Friday, January 24, 2014

Easy Enchiladas

It is pretty well known to those around me that I love spicy food. Even as a kid, I would have hot pepper eating contests with my friends; we would competitively chomp down bowlfuls of jalapenos, move on to Tabasco sauce, and then break open those mysterious bad boys of hotness - spicy hot packets from the Golden Arches (they came with the long defunct Fajita wraps, for anyone old enough to remember). Those suckers were hot!

As I grew up, so did my tastes. As a teenager I was introduced to Indian food, and my entire world changed! Spice was more than just heat.... I next fell in love with the sweet/spicy/sour flavors of Thai food. But throughout my childhood, adolescence, twenties, etc... (don't ask how etc!) Mexican food has been a perennial favorite of mine. The fresh flavors of chilies, tomatoes, and lime...mmm! The colors, smells, and textures of good Mexican cuisine always bring me back for more. Jalapeno Rellenos, the more authentic version of corn and cheese stuffed peppers with spicy salsa fresco... Fish tacos with purple cabbage, lightly battered white fish, with crema & fresh lime. But truly my favorite above all (OK, tied for favorite with fish tacos) are Enchiladas...Yum!

This recipe is a vegetarian variation. Butternut Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas smothered in a rich, spicy sauce then topped with cheese. The recipe can be found on a brilliant healthy food blog, SkinnyTaste. I love to browse through their recipe index for light dinner ideas!

The enchiladas are a great mix of sweet squash, savory beans, spices, tomatoes, jalapeno, and onions. Wrapped in a chewy tortilla and then baked in sauce.... It is a delicious meatless meal that even my die-hard carnivore husband enjoyed! I did make a few changes that make the recipe not quite as "light" as the original, to use the ingredients I had on hand.  You can use low fat dairy and carb friendly tortillas if you like (I don't judge!). I also decided to try my hand at making the sauce that was included with the recipe (with some modifications - look for my future post), but I think you can use your own favorite sauce with great results!

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas

Slightly modified from the original recipe found on

1 cup red enchilada sauce, homemade or store bought (here is the recipe I use
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 1/2 cups pealed and diced butternut squash, about 1/2 inch dice
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 jalapeno*, seeded and diced
10 oz can of Rotel tomatoes with green chilies
1 1/2 cups of canned low sodium black beans, drained and rinsed well
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup of shredded monterey jack cheese
1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
8 tortillas (I love using Joseph's brand Flax, Oat Bran, and Whole Wheat Flour Tortillas. They have more protein than most and have a great "chew" to them)

* There was some debate on whether the jalapeno was actually needed. If you like it extra spicy, absolutely      include the pepper!

Optional Garnishes

chopped scallions
sour cream
lime wedges

Preheat your oven to 400F. Place 1/4 cup of enchilada sauce on the bottom of a large baking dish.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, and jalapeno to the pan and sauté, 2-3 minutes, until the onions become translucent. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Add the cubed butternut squash, rinsed & drained black beans, Rotel tomatoes, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, water and season with salt & pepper. Mix well. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, while stirring occasionally. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the butternut squash is tender, 30-35 minutes.

Cool trick to steam your tortillas-
Place a damp clean kitchen towel onto a microwave safe dish. Place the tortillas on top of the damp towel and fold the sides of the towel over the tortillas. Place in the microwave and heat for 1 minute. Be very careful as you retrieve your dish and unwrap - It's hot!

To assemble-
Place a generous 1/3 cup of the filling spread horizontally across the tortilla, stopping within an 1 1/2 inches from the outer edges (I roll my enchiladas like Jewish blintzes, instead of the traditional fold over. I like the presentation better and the filling stays inside). Take the left and right sides of the tortilla and bring them into the center. Take the bottom portion and fold upwards until the leading edge hits the edge of the filling. Then "tuck & roll" to make your enchilada.

Place the assembled enchiladas into your baking dish as you finish them. Spoon the reserved enchilada sauce over the top and sprinkle with grated cheese. Bake covered in foil until hot and the cheese is melted. About 10-15 minutes. Top with scallions, sour cream, and a wedge of lime if wanted.

Note: I think this would make a wonderful vegan dish by omitting the dairy cheese and using vegan friendly cheese substitute. Just watch out for animal products in the enchilada sauce if you are not making your own.

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