I’m a sucker for a pretty picture of Mexican food. And the picture of this vegetable enchilada dish from Sunset Magazine had me hooked instantly. Mexican is and will always be my favorite. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that there’s often avocado or guacamole on top. Maybe it’s because I live in So. Cal. where Mexico isn’t too far away. Whatever the reason, I love Mexican food. Especially well cooked tasty Mexican food. Not that greasy cheesy stuff from some restaurants.
Don’t get me wrong; I’ve had my share of cheesy gooey Mexican food. When I became vegetarian so many years ago I practically lived on cheese enchiladas. Maybe that’s why my cholesterol used to be so high. So now, anytime I can make Mexican food with less or no cheese, I’m all over it. That’s another reason I was so excited about this dish.
As Sunset stated, “your typical vegetarian enchiladas are mostly cheese. That’s not the case with this version, loaded with … corn, and two types of beans”. So, I had to try it.
The original recipe called for canned enchilada sauce. But, I didn’t want to use canned sauce mainly because I’ve never been able to find one that tasted good. But, also, I believed that I could make a good one myself. After doing a little research, I had a good idea of what I wanted to do for the sauce. And, it turned out great! Complex, with a little kick of spice at the end. Not overpowering, and not salty or sweet. Just a great enchilada sauce. On second thought, just a great sauce period.
I’ll definitely be making this whole dish again, but this sauce would be great on lots of things. I even have a little left over that I’m going to mix into eggs and scramble for a breakfast burrito.
As for variations, you could add sweet red or yellow pepper to boost the vegetable content. The original recipe had spinach, but my husband doesn’t care for cooked spinach, so I left that out. Serve the enchiladas with some chips and guacamole or with a nice crisp green salad.
I’ll be making this easy and super tasty dish again! In fact, I really liked the individual serving presentation, and I think this will be great for a big family dinner. The individual dishes can be made ahead of time and kept in the ‘fridge. I’ll take them out & pop them in the oven right before it’s time to eat. Serve them with a big family style salad and some chips and salsa, and we’ll have a great meal!
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- ½ yellow onion, sliced
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1 recipe red chile sauce (see below)
- 9 corn tortillas, quartered
- 1 cup refried beans
- 1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed if using canned
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons shredded pepper jack cheese
- 6 tablespoons chopped green onions
- Preheat oven to 375°. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add corn and cook until hot. Set aside.
- Put 6 ovenproof baking dishes* (each about 12-oz. capacity) on a rimmed baking sheet. Working with one dish at a time, spoon in 2 tbsp. enchilada sauce. Top with 2 tortilla quarters, 2 rounded tbsp. each refried beans and black beans, 1 tbsp. cheese, and 2 more tortilla quarters, pushing tortillas down gently as you layer them over cheese and beans. Spoon in 1/3 cup (packed) vegetable mixture, then 2 more tortilla quarters, 3 tbsp. enchilada sauce, and 2 tbsp. cheese. Repeat layering with remaining dishes.
- Bake enchiladas until bubbling, cheese is melted, and tortillas are starting to brown on edges, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with green onions.
- *Or use a 9 x 13-in. baking dish, spreading one-third of sauce over bottom; top with one-third of tortillas, the beans, one-third of cheese, one-third of tortillas, the vegetable mixture, remaining tortillas, remaining sauce, and remaining cheese.
- 4-6 whole dried red chiles*, hard stems removed
- 2 tablespoons safflower oil or light tasting oil of your choice
- 2 tablespoons red onion, finely diced
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons flour
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 ½ cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Place 4 whole chiles in the bowl of a small food processor or in a spice grinder. Grind until chiles are finely chopped and uniform in size. Ground chiles should measure ½ cup. If you don’t have ½ cup, grind remaining chiles as needed.
- Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until it begins to brown, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and oregano and continue to cook for another minute until garlic becomes fragrant. Add the flour and cumin and cook for at least 2 minutes, stirring constantly. The flour will brown slightly. Whisk the ground chile and the water into the roux. Stir as the sauce thickens, then lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes. Season with salt.
- Sauce can be strained at this point to create a silky smooth red chile sauce, or it can be used as a rustic red sauce and not strained.
- *Cook’s Notes: Any dried red chile will work here. I used dried California red chiles. California red chiles have a pretty red color, and a mild spiciness. Vary the type of chile used to get different color, flavor, or heat levels to your sauce. You could also use pre-ground chiles in a jar (found in the spice aisle), just be sure that you don’t use chili powder, which includes other ingredients.