Guest Post: Nicole Franzen of La Buena Vida

We’ve asked a few friends and fellow-bloggers to drop-in and share while we take some time to get to know this amazing little person, Hudson, whom we’ve just welcomed to the world. We’ll no doubt be dropping in here and on from time to time, but we’re so grateful for these wonderful guest posts and hope you enjoy them as well. 

Nicole is the talented photographer behind La Buena Vida, a collection of images from her kitchen and elsewhere. In fact, I’m always turning up to see what restaurant or destination Nicole has captured, well-knowing I’ll want to follow her lens’ lead. We share an affinity for avocado, so I was thrilled when she shared her recipe for Quesadillas with Cilantro Pesto, Fresh Pico de Gallo & Avocado–a staple that should carry us through the early months of parenthood…

While growing up, I loved quesadillas. Their cheesy center is easily comparable to a grilled cheese and who doesn’t love that! Growing up on the West coast, Mexican food is prominent and we eat it often. This version is a take on one from one of my favorite restaurants in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I love whole wheat tortillas and they make for a healthier version than their delicious cousins, the corn and white flour tortillas. A nice sharp cheese is fantastic. Making fresh pico de gallo really does make a huge difference. Freshness is key here–along with bright, acidic flavors that are hard not to love. A perfect balance of salt and acid paired with the creamy cheese and avocado. A great way to dress up the average quesadilla. You can prepare plain ones for the kids. It’s also great for entertaining. You could easily grill them for an easy outdoor summer bite.
Quesadillas with Cilantro Pesto, Fresh Pico de Gallo & Avocado
Whole wheat tortillas
Monterey jack cheese
Butter (to coat pan)
bunch of cilantro
handful of pine nuts
olive oil
4 vine ripe tomatoes
half of a yellow onion
half of a jalapeño
For Cilantro Pesto
Toast a handful of pine nuts in a small saute pan on low heat, turning constantly. In a blender or using a hand mixer, blend one bunch of cilantro, a handful of pine nuts, a drizzle of olive oil, juice from half a lemon, sea salt & pepper. Blend till smooth. Taste and adjust if needed.
For Pico de Gallo
Cut four tomatoes into small bite site pieces. Add half of a jalapeño minced, seeds removed. You can add more jalapeño if you prefer it more spicy. Also add half of an onion, minced. If you like additional cilantro, you can add some. Squeeze half of a lime into the mix. Season with salt. Taste and adjust.
For Quesadillas
In a large saute pan on medium heat, add a dab of butter to coat the pan (you will need to more for the next quesadilla). Place your whole wheat tortillas, topped with sliced Monterey Jack cheese in the center. Cook each side till crispy and cheese is melted. When finished, place onto a cutting board and open. Spoon some cilantro pesto inside. Cut into 4 pieces and serve with the fresh pico de gallo and sliced avocado. Top avocado with a sprinkle of sea salt, cayenne pepper, and squeeze of lime.
* For a protein option, you can add chicken breasts that have been marinated in lime, lime zest, and olive oil. Season, grill or pan-sear, slice and place inside the quesadilla.
Nicole Franzen Photography

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