When my teen was still in elementary school, this was a frequent and much-loved weeknight meal. And for the longest time, since this dish tasted quite different from the ones in a restaurant, he thought this was a secret family recipe that needed to be closely guarded:) Truth being it was just something I made keeping our tastes in mind, filling it with a mix of cooked beans, vegetables, sometimes grains, a sparing amount of cheese and smothering it in sauce before baking. When it came out of the oven with the sauce bubbling and the cheese melted, it looked every bit as perfect as any comfort food should.
It also helped that there are so many similarities between Mexican and Indian cuisines. Cumin, cilantro, chillies…….all an integral part of both cuisines. The different kinds of flavored rice reminding me of pulaos and the tortillas that are so similar to rotis. All feeling so familiar and it is no surprise that it features so often in our house. Once I learned to make the corn tortillas at home, a bag of masa became a must in my pantry. I used the blue corn masa for these tortillas but have also made them with both white and yellow ones, using the recipe on the bag. The filling too is a fairly simple one and I have to admit it changes almost every time I make it. I am also not shy about admitting that I often use the prepackaged Southwest vegetable mixes from the freezer aisle in the store. A blessing on busy weekdays.
The sauce is a special part of the dish, I must say. Not quite traditional and thickened with almonds, it is utterly delicious nonetheless. Spicy but not overly so, full of flavor and silky smooth and as with many things homemade, it tastes wonderfully fresh. I have used chili powder and taco seasonings from the store in the past but for the past few years, this recipe by Alton Brown is my go-to Mexican chili powder. Needs a little bit of effort and ingredients but is so worth it. I make a big batch and freeze most of it, keeping a small amount out in an airtight bottle.
This is also a great comfort food especially during this time of the year when the weather calls for sweaters and mittens and the sun has set by 5:00 pm. Perfect time to crank up the oven and make this. The house is enveloped in a wonderfully spicy aroma and it takes all the self-control to stop yourself from digging into the enchiladas in the bubbling sauce right away. I served these with some roasted tomatillo and cilantro rice and I will post that recipe very soon too. And we have had them for two meals in a row and if I had leftovers, would have been perfectly happy to have it for a third meal. It’s that good 🙂
Black Bean, Spinach & Corn EnchiladasPrint Recipe
- 8-10 corn or flour tortillas (5-inch)
- 1 1/2 cups monterey-jack cheese ( I use 2%)
- Sliced jalapenos, chopped green onions, sliced avocados and lime wedges for garnish
- 3/4 cup cooked black beans, drained (can use canned)
- 1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
- 1 cup butternet squash, chopped into small pieces
- 1 cup fresh spinach, chopped finely
- 1 small onion or shallot, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped or grated
- 1/2 tsp fresh jalapeno, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 to 2 tsp Mexican chili powder
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- salt to taste
- 1 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes (I use POMI brand)
- 1 medium onion or shallot, chopped (approx. half cup)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped (optional)
- 10-12 raw almonds soaked for an hour in hot water or 1/4 cup almond powder
- 2 tsp Mexican chili powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder
- 1/4 tsp dried oregano
- 1 1/2 cups water or vegetable broth
- 1 tbsp olive oil
For the filling:
Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the onion and garlic. Cook on a medium flame until it softens and then add the butternut squash. Add the salt, stir and cook covered until the butternut squash has softened.
Add the corn, spinach, black beans, jalapeno, cilantro and chili powder. Stir and cook until the spinach has wilted. Add more salt if needed and turn off flame.
For the sauce:
Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion, red bell pepper and garlic. When the onions soften, add the chili powder, cumin powder and oregano. Add the tomato sauce and almond powder (if using) and stir. Turn off the stove and let this come to room temperature. We will be cooking the tomatoes once we have finished grinding it in the blender.
If using soaked almonds, mix it into the tomato mixture and blend to a smooth paste. I find the Vitamix does an amazing job with this.
Transfer it back to the pan and add the water/vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and adjust the salt to taste.
Preheat the oven to 350 F
Grease the bottom of the baking pan and pour enough sauce to cover the bottom.
Wrap the tortillas in a damp paper or kitchen towel and warm them in the microwave for 30 seconds to make them pliable.
Keeping the rest covered, take one tortilla at a time and add about 2 tbsp fo the filling and 1 tbsp of cheese and roll tightly. Place over the sauce with the seam side down in baking pan. Repeat with the rest of the tortillas.
Pour some of the sauce of top (you might have extra) and then sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.
Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the cheese has melted and the sauce is bubbly.
Garnish with sliced jalapenos, chopped green onions and some avocado and serve.