I used to firmly be from the ooey-gooey school of Mexican food, where melted mountains of bland cheese were the attraction, hampered only by those far less important ingredients like beans and peppers. But the 1970s Mexican food from my Southern California childhood has grown up to be more inclusive of, get this, flavor! Now I heartily prefer the zippy combination of roasty, earthy, spicy, salty, tangy, cilantro-y tastes in my enchiladas to the taste of cheese.
This recipe from Eating Well does a splendid job of bringing out those great flavors. The sauce alone is explosive–not necessarily for the heat, but for the mix of flavors. It’s pretty easy to make, and outshines prepared enchilada sauce by a mile–and the roasted vegetables filling adds another level of depth that has me not so sad that the cheesy enchiladas days are a thing of decades past. I always recommend cooking your own beans, but you can use a 15-ounce can here in a pinch. Also feel free to play around with the roasted vegetables–for a hit of autumn sweetness, add some butternut squash, pumpkin or sweet potatoes.
1 poblano pepper, or green bell pepper
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper, (optional)
8 ounces tomatoes, roughly chopped, plus diced tomato for garnish
1 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped, plus more leaves for garnish
3 bell peppers, (1 each red, yellow and orange), diced
8 ounces cremini (baby portobello) mushrooms, diced
3/4 cup diced red onion
4 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 cup cooked pinto beans, rinsed
12 6-inch corn tortillas
1. Preheat oven to 425F.
2. Make sauce: Roast poblano (or bell) pepper directly over the flame of a gas burner, turning frequently with tongs, until evenly charred. (Alternatively, char under the broiler, turning once or twice, for 5 to 7 minutes total.) Transfer to a deep bowl, cover, and set aside to steam for 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, heat 2 teaspoons oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add yellow onion, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, cumin, chili powder, paprika and ground chipotle (if using) and cook, stirring, until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
4. Peel the pepper, discard the stem and seeds, and chop. Add to the saucepan along with chopped tomatoes, broth and chopped cilantro. Return to medium heat and cook, uncovered, at a steady simmer, until the liquid has reduced slightly and the tomatoes have broken down, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a blender and puree. (Use caution when pureeing hot liquids.)
5. Make filling: While the sauce simmers, place bell peppers, mushrooms and red onion in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 4 1/2 teaspoons oil and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Roast, stirring halfway through, until the vegetables are tender and browned in spots, about 15 minutes total. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in beans. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.
6. Prepare enchiladas: Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Place a skillet over medium heat. Brush both sides of a tortilla with oil. Heat in skillet for 5 to 10 seconds per side, adjusting the heat if the pan gets too hot. Spread 1/3 cup of the filling and 1 tablespoon of the sauce down the middle of the tortilla and roll it up to enclose the filling. Place seam-side down in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, filling and sauce. Spread the remaining sauce and filling over the enchiladas.
6. Bake, uncovered, until hot, about 15 minutes. Serve garnished with diced fresh tomato and cilantro leaves, if desired.
Servings: 6 (2 enchiladas each).
Nutrition per serving: 269 calories; 8 g fat (1 g saturated fat, 4g mono unsaturated fat); 0 mg cholesterol; 45 g carbohydrates; 9 g protein; 9 g fiber; 753 mg sodium; 726 mg potassium.
Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C (120% daily value), Selenium (25% dv), Potassium (21% dv), Vitamin A (20% dv), Magnesium (19% dv), Folate (16% dv).
Exchanges: 2 starch, 2 vegetable, 1 1/2 fat.
Carbohydrate Servings: 2 1/2.
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