarians and foodies in Rochester will probably perk up at the mention of the former Atomic Eggplant, now the Owl House, on Marshall Street. Recently I attempted to recreate one of my favorite dishes from the old Eggplant. I can’t remember if it was an appetizer or main course on the menu, or even just an occasional special, but the sweet potato and black bean quesadillas were delectable. I wish I could remember the exact combination of ingredients. Perhaps next time I will add some seasoning to the sweet potatoes. As I write, I’m realizing the Eggplant may have put curry powder in their version of these quesadillas. I welcome suggestions on how to tweak this recipe from anyone who recalls this mouth-watering combination, or anyone who’s tried something similar.
The recipe is pretty basic, though the potatoes and onions take a little while to bake, so start this when you are going to be around the house for a little while. You can also caramelize onions on the stove, but using the oven is less work in my opinion. This version of the recipe will make about eight quesadillas so cut it in half if you are cooking for just a few people.
You’ll need two onions, a few tablespoons of butter, three sweet potatoes, canned black beans, multi-grain quesadilla shells, and a crumbly Mexican cheese such as Queso Fresco (ask the people in the cheese section for help finding it.) For the topping you can use cream cheese, cilantro and/or salsa.
Clean about three large sweet potatoes. Pierce the potatoes with a knife and wrap them in tin foil. Be sure to put a baking sheet underneath the potatoes so they don’t leak sugar all over our oven. Trust me. I know from experience, and it creates a big mess and a lot of smoke. Next, caramelize the onions. This is done by slicing a few onions thinly lengthwise, placing them in a baking dish with a few squares of butter and some salt and pepper, covering them with aluminum foil and baking them at about 400 degrees.
The onions will be done after about 40 minutes…stir them halfway through and take them out when they start to look the color of caramel. The potatoes could take about an hour depending on the size. You want them mashable, but not over-baked…remember you’ll be baking the potatoes again inside the quesadilla shell.
Drain and rinse the black beans. Once the potatoes and onions cool, you can begin assembling your quesadilla. Preheat your oven again to 350 degrees.
Spray one side of the shell with some cooking spray and lay it down on a baking sheet. Mash sweet potato on half the shell. Then add some onions, black beans and cheese, and fold the top of the shell over to close the quesadilla. Continue until you run out of ingredients.
Bake the quesadillas for about 10 minutes, or until golden. Flip them and brown the other side. Once they’ve cooled and enjoy!