It’s taken a while, but my husband is finally totally on board with my efforts to eat a lot less meat. I’m so excited to be able to broaden my family’s meatless meal repertoire.


It’s been a journey of a couple of years to get this point. First we went from conventional beef, chicken and pork to mostly local or organic meats. Then we started cutting back on how much of those we put on our plate at each meal. Now, we’re figuring out how to have entire meals (not just the once-a-week Meatless Monday) with no meat at all.


I’m finally getting to liberally use all the jars of dried beans and cans of cooked beans that are in my pantry. When I made the Slow Cooker White Beans a couple of weeks ago, the dish received a huge thumbs-up from everyone in the house. One of my sons even asked to take them in a thermos to school for lunch. (Unfortunately, they were not very warm by lunchtime and were not very appetizing.)


Over the weekend, I was going to make quesadillas with refried beans, but then I spied a can of black beans next to the refried beans can in the pantry. I know I’m not the first person to say, “Hey, I should put black beans in a quesadilla,” but it’s never been done in my kitchen before.


I checked the crisper to see what vegetables needed to be used up. I had half a red bell pepper and a few wilting stalks of green onion, so I used them. I shredded and mixed two hard cheeses that I had a small amount left of — cheddar and Comte — and made quesadillas.


When I called my family to the table for lunch, I was pleased to see everyone was willing to try the black bean quesadillas without a grumble. They were really good. In fact, my husband and I went out for dinner that night with friends, and the boys asked if they could have them again for dinner. Why not?


Black Beans and Bell Pepper Quesadilla


  • Flour tortilla (white or whole wheat)
  • Cooked black beans (if you’re using them from a can, make sure to rinse them first)
  • Chopped red bell pepper (or use whatever color you have on hand)
  • Chopped green onion
  • Shredded cheese (use whatever hard cheese you have)


  1. cooking quesadillasPlace tortilla on a flat pan over medium heat.
  2. Fill half the tortilla with beans, peppers, green onion and shredded cheese. Fold the empty half of tortilla on top of the filled half (see photo at right).
  3. Cook until the bottom of the tortilla is lightly browned. Flip and cook until the other side is lightly browned.
  4. Remove to plate. Cut with a knife or pizza cutter into triangles.
  5. Serve with salsa, sour cream, guacamole or other accompaniments.

My notes

  • I sautéed the chopped red peppers in olive oil for 5 minutes before putting them in the quesadilla. You can add them raw, but sautéing them softens them a bit and brings out some added sweetness.
  • The varieties of vegetables you can add to something like this are endless. Squash, mushrooms, zucchini, any kind of pepper, tomatoes, eggplant ... it’s perfect for using up small amounts of leftover vegetables. 

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Recipe: Black Bean and Bell Pepper Quesadilla
This nutritious, meatless recipe will have lunch or dinner on the table in less than 15 minutes.