Grilled Vegetable Quesadillas with Goat Cheese and Pesto

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Summer is almost upon us, and the season brings with it so many exciting things. It’s finally time for the onslaught of refreshing cocktails, outdoor meals, exposed skin, and beach hair. It is also music festival season. I am regularly reminded of this last fact because I am somehow still on the “Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival” email list. I can’t bring myself to unsubscribe since I did spend a lovely four days there in June of 2008 with three of my besties, Maisie, Bay, and Serena. (No, I am not referring to myself in the third person. There was another Serena.) Every year around this time, I am filled with nostalgia (and nausea) thinking about my experience in Manchester, Tennessee.

For those of you questioning how well I fit in at a music festival like Bonnaroo…I resent that. I’m incredibly adaptable, I’m an excellent camper (please see here, for proof of my outdoorsiness), and I’m a pretty decent noodler. Also, my hair dreads much faster than the normal human being’s, which gives me a leg up on all the other wannabe hippies. Depending on the humidity, after two days of not shampooing my locks I get some pretty impressive baby dreads going on. Please contain your jealousy.

Looking back, I am proud to say that I really gave my all at Bonnaroo, especially on the fashion front. I bought a smocked tie-dye dress the first afternoon (which seemed like an excellent wardrobe choice at the time), and I proceeded to wear it for the remaining three days thinking that I looked “laid back” and “boho-chic.” In retrospect, I looked more “hot mess” than anything else, but hindsight is 20/20. I also failed to notice that “TYEDYEMARY.COM” was written in giant black letters on the back of the dress until I got the pictures from my disposable camera developed two months later. I guess all I can say is, you’re welcome, Tye Dye Mary.

Our group rose with the sun every morning (since it was too fucking hot to stay in our tent past 7am) and promptly began mixing cocktails. We whiled away the morning hours playing Scattergories, jamming to our neighbors’ Reggae beats, and observing the general hilarity of hippies on parade. We then boldly set out for the stages in the afternoon to enjoy “the music and arts” portion of the festival. I didn’t watch so many concerts as much as I dirt napped in front of stages, but my body was physically at some really awesome shows!


Obviously, I loved a lot of things about Bonnaroo. The music was great, the atmosphere was overly friendly, and I could drink cocktails and take naps wherever my little heart desired. The only truly disappointing element was the food. Good God, the food. To be fair, this was BDE (Before Domestic Era), and our group did not have the foresight to bring anything to cook. We were so focused on making sure that we didn’t run out of booze that we completely forgot to buy solid sustenance. Therefore, we were forced to purchase all of our meals from the festival vendors…

Full disclosure, I love me some greasy food at a concert, and I would probably sell my firstborn for a plate of cheese fries after seven vodka-Gatorades. However, a diet of street meat, funnel cake, and other fried foods starts to get to you after a while. By Day 3, I felt like I was dying. It may or may not have been because my liver was shutting down, but I chose to attribute it to my diet. I vaguely remember sitting Indian-style in front of the Metallica concert, eating a hot dog with my sweater tied around my ears (Metallica was scary and loud), and wishing that I were anywhere else, eating anything else.

Therefore, when Maisie and I stumbled across a hippie vegetarian stand selling grilled vegetable quesadillas later that day, I felt as if we had won the nutritional lottery. Looking at those hippies grilling real live vegetables seemed too good to be true. A music festival mirage, if you will. When they handed me my whole-wheat vegetable quesadilla, I felt as if my heart would burst with gratitude. In the moment, that quesadilla was the best thing I had ever tasted. Ever. It was probably psychological, but I felt completely rejuvenated after eating it, and Maisie and I practically skipped to our next concert. We were even able to stay up to see Kanye at 2am, and we didn’t cry or pass out like some of our peers when he was 2 hours late to the stage. (Kanye is a dick.) Those quesadillas clearly had magical powers.

Since I shall most likely never return to Bonnaroo, I figured I would indulge my nostalgia by recreating the miracle quesadillas. When I really think about it, those quesadillas had some very weird things in them. I’m pretty sure there were unexpectedly crunchy carrot rounds involved, and based on the hippie purveyors of the quesadillas, there is also a distinct possibility that the cheese used in those bad boys was Daiya or some other scary vegan shit. Fortunately, I left out the carrots and used real cheese in these Grilled Vegetable Quesadillas with Goat Cheese and Pesto. You’re welcome.

Grilled-vegetable-quesadillas-with-goat-cheese-and-pesto-2Bursting with fresh grilled vegetables, melted mozzarella and creamy goat cheese, these are the classiest quesadillas that you’ll ever come across. The hint of garlicky sweetness from the basil pesto adds a little bit of je ne sais quoi and makes these quesadillas completely irresistible. I’m pleased to report that you can feel good about eating them too since they’re made on whole-grain tortillas.

Cooking quesadillas directly on the grill adds a smoky flavor and makes them a slightly unexpected and delicious choice for summer grilling. While they’re a great option for a quick weeknight dinner, I also like the idea of slicing them up and serving them as an appetizer at an outdoor cocktail party or Memorial Day barbecue. And for those of you attending a music festival in the near future, these quesadillas are actually a practical camping meal if you happen to be one of those fancy hippies with a portable grill. Happy summer, friends!

Grilled Vegetable Quesadillas with Pesto and Goat Cheese: (Serves 4)

1 small zucchini, diagonally sliced into ¼ inch pieces
1 small summer squash, diagonally sliced into ¼ inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed
1 small red onion, sliced into ¼ inch rounds
1 large Portobello mushroom, cleaned and sliced into ½ inch pieces
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
white pepper
4 whole grain tortillas (I used La Tortilla Factory Smart & Delicious Soft Wraps)
4 tablespoon pesto, divided
2 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
4 oz goat cheese, divided


Preparing your quesadillas:

-Start by preparing your vegetables. Drizzle the sliced vegetables with 2 tbsp olive oil and season with salt and white pepper.


-Place vegetables on the grill (or in a grill pan) and cook for approximately 3 minutes on each side or until just tender.



-Remove the vegetables from the grill and let cool for 5 minutes. Cut the grilled vegetables into roughly 1-inch pieces and set aside.

Chopped-grilled-vegetables-To assemble each quesadilla: Spread a tortilla with 1 tablespoon pesto. Sprinkle ¼ cup mozzarella cheese on ½ of the tortilla. Add ¼ of the grilled vegetables and crumble 1 oz of goat cheese over them. Sprinkle another ¼ cup mozzarella on top and fold the tortilla over to close.

Grilled-Vegetable-Quesadillas-with-Goat-Cheese-step-by-step-recipePlace the quesadilla on a lightly oiled grill (or grill pan) and cook for 3 minutes on each side until the cheese in fully melted.


-Slice and serve the classiest quesadillas ever.


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  1. Meredith Eng on July 8, 2020 at 6:04 am

    I pre-made a ton of these for a big family party and they were a huge hit! I did the cooking in batches–the day before the party, I grilled the veggies. The morning of, I assembled the quesadillas and individually wrapped each one in plastic wrap. Then, shortly before the party, I cooked them in a cast iron skillet and kept them warm in a pan in the oven. I also ate a few straight out of the pan and they were delightful. This process probably isn’t necessary if you’re just making one recipe, but I quadrupled it, so I had to find a way to make things more manageable (and it totally was).

    I used a Trader Joe’s pesto (because I forgot about the Dude Diet pesto, which I love, until after I bought it) and subbed the Trader Joe’s Quattro Fromaggio cheese blend for the mozz (I’m sorry I always do this to you but it’s so good!). Everyone–from children to the elderly–were obsessed with them. Highly recommend!

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