Smoky white bean quesadillas + a launch party

My second book ‘A Modern Way to Cook’ has been published, it came out 3 weeks ago on the 16th of July. I couldn’t be more proud of it and thankful to the amazing people who helped me make it what it is.

It is all about eating joyfully and putting vegetables at the centre of every meal, but it’s also about cooking in a life friendly time, making the most of evenings and mornings when time is short and getting something vibrant and flavour packed on the table without too much fuss.

We had a seriously amazing party to send the book into the world in style on a balmy evening at Fifteen, the restaurant where my journey in cooking all began. It was really special to be able to look straight into the kitchen where first learnt to make fresh pasta, ice cream and a million other things. Lots of the people that are dear to be came along, including some of my old chefs and mentors at Fifteen, and the people who cooked as students alongside me. I gave a long and probably over emotional speech and everyone got a bit drunk with a mixture of London summer heat, incredible wine and iced tea cocktails. We were surround by flowers in ombre tones of orange and deep coral by my amazing friend Alex.


We drank Iced Rare Tea cocktails and frosty bottles of pastel coloured almond milk from The Pressery, we ate tiny versions of lots of dishes from the book, Green Goddess Salad, Beetroot and Buckwheat Pancakes, Fiery Pepper Topped Homemade Turkish Flatbreads and Smoky Pepper and White Bean Quesadillas before the Salted Caramel Chocolate Bars and Pistachio and Raspberry Brownies.


I was overwhelmed by how many amazing people made it along and how totally supported I felt by everyone there. Writing a book can be a pretty solo affair so to see smiling faces of friends flicking through it and clapping and whooping while I gave my speech was one of the best feelings in the world.

Here is the recipe for the quesadillas which I made on the night. They are my favourite sharing food and super easy for a party or with a salad for a quick lunch or supper.

Smoky white bean quesadillas

Quesadillas, like a lot of Mexican food, get a bad write-up as being cheese- laden and lazy, but they are a truly quick meal, and by filling them with not just cheese they become more nourishing and much more delicious. Here I have stepped away from the straight-up Mexican quesadillas and introduced some Spanish flavours. Roasted red peppers, smoky paprika and white beans – it makes me think of summer trips to Barcelona, and that can never be a bad thing. If you are vegan, leave the cheese out and double the white beans, which hold it all together; you may want to be more generous with the seasoning too. I mostly make these at lunchtime, but they are filling enough for a dinner – you might want some sherry-vinegar-dressed green salad on the side. If you are making these for a party, which I often do, the filling can be made in bigger batches really easily. The quesadillas can be stacked in the fridge, filled, and ready for frying.



2 spring onions
olive oil
1⁄2 teaspoon smoked paprika
50g cooked white beans
100g jarred, roasted red peppers
1 unwaxed lemon
1⁄2 a bunch of fresh parsley
50g Manchego cheese (see above note for vegans)
2 wholemeal or seeded tortillas or wraps
a handful of cherry tomatoes

Get all your ingredients together. Finely slice the spring onions. Put a frying pan on a medium heat, add a little olive oil, the spring onions and smoked paprika, and cook for a couple of minutes, until starting to brown. Meanwhile, put the white beans into a mixing bowl and mash them with a fork, then roughly chop your red peppers and add half of them to the beans. Grate over the zest of the lemon, then roughly chop the parsley and add half to the bowl. Grate in your Manchego. Once the spring onions are browned, add these too. Lay a tortilla or wrap on your work surface. Spoon the red pepper mixture all over it, spread it evenly, then top with the other tortilla. Heat a frying pan and toast the quesadilla for a couple of minutes on each side –I do this dry, but you can add a splash of oil if you like your quesadillas crispy. If you find it hard to flip, a plate on top might help.

While the quesadilla is toasting, roughly chop the tomatoes, mix with the remaining peppers and parsley and squeeze in the juice of half the lemon.

Once toasted on both sides, remove the quesadilla from the pan and cut into six pieces. Serve in the middle of the table, with the salsa for spooning over.

Food images: Matt Russell
Illustrations: Jess Lea-Wilson

Posted: 11.08.15 8 Comments


Posted by Mo at 11:48 on the 06.09.15

When will there be a version for the US, pretty please?

Posted by Anna at 3:03 on the 09.09.15

Hi Mo, this has yet to be confirmed I’m afraid, but keep your eyes peeled as hopefully I should know more in the next couple of months. AJ x

Posted by Ana @ at 12:19 on the 02.11.15

Congratulations! The book looks fantastic, and I can’t wait to get it.

I see you use a lot of coconut oil. What is your favourite brand? Can you recommend some? Thanks very much!

Posted by Julie Preece at 9:15 on the 22.11.15

Recently bought ‘Modern way to eat’ and am working my way through. Everything I have cooked has been delicious , my other half loves the blueberry, banana pancakes, not asked for bacon for breakfast in weeks. Thank you about to order copy of your new book.

Posted by Anna at 10:56 on the 24.11.15

Thanks so much for letting me know, Julie. Hope you enjoy the new book, too. AJ x

Posted by Anna at 9:01 on the 22.12.15

I made your quesadillas last night and they were super tasty! In fact, I have some beans left over so I’ll probably make some more today too 🙂 I think I will put a bit less of the lemon zest though, I found it a bit overpowering. Thanks for the lovely recipe!

Anna (not the author 😉 )

Posted by Lily at 1:52 on the 15.06.18

Thank you Anna this was so delicious really wanted something filling but light feeling and summery, thank you! Love food that makes you feel good afterwards! Definetely making it again xx

Posted by Victoria at 6:58 on the 01.02.21

Hi Anna! I’ve made two of your recipes in the past week: the Ricotta, Thyme and Sweet Potato Bake from A Modern Way to Eat and the White bean and Roasted Pepper Quesadillas from above. Both recipes were a delicious success! My daughter thinks she doesn’t like smoked paprika but she managed four portions of the quesadillas nonetheless. My son doesn’t like sweet potatoes but he still loved the sweet potato bake which I made with sheets of lasagna as well as sweet potato. He just gave me his sweet potato pieces and I didn’t complain.

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