Quick Quesadillas with Red Rice

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Bowl with rice and quesadillas

When it’s time to think about planning meals for the week, sometimes it pays to add in some simple, familiar dinners that don’t take a lot of creative brainpower to prepare. You know, julienning, braising, and deglazing is fun but some nights you end up much better equipped to just, like, you know, stir and heat. That’s where quesadillas come in. Pretty much everyone likes them, you can pack them full of nutrition, and they’re straightforward to make. This recipe is optimized for fiber and protein because…that’s what dietitians do.

Top down view of a cutting board covered with quesadilla triangles

If you’d like to see how this recipe fits into a full week’s menu from Trader Joe’s, take a peek at A Week’s Worth of Trader Joe’s Dinners for Less than $100. And for help with shopping, you’ll find a grocery list included below the recipe.


Quick Quesadillas

Bowl with rice and quesadillas

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A crowd favorite, with a focus on protein and fiber.

  • Author: Veg Girl RD
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 25
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Dinner



8 whole-grain or whole wheat tortillas

1 1/3 cups seasoned refried beans

6 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated

1 red pepper, finely diced, about 1 cup

1/2 cup light sour cream


  1. Preheat large skillet or cast iron griddle over medium-low heat. (For my cast iron griddle the quesadillas cook best at a setting of 3 on a scale of 1 to 10.)
  2. Spread 1 tortilla with 1/2 cup seasoned refried beans.
  3. Sprinkle ¼ cup red pepper and 1½ ounces grated cheese evenly over the top.
  4. Top with second tortilla.  Cook until brown and crispy, about 3 minutes on each side.
  5. Cut into quarters and serve each quesadilla with 2 tablespoons light sour cream.


Nutrient content per serving with a recommended accompaniment: 750 calories, 26 g fat, 11 g saturated fat, 50 mg cholesterol, 1740 mg sodium, 100 g carbohydrate, 11 g fiber, 11 g sugar, 31 g protein


  • Serving Size: 1 quesadilla
  • Calories: 500
  • Sugar: 4 g
  • Sodium: 1000 mg
  • Fat: 21 g
  • Saturated Fat: 10 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 52 g
  • Fiber: 9 g
  • Protein: 25 g
  • Cholesterol: 50 mg

Keywords: refried beans, quesadillas, vegetarian

Did you make this recipe?

Share a photo and tag @veggirlRD!

Close up of a stack of cut quesadillas


bowl of quesadillas and rice
Recommended accompaniment per serving: 1 cup Red Rice. If you start the rice in the rice cooker, it’s hands-free so you can start cooking the quesadillas.

Red Rice

Bowl with rice and quesadillas

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Dump it all in and let the rice cooker do the work for you.

  • Author: Veg Girl RD
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 45
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 4 cups 1x



½ cup long grain white rice
½ cup quinoa, rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil
12 oz. mild salsa (feel free to use medium or hot if your taste buds can handle it)
1 cup frozen super sweet corn
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste
1¼ cups water


  1. Put all ingredients in a rice cooker and stir.
  2. Set to white rice setting.
  3. When finished, fluff with fork.


This recipe is inspired by the San Antonio Rice is from a booklet that came with my Aroma rice cooker.


  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 250
  • Sugar: 7 g
  • Sodium: 740 mg
  • Fat: 5 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 48 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 6 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

Keywords: red rice, salsa

Did you make this recipe?

Share a photo and tag @veggirlRD!


Quesadillas lined up on a cutting board

This shopping list was prepared for a trip to Trader Joe’s, but any grocery store should have similar items. It’s been updated in 2020 with current prices and product names.

Quick Quesadillas and Red Rice Shopping List

Two 14.4 oz. TJ’s Organic Wheat Tortillas ($3.69 x 2)
16 oz. TJ’s Organic Refried Pinto Beans Salsa Style ($1.29)
6 oz. Kerrygold Dubliner Cheese ($2.99)
1 Red Bell Pepper ($0.99)
16 oz. TJ’s Light Sour Cream ($2.19)

Recommended Accompaniment:

32 oz. Trader Joe’s (TJ’s) Basmati Rice From India ($2.99)
16 oz. TJ’s Organic White Quinoa ($3.99)
16 oz. TJ’s Chunky Salsa ($1.99)
16 oz. TJ’s Organic Super Sweet Cut Corn ($1.79)

Pantry Staples:

16.9 fl. oz. TJ’s Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil Mediterranean Blend ($3.99)

TOTAL $25.60 with accompaniment

TOTAL $29.59 if you need to buy pantry staples


Collection of groceries on a counter

Nutrition notes:

 – Don’t I need some fat in the pan to get a crunchy quesadilla? My opinion is that you don’t. When I use a non-stick skillet or a cast iron griddle pan, I find that the tortillas crisp up nicely without any added oil. This saves significantly on calories and fat.

 – The rice recipe is vegan?  You probably wouldn’t think of it that way, but all of the ingredients in the rice recipe are plant-based, so officially it’s vegan.

 – The sodium content seems high. That’s for sure. I didn’t get everything (i.e., every nutrient) to come out just right with this meal, mostly because I used some convenient convenience foods. While the sodium and carbohydrates are high, the fiber and protein contributions are pretty great.

 – The calories seem high. An easy way to lower the calories is to use smaller tortillas (Trader Joe’s has lots of options) or reduce the portion of rice from 1 cup to 2/3 cup.

 – There’s a whole grain in there? I replaced half the white rice with quinoa to bump up the whole grain and protein content; the texture it creates is quite nice. And, because quinoa is pale in color, you could sneak this whole grain past any of your picky eaters.

– What about protein? The combination of beans and cheese boosts the protein content of 1 quesadilla to 25 grams. When you add the rice, it pushes that over 30 grams. Not bad for a meatless meal!


Together, these recipes have it all. The level of cooking skill required is low but the nutrient content is high. Give your brain the night off.


Do you have a favorite filling for quesadillas?


This is not a sponsored post. I bought all the groceries on my own and happily consumed them.

5 thoughts on “Quick Quesadillas with Red Rice”

    1. Thanks. I’m thinking most people would enjoy the final product without realizing the rice somehow got healthier.

  1. Pingback: 5 Lessons Learned From The Vegan RD - Veg Girl RD

  2. The rice recipe sounds great. And quesadillas are ways good. This is a meal my meat eating husband called good.

    1. Hi Ouida. I can’t take credit for the rice…it’s the creation of the folks at Aroma who made my rice cooker. It does pair nicely with quesadillas, though!

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