Vegan apple arugula quesadilla on blue plate

Arugula-Apple Quesadillas with Creamy Vegan Cashew Cheese

Kid-Friendly, Vegan, Gluten-Free

Vegan quesadillas are a perfect meal—simple to make, easy to pack, and so delicious to eat. Once you’ve made the Creamy Vegan Cashew Cheese, this recipe is a breeze. Packed with arugula for a peppery flavor and apples for a crispy texture, it’s sure to be a family favorite. My toddler loves this recipe as is, but for picky eaters, you can choose to skip the garlic or replace arugula with a milder leafy green such as spinach.

The quesadilla filling can be quickly made in a food processor. Just throw in the greens, apples, and garlic and pulse a few times. This makes a finer consistency and takes just a few seconds. But in the spirit of simplifying and using one kitchen appliance per recipe, I chose to chop it up by hand.

Arugula-Apple Quesadillas
with Creamy Vegan Cashew Cheese

  • Servings: 3 quesadillas
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Creamy Vegan Cashew Cheese (or substitute any other creamy cheese)
  • 3 cups arugula (about 2 handfuls), chopped finely
  • 1 medium-sized crispy apple, diced (I prefer Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, or Jazz)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 6 gluten free tortillas (or you can use regular, if you don’t need a gluten-free option)
  • ½ tsp neutral oil (see below for Ingredients 101: Neutral Oil)
  • Optional Toppings:

  • 1 avocado, roughly chopped
  • 1 tomato, roughly chopped
  • ¼ red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges

Directions

  1. To a medium-sized salad bowl, add the chopped arugula, diced apple, and pressed garlic. Mix ingredients together so that everything is well combined. You can do this step in a food processor as well.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium heat with a small amount of oil. Use an oil sprayer, if you have one available. Place one tortilla on the skillet at a time to warm it up then flip it, cooking for about 1 minute per side. Scoop about 2-3 tablespoons of Creamy Cashew Cheese into the middle of the tortilla and use the back of a spoon to spread it. Continue with the rest of the tortillas, adding cheese to each one.
  3. To assemble the quesadilla, place a tortilla with cheese back on the skillet and top with one third of the arugula/apple/garlic mixture, distributing it evenly. Press another tortilla on top (cheesy side down) and heat through.
  4. Optional: To create a quick salad, roughly chop the avocado, tomato, and red onion. Add all ingredients to a small bowl and mix together.
  5. Slice the quesadillas into 8 triangles and serve with the optional salad and a wedge of lime.
  6. These quesadillas store well in the refrigerator and can be reheated in a skillet or, for extra crunch, place in an oven at 350°F for about 10 minutes.


Ingredients 101: Neutral Oils

Oils that don’t have a strong flavor are often used for sautéing and frying because they don’t impact the overall taste of the dish. Some common options include canola oil, grapeseed oil, avocado oil, safflower oil, and refined olive oil. Oils such as coconut and sesame are very strong and should only be used in recipes where you want to add that particular flavor.

One thing to consider with oils is their smoke point—the temperature at which the fat begins to burn and break down. Avoid heating any oil above this temperature. Generally, the more processed an oil is, the higher the smoke point. So a refined olive oil is a better option for frying than extra virgin olive oil.

Of the neutral oils, avocado and canola can tolerate the highest temperatures. You can see a list of other oils and their smoke points to compare. As a guideline, sautéing and frying in a pan is generally done at 350°F and above.

Lightly frying the tortillas in oil helps them to be more flexible, which is especially important if they are gluten-free. It also adds some crunch to the quesadillas. I generally prefer to go light on the oil, given that it is so calorie-dense, and use a sprayer instead of pouring oil directly into the skillet. My favorite brand is the Prepara Oil Sprayer because it hasn’t clogged a single time, unlike several others that I’ve tried.

Kitchen 101: Chef’s Knife

The chef’s knife is the most important tool in your kitchen and it’s worth assessing if you should invest in a high quality one. Many of us have a set of knives that was gifted or purchased years ago and we haven’t thought about it since. But considering that almost every single meal starts with chopping, dicing, or slicing—a good knife is well worth your investment. 

There’s no single “top” knife out there, it’s simply a matter of what you like. You can research, read reviews, and consider suggestions, but your best bet is to go to a store where you can touch, hold, and maybe even try out a variety of knives. The reason it’s so important is that the weight, design, and shape of the handle will all have an impact. Select a knife that:

  • Feels comfortable in your hand
  • Is sharp right out of the box
  • Cuts easily through vegetables (test it out with tomatoes and carrots, you shouldn’t feel like you’re sawing back and forth)

When selecting my chef’s knife for myself, I looked at lighter knives and wanted to make sure that maintenance would be easy. My Global 7-inch knife is the only chef’s knife that I use and I sharpen it at home.