Vegan Buffalo Chickpea Quesadillas
One of my favorite easy meals is quesadillas, but this is the first time I have posted a recipe for them. That’s because the ones I usually make are super simple. Like two-ingredient, store-bought vegan cheese and store-bought tortillas, simple. I don’t think I can call t a recipe. But, this past weekend, I had a little extra time on my hand, so I experimented with upgrading my quesadillas by making these Vegan Buffalo Chickpea Quesadillas.
Honestly, these were so freakin’ delicious that I’ll never be going back to my simple cheese quesadillas. Sure, they take a little more effort and time, but they are SO worth it. And they really don’t take thaaat much effort and time. As long as you’ve got your cashews soaked in advance, you can make these spicy, cheesy quesadillas in a half hour.
Let’s talk ingredients, shall we? I married the oh-so-popular Buffalo flavor that people associate with hot wings with my favorite plant protein (chickpeas) to make a hearty and delicious mashed chickpea buffalo sauce filling. Then I combined that filling with an irresistible Mexican cheese sauce for a match made in heaven.
I wanted the “buffalo” flavor to be pronounced but not overwhelming, which is often the case in buffalo-flavored foods. I used Frank’s Xtra hot sauce for that traditional, spicy “buffalo” flavor, but feel free to use Frank’s original sauce. If you can’t find Frank’s hot sauce, you can make your own hot sauce (this is a copycat recipe for Frank’s hot sauce), or use Cholula, Tabasco, or any hot sauce of your preference. Since the hot sauce gets mixed with (vegan) butter, you’ll want a hot sauce that’s pretty vinegar-y to balance out the butter.
Once the hot sauce is mixed in with some melted vegan butter and spices, it gets folded into the mashed chickpea mixture. Canned chickpeas make this recipe a quick, weeknight-friendly meal, but to give them extra flavor, I first sauté an onion in a tiny bit of olive oil.
Now for the Mexican cheese sauce! This is the EASIEST cheese sauce ever, and it really tastes like a Mexican-flavored cheese dip. The hardest part of this recipe is remembering to soak your cashews in advance. If you find that you’ve forgotten to soak your cashews overnight, you can soak them in boiling water for 1 hour.
Simply add the cashews to a high-powered blender along with some vegan yogurt, salsa, spices, and nutritional yeast, and you’re all done! Even if you don’t make these quesadillas, you should definitely add this cheese sauce to your recipe repertoire because it’s insanely good (and healthy!).
When making the quesadillas, to achieve that perfectly crisp, crunchy texture on the outside of the quesadilla, be sure to weigh down the quesadilla with another skillet while it cooks in the pan. After a few minutes, flip the quesadilla and do the same for another minute or two. You’ll be in quesadilla heaven, I promise! I was able to get 4 large quesadillas (I used pretty large flour tortillas), but if your tortillas are on the smaller side, you’ll get 5-6 quesadillas.
I hope you try out these Vegan Buffalo Chickpea Quesadillas because they’re incredibly delicious and I guarantee you will fall in love with them!
What you need to make this recipe
Vegan Buffalo Chickpea Quesadillas
Vegan, Gluten-Free Option
Makes 4 large quesadillas
Mexican Cheese Sauce
1 cup (~120g) raw cashews, soaked overnight (or soaked in boiling water for 1 hour)
1/2 cup (~112g) vegan unsweetened plain yogurt (I used this one)
2 tablespoons water or vegetable broth
1/2 cup (~120g) salsa of choice, but not a chunky variety (I used this one)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
Buffalo Chickpea Filling
1/4 cup (~56g) vegan butter
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
A pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
A pinch of kosher salt
2 teaspoons coconut sugar or brown sugar
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 15-ounce can chickpeas (~440g), drained and rinsed
1 bunch of scallions (~6-8 scallions), white and light green parts only, sliced thinly
8 large flour tortillas (can use gluten-free tortillas like this)
Prepare the Mexican Cheese Sauce. Drain the soaked cashews and pat dry. Add the cashews, along with the remaining sauce ingredients, to a high-powered blender. Blend until thick, creamy, and smooth. The sauce should be quite thick and creamy, but if you’d like it to be even thicker, add the sauce to a saucepan over medium-low heat for a few minutes to thicken up slightly.
Next, prepare the Buffalo Chickpea Filling. Melt the vegan butter in a heatproof bowl in the microwave (or in a saucepan on the stove). To the melted butter, add the hot sauce, garlic powder, cayenne pepper (if using), salt, and sugar. Whisk until the hot sauce and butter are completely incorporated.
Pour the drained and rinsed chickpeas in a medium bowl and roughly mash them with a fork or a potato masher, leaving some beans intact.
Heat the 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat and once the oil is shimmering, add the diced onion. Cook for 4 minutes or until softened, then add the garlic and cook for an additional 1 minute.
To the onions, add the buffalo-butter sauce and the mashed chickpeas, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, then turn off the heat. Mix in the sliced scallions and stir to combine. Wipe out the skillet so you can reuse it for making the quesadillas.
Assemble the quesadillas. Spread an even layer of the Mexican Cheese Sauce (1/4-1/3 cup) onto one of the eight tortillas. Arrange about 1/2 cup of the Buffalo Chickpea Filling on top. Place another tortilla on top to cover.
Lightly grease the large skillet with a bit of oil and place over medium heat. Once hot, add the prepared quesadilla to the skillet. Place a smaller skillet on top of the quesadilla so that it presses down on the quesadilla, resulting in a nice crispy exterior. Cook the quesadillas for 3 minutes, then flip and cook another 1-2 minutes, or until both sides are crispy and nicely browned. Repeat with the remaining sauce, filling, and tortillas.