Overflowing in apples from an apple picking excursion? Make a veggie quesadilla with slices of crisp apple, smoked vegan mozzarella, caramelized onions, and baby spinach. It’s the quintessential autumn appetizer.
No matter what the calendar says, it’s officially fall when we take our yearly trip to the apple orchard.
My best friend, Michelle, comes up with her husband and daughters. We drive in tandem to the orchard.
Then we get in line for a tractor ride to the part of the field where the apples are ripe. Armed with wooden baskets, we do some taste-testing, as we load them up.
This has been a tradition for eight years.
Some years it’s too early in the season, and there are no apples. Some years it’s too late in the season, and there are no apples.
And sometimes just like Goldilocks, we get everything just right. This year, we really hit that sweet spot.
The Honeycrisp apples were in season. And the trees were loaded with them. The flavor was a little bit tart, a little bit sweet, with a lot of crunch.
Honeycrisp isn’t the variety of apple David and I typically buy in our day-to-day lives. (We’re a Pink Lady family.) But I don’t know what more you could want from an apple.
Since bringing home our bounty, we’ve been knee deep in apple dishes.
David made an apple berry pie. I made apple chutney for dipping Trader Joe’s vegetable samosas. (They’re one of my favorite vegan Trader Joe’s products.) And of course, we’ve also been eating them out of hand.
Apples are a pretty regular part in David’s work lunches. (Check out this vegan packed lunch post for more ideas!)
When I need something simple & savory, I’ve been making veggie quesadillas.
A quesadilla with smoked vegan mozzarella, slices of crisp apple, caramelized onions, and baby spinach is just the snack that fall needs.
It offers a beautiful balance of smoky and sweet.
Smoked non-dairy cheese
When we were in the Quad Cities recently, I saw Miyoko’s smoked mozzarella in a grocery store there. That one is a little hard to come by where I live. So I had to pick up a package.
If you don’t have access to Miyoko’s smoked mozzarella, no worries. It seems like more and more vegan cheese-makers are making smoky cheeses.
Herbivorous Butcher and Follow Your Heart both have smoked gouda that would work well in today’s recipe for veggie quesadillas.
Add seitan or baked tofu for extra staying power
To move this into meal category, the veggie quesadilla is also good with the addition of Herbivorous Butcher pastrami, vegan ham, or thinly sliced baked tofu.
(The baked teriyaki tofu from Trader Joe’s or Wildwood savory tofu are good options.)
Any of these options make the dish a little more filling. Plus, the vegan pastrami or ham gives an extra layer of smokiness.
A tasty packed lunch option
Obviously a veggie quesadilla is at its melty best straight out of the skillet. But I had some left over after shooting these photos. So I put the triangles into the refrigerator.
When hunger strikes, I’ve been pulling out one or two wedges. They work surprisingly well straight from the refrigerator!
So if you’re looking for something a little different to put in your lunchbox or cooler for a road trip, this is a good option.
How to make this easy recipe
Start by caramelizing onions in a skillet
Put a little bit of oil in a skillet. Then add onions sliced in thin half moons. Allow them to brown in a skillet under a medium heat.
Once they have some color, add a pinch of salt, and turn the skillet to low. Let them cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Then add a drizzle of agave syrup, and give a stir. Let them cook for a couple minutes more, and then turn off the heat.
Assemble the veggie quesadillas
Bring a separate skillet to a medium heat.
Add a tortilla, a couple Tablespoons of shredded smoked non-dairy cheese, thin slices of apple, a few pinches of spinach, and an even layer of caramelized onions.
If you’re feeling extra hungry, add a few slices of seitan pastrami, seitan ham, or baked tofu.
Then add another Tablespoon or so of shredded smoked vegan cheese. Top with another tortilla.
Then toast the quesadilla on both sides, until the tortilla is a nutty shade of brown.
Remove from the skillet, and cut it into triangles. Continue until you’ve made all of the quesadillas.
Keep this recipe in mind for your apple orchard excursions! It’s a great one to quickly whip up after people have worked up an appetite from apple picking.
Veggie quesadilla with apples & caramelized onions
- 1 medium-sized yellow onion cut in half, and sliced into thin half moons
- 1 teaspoon organic canola oil or other neutral-flavored oil
- Pinch salt
- 1 teaspoon agave syrup
- 8 whole wheat or white tortillas
- ¾ cup shredded vegan smoked cheese divided*
- 2 or 3 apples cut into thin slices with core removed
- 1 cup baby spinach
- Optional: 8 slices vegan pastrami or vegan ham or several thin slices of baked tofu
- Bring a non-stick skillet to a medium heat with organic canola oil.
- Break up all of the onion slices, so that they're in single thin moons. Scatter them evenly across the skillet.
- Allow the onion slices to brown. Then add a pinch of salt, stir them with a spatula, and spread them evenly across the skillet again.
- Turn the heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and caramelizing.
- Add agave syrup, and evenly combine it with the onions. Cook for a couple of minutes more. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Bring a separate non-stick skillet to a medium heat. Lay one tortilla in the skillet. Top it with 2 Tablespoons of shredded vegan smoked cheese. Add several slices of thinly cut apple, and a few pinches of baby spinach.
- If you are using any of the optional ingredients, add a couple slices of vegan pastrami or vegan ham, or a few slices of baked tofu.
- Add one more Tablespoon of vegan smoked cheese. Then finish it with another tortilla. Brown on one side. Then flip the quesadilla and brown on the other.
- If the tortillas start browning too quickly before the cheese can melt, lower the heat. It also helps to cover the skillet with a lid, if necessary, to melt the cheese.
- Remove the quesadilla from the skillet to a plate, and move on to making the next one. Continue until all of the quesadillas are made.
- Cut the quesadillas into triangles & serve.
More delicious & savory ways to use apples:
- Fall salad with apples & candied pecans
- Roasted Brussels sprouts with caramelized onions, apples, and pistachios