By Nicole Johnson, Nutritionist
One of my most requested recipes is for my enchiladas. Years back when I lived in Flagstaff, one of my friends made something very similar, and ever since then I have been perfecting my own version of the famous red or green enchilada.
Being an Arizona native brings a love — a passion — for Mexican food, and nothing compares to homemade. The best thing I love about cooking at home is that I am always challenging myself to make it better next time. So for the enchiladas, they are consistently changing. Always- every time I use the basics as a blueprint, and then go from there incorporating everything I can that needs to be used from the fridge. This is an easy and fast meal that everyone loves, and it is super versatile to meet any personal preferences or dietary needs. My biggest challenge would be making them vegan, because I have yet to find a good vegan shredded cheese substitute. These are my homemade spinach and cheese (vegetarian) enchiladas, that I also have adapted a new red enchilada sauce (recipe to come) for, since my son cannot tolerate much heat.
Remember you can use this or the basics of it for a base and adjust from there. If you prefer meat, add some shredded chicken, and to save time you can use canned sauces. I am still working on perfecting a green homemade sauce, as that is my absolute favorite!
3-4 cups of spinach chopped* *based on preference so you can always use less or more
3-4 cups of cheese shredded * (I use white sharp cheddar)
2 cloves of garlic minced (I use a garlic press)
1 medium onion
1 can of hatch green chilies
1 can of black beans drained (you could always use homemade here too)
1 big can of enchilada sauce green or red (or you can use my mild red version here)
10-12 tortillas (I typically use the smaller burrito size but any size will work)
1 lime (start with half the juice then add more if you like)
¼ cup cilantro chopped
Using an 11×13 baking dish (or whatever you can find to put about 10 enchiladas in- depending on your choice of tortillas) pour some of the sauce into the bottom just enough to lightly cover.
Heat the oven to 350.
Mix all the ingredients into a bowl and use your preference to how much cheese and spinach to add. You can use less spinach and more cheese; just remember the spinach cooks down and shrinks half it size just like meat does.
Use the mixture as the filling and put about ¾ cup onto each tortilla, roll them, and set them face down in the pan.
Pour the rest of the sauce on to cover them and top with any leftover cheese down the center.
Cover with foil and place in the oven for 25 minutes. They should be done, and if not you can always uncover for an additional 5 minutes to brown the top.
Serve up this deliciousness with your favorite toppings. We use avocado, greek yogurt (for sour cream substitute), chips and salsa. No need for beans since they are already in this filling meal. I promise with the versatility you will love these!
The Red Enchilada Sause without the Heat
I don’t know about you, but I despise canned red enchilada sauce. My son is super sensitive to ANY-thing spicy (even pepper) and almost every single canned red enchilada sauce, even though it says mild, is always too spicy. So I decided to make my own. After calling my friend and asking how she made hers along with flipping through Pinterest (I have to set a 10-minute timer or I get lost in there), I felt confident enough to try it myself. I had no idea how easy it really was, and recently went to dinner at someone’s house where they made a guest run out for canned enchilada sauce.
Note: Got to give credit where credit is due! I have adapted this recipe from my friends, which the main difference in her’s is to start sautéing with fresh garlic and onions, then add the liquid and spices and puree.
2 cans 14.5 oz diced tomatoes (I use fire roasted muir glen)
1 ½ cups vegetable broth (I use homemade, but you can also use water)
1 ¼ tablespoon chili powder (we prefer it mild)
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 ½ teaspoon onion powder
¾ teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons of arrowroot (optional thickener if the sauce is too thin)
Put together all of the ingredients into a medium sauce pot and mix until thoroughly combined.
On medium heat, once everything is combined and warming up, increase the heat to medium-high until it boils
to medium-high heat until it starts boiling.
Use a whisk to make sure all the ingredients are well incorporated, and turn down the heat to low.
Let it cook down for about 5-10 minutes, whisk again and take it off to cool.
Note: Any leftover you can freeze for later. I prefer to make a big batch of this just for that reason. I sometimes use it for breakfast inspirations.