They intimidated me, despite the fact that they're basically just baked little burritos in sauce. Because of this intimidation, I scoured many recipes online, wondering how people did it, taking stock of different recipe methods, comparing and contrasting until I realized how silly I was being. Enchiladas are like burritos! Stuff 'em however you like, make a yummy sauce, and that's it! It ain't rocket science.
Somehow these enchiladas far surpassed the sum of their parts - homemade corn tortillas, meat-cheese-veggie filling, and an enchilada sauce. Each part was okay on its own, but nothing to write home about. It was for this very reason that I thought the meal would end up "meh", but as soon as I took my first bite it was definitely a Cinderella story.
A Cinderella story in the taste way, not in the aesthetics way. I promise there's delicious corn tortilla action in that heap.
Mike turned to me and said, "You know, I'm not even exaggerating, but this is my favorite thing I've eaten in a long time". Which was quite fortunate, since I was bribing him with a meal and wine to re-bleach and dye my hair. But I digress. Though these enchiladas were great on their own, a couple things took them over the edge:
1) Garnishes like chopped cilantro, salsa, avocado and hot sauce. Sour cream would be excellent too!
2) The bed of cilantro-lime rice it was served on.
So I'm going to share my recipe, though it's really more of a method. Winging it is highly encouraged!
Makes 1 9x9 pan (about 10 enchiladas)
For the corn tortillas:
-Make 8-10 corn tortillas according to Maseca package instructions (Maseca is a brand of instant masa flour, and you can buy it at a well-stocked supermarket or specialty store that sells Latin goods. It's cheap and lasts forever, and making corn tortillas is so damn easy. Making 8-10 takes under 20 minutes.)
For the enchilada sauce:
-I used a recipe for this. It makes a lot, almost double what I needed, but leftovers make a good addition to Mexi-style rice bowls. I wasn't crazy impressed with this sauce on its own, but it really came to life when it was cooked with the enchiladas.
For the filling:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 a medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 cup diced zucchini
1/2 a pack Ground Round, any flavor (vegan ground beef, about 3/4 cup)
Large handful shredded vegan cheddar cheese that melts (like Daiya)
Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the onion until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, then the bell pepper and zucchini, chopping as you go, until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 7 more minutes. Add the ground round and vegan cheese, cooking until warmed through and the cheese has melted.
1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Pour enough enchilada sauce to cover the bottom of a 9x9 baking dish.
2. Lay a corn tortilla on your counter and spoon filling across the bottom half of the corn tortilla. Stuff it generously and don't worry about tucking in the sides when you roll. The bottom of the tortilla should overlap just a little bit. Place it in the 9x9 dish, seam side down, and repeat until you've used all of the tortillas. You'll have to squish the tortillas together in the pan so they all fit, but this helps them hold together.
3. Pour more enchilada sauce over the tops of the tortillas, enough to generously cover all of them. The top should be quite saucy. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove foil and sprinkle on another handful of vegan cheddar cheese and bake for another 10 minutes, uncovered, until cheese is melty and the sauce on top has reduced a little.
Serve on a bed of cilantro-lime rice (see below) with minced cilantro, avocado slices (or guacamole), salsa and hot sauce.
The enchiladas, pre-garnish.
For the Cilantro-Lime Rice:
1. Cook up some long-grain white rice (1 cup rice to 1 1/2 cups water for 20 minutes), adding a scoop of margarine and a generous pinch of salt while you're bringing it to a boil. When the rice is done cooking, add about 1/4 cup minced cilantro, some generous squeezes of lime (about 2 tablespoons) and more salt to taste. Easy peasy!
Despite how un-photogenic these enchiladas are, they're seriously delicious. And since I have a giant bag of Maseca flour, I'm happy to know that there's another good use for it. (Tostadas make another great use of 'em).
I'll catch you guys later, hopefully with some good holiday food up my sleeve (but not literally...that would be unfortunate).