Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Vegan Enchiladas with Cilantro-Lime Rice

I had never made enchiladas before.

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!

Vegan Enchiladas
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.

For assembly:

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).


  1. Haha! I wish I could bribe Paul with vegan food to dye my hair ... but I wouldn't trust him with my hair. ;-) Those enchiladas look amazing! I love enchiladas!

    1. Ba ha ha ha, I don't know if I would trust Paul with that either. :) And yeah, they're so good, don't know why I've never made them before!

  2. I've made enchiladas a couple of time before. Don't tell anyone, but I used jarred sauce. Alas, my boyfriend liked them more than a lot of things I've made from scratch!

    You've just reminded me how much I need to eat some lime and coriander rice... And how I've got half a bag of Maseca going begging!

    1. Jarred sauce has saved my ass many a time. :)

  3. I love enchiladas!! I've made vegetarian ones numerous times, but never vegan, because I always use cheese. I have yet to try the vegan "cheese", but I have heard great things about it.

    1. I'm not sure what it's like from the perspective of someone who eats cheese regularly, but Mike eats it just fine (granted, it's not like he's nomming cow cheese all the time).

  4. Homemade tortillas and all, that's so impressive!! The meal sounds so delicious, I love it when meals surprise you and are better than you expect! Great job!

    Haha I think I need to start using food as bribes too. I'll have to ponder that ;)

    1. Food as bribes, it really is a great concept. :)

  5. Ok, don't judge me but I have a fear of making my own tortillas, I'm worried they'll turn out all bumpy, misshapen and weird. Do you just use a rolling pin? Or do you have one of those fancy pants tortilla press thingymabobs?
    I've only made enchiladas once, and I also convinced Philip to make them once, both times were awesome and I've been trying to convince Philip to make them again ever since...I mean, why would I make them myself when I now know I can bribe him into making them for me? Ha ha

    1. I have a wine bottle, ha ha. I mean for rolling. I use the same one every time! I just put the corn tortilla between two sheets of plastic wrap and go to town. They're not bumpy but they're pretty misshapen - luckily it doesn't matter much in enchiladas. :)

  6. These enchiladas are so right up my alley! I've been craving enchiladas like something fierce. I'm also a huge fan of cilantro, and just read an article that some people are predisposed to hate it. Crazy!

    1. I've heard that too! I think I'm kind of weird in that sense because for a while I really hated cilantro, but then somehow I started loving it, and now it's one of my favorite herbs. Sometimes I think when it comes to strong flavors like that, you just need to be exposed to it a lot before you get used to the taste - and then you can determine if you like it or not. Just my two cents. :)