Welcome to Eat Your Food!, our new biweekly column of real meals made for real kids by Nick Evans!
Broccoli is a stereotypical “difficult food” for kiddos, but I have to admit that my three-year old actually loves broccoli and will eat it most days.
This may or may not have to do with the fact that I told him that LeBron James eats A LOT of broccoli. (I don’t know if this is true or not. Lies are fine at the dinner table, people.)
Despite the fact that I just told you lies at the dinner table are okay (in the name of good nutrition—let me clarify!), I tend to not love recipes that “sneak” veggies into other things. I like my kids to know they are eating veggies and learn, instead, through constant exposure and hounding, to love them.
It’s sort of working.
So, while I tell my kids these are “Trees and Cheese” quesadillas, they don’t hide anything. They are stuffed full of blanched broccoli and cheddar cheese. I do recommend chopping the broccoli pretty finely so it mixes in with the cheese and there are no huge bites of veggies. That just makes it easier for little mouths to eat these quesadillas.
THE DAD ADD
To kick these quesadillas up a notch for the adults, I like to mince up a quick, fresh pico de gallo. It’s spicy and bright, and cuts through the trees and cheese. The other easy Dad Add here would be hot sauce, obviously, but this pico is only a little extra work for a lot of extra texture and flavor. It makes the quesadilla a full meal for me.
Bonus points if you can get your kiddos to try the pico on a corner of quesadilla or a spare tortilla chip!
I served these Trees and Cheese Quesadillas to my 3 1/2-year old boy and my 19-month old daughter.
My son, the usual broccoli lover, ate one segment, said it was good, and then had to go attend to his fire truck. So it goes.
My daughter ate exactly zero bites of the quesadilla, but did eat all of the avocado and painted the sour cream on the table in the shape of the letter F. She doesn’t know her letters yet . . . or does she?! She hates any food right now that isn’t dairy or fruit, so this is about right.
More Quesadilla Recipes to Try
Broccoli and Cheddar Quesadillas Recipe
We suspect you can prepare this with frozen broccoli, but we haven't tried it and we offer this caveat: Make sure you gently squeeze as much water out of the broccoli as possible once it's defrosted, and blot it with paper towels or a clean dish towel.
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 12 ounces grated cheddar cheese (about 4 loosely-packed cups)
- 4 large 12-inch flour tortillas
- Vegetable oil, for tortillas
- 1 medium avocado, sliced thin or chopped for serving
- Sour cream, for serving
DAD ADD: Quick Spicy Pico de Gallo
- 1/2 red onion, minced
- 1 ripe tomato, minced
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
- Fresh lime juice
- Pinch of salt
1 Blanch and chop the broccoli: Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli and blanch until it’s bright green and fork tender, about 3 minutes. Then drain the broccoli, let it cool slightly and chop it finely.
2 Make the pico de gallo: If you’re using the Dad Add, now would be a good time to chop that stuff up (highly recommended). Combine the minced ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
3 Preheat a large skillet over medium-low heat. If you haven't already grated your cheese, do it now.
4 Assemble and cook the quesadillas: Brush one tortilla lightly with vegetable oil on one side and add it to the warmed skillet, oiled side down. Sprinkle a loosely packed cup of grated cheese (about 3 ounces) on one half of the tortilla. Top with 1/2 cup of chopped broccoli.
Fold the tortilla over to cover the filling and form a half-circle. Cook the quesadilla for about 3 minutes per side until it’s crispy and the cheese is melted.
Repeat with making the other quesadillas. (Though if you’re good—and your skillet is large enough—you can make two at a time in the same skillet!)
5 Serve the quesadillas: Cut the quesadillas into triangular segments, and serve with sour cream, avocado, and the spicy pico!
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