By Jahdai Jeffries
Enchiladas: A luscious Mexican dish filled with different meats, soaking in tomato sauce and topped with melted cheese. Delicious, that is true, but not necessarily vegetarian and not a synonym of healthy food, either.
Who said that we can’t take this dish and turn it into something healthy and nutritious to delight the entire family without losing its mouth-watering quality? This recipe comes with an added plus: if you cook enough of them as to have leftovers, they will taste even better on the second day.
Having been a vegetarian for seventeen years, I am constantly searching for ideas and recipes to recycle, deconstruct, or simply make my own. Rarely do I follow a recipe word for word. Searching for a good homemade enchilada sauce to make I stumbled upon this recipe. At first, it did not quite appeal to me. It seemed too bland right off the page. As is my style, I decided to make this baby my own- spice it up a little and tempt the taste buds for the vegan in me.
For this simple enchilada recipe, we will substitute kale and sweet potatoes for the typical meat filling. Kale seems to be the darling veggie of the leafy green community these days. You can find kale almost anywhere and in many forms, from bagged up dehydrated kale, to kale salads, to kale wraps, and even in back alleys in small baggies … oh wait, that’s not kale! I digress. Having a spirit of experimentation is key to cooking in my book. Take chances, try leaving one ingredient out and adding another; try combos that, at first, you might think have no business together.
For the filling you will need:
One pound of sweet potatoes (or Japanese purple potatoes, I find these slightly sweeter and very colorful).
½ pound of kale (Chiffonade cut or into bite size pieces.)
2 Tbl olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup veggie broth/stock (plus more for cooking sweet potatoes if desired)
lime juice to taste, I use 2- Tbs.
¼ cup pepitas (toasted pumpkin seeds) reserve a few for topping final dish.
salt & pepper to taste
12 corn tortillas. I recently tried a new corn-whole wheat tortilla combo, seriously amazing.
For the enchilada sauce you will need:
2-3 Tbls olive oil
One onion diced (small to medium depending on taste)
2 large poblano peppers, baked, and skined, and seeds removed and then chopped.
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon marjoram
2 14oz cans diced tomatoes (roasted). I like to use one roasted / one regular
1-2 teaspoons sugar in the raw
2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
Juice of half a lime
3 dashes of liquid mesquite.
Now, you are going to want to make this sauce first so put on some music and get to it.
Grab a big saucepan and sautee the onions till softened. Then add the remaining ingredients, let simmer for a few minutes, taste, adjust flavor as needed, then turn off stove and let cool down. Once cool, place in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.
For the filling, first peel and dice the sweet potatoes into small cubes and boil in a mixture of veggie broth and water (10-15 min, or until soft). Drain and set aside.
Next, add minced garlic to a sautee pan and cook, being careful not to burn the garlic. Then add the kale and sea salt and stir, cover the pot with lid to steam the kale until wilted. Squeeze a few drops of the lime over the leaves and then add the stock, the sweet potatoes (pre-mash a few just for texture) and most of the pepitas, then stir to combine. Cook for 3-4 minutes more or until the stock has been absorbed. Set aside on a plate or in a bowl.
Now that you have that filling all made, and you are still shaking your bootie from the music, it’s the time to roll those babies up and get some cooking going on!
Heat your oven to 375 degrees. Place about ¾ a cup of sauce onto a plate. Have a clean pan nice and warm to toast the tortillas, and have the filling close at hand. Grab a good sized casserole dish and place a small amount of the sauce in the bottom. No need to cover the whole dish, just a little will do. First toast a tortilla (one by one is how I do it) lightly, then place it in the plate with the sauce, coating both sides. Move to a clean plate/cutting board, and add the filling. Add just enough that will allow you to roll the tortilla shut. Place in the casserole dish then continue this process, packing the tortillas in tight. Once the dish is filled, cover the enchiladas with the remaining sauce. Cover with foil and bake in the 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes. You can check them after 15 min. to see how things are going.
When the sauce is bubbly and the enchiladas are heated through, they are ready to serve. To do this, just place a couple of enchiladas on a plate, spoon over any additional sauce from the bottom of the baking dish, and sprinkle on a few of the reserved pepitas.
You can also try serving them with chopped cilantro and vegan sour creme. Side dishes, such as Spanish rice or Mexican millet (spicy) are always a great “amigo” to these healthy and nutritious enchiladas.