Thursday, November 8, 2007

Enchiladas, por favor?

When the yen for mexican flavors descends upon me, there is little I can do to resist it :) Besides, why even try? Especially when I have all the makings for something as awesome as enchiladas!

I still remember my first enchilada experience - Azteca - not exactly top of the line mexican food! And I still remember being shocked at the sizes of the platters of food they bring out - not plates, but platters, giant platters of seemingly never-ending mounds of cheese and tortillas and lettuce and beans and cheese and ... Oyy! But I'm super glad that didn't swear me off real mexican chow - it would've been quite tragic if that had happened!

In case you didn't get it already, I'm not a fan of big wonks of cheesy overbaked tortillas :) But I do love the ones that have fun stuffings and spicy sauces drizzled all over. Mmm ... that's what I wanted to make - flavorful, spicy, nutritious enchiladas. Didi Emmons' Vegetarian Planet had this really interesting recipe for veggie enchiladas with a spicy nutty red sauce - it sounded almost perfect, but not quite - the recipe called for a carrot+onion+tofu+beans stuffing - that sounded a little on the heavy side, so I chose to skip the tofu (I didn't have any anyway! :)) and add a bunch of baby spinach instead. And use a mix of black and pinto beans instead of just the black beans. The only variation I made in the sauce was to use a mixture of nuts instead of just almonds - I have to say that turned out to be a killer idea :)

Spicy Nutty Enchiladas
(This makes for many many servings)

12 Red chile tortillas (from Whole Foods - they come in bags of 6)
5 carrots - grated
1 medium red onion
1/2 shallot
3-4 handfuls of baby spinach leaves
1 can black beans
1/2 can pinto beans
1 t allspice powder
1 T olive oil
a few dashes of habanero sauce

Mince the onion and shallot to a coarse paste.
Heat the oil in a work and saute the onion mixture till it starts to brown.
Add the carrots and cook for about 5 minutes.
Toss in the spinach and cook uncovered till the spinach starts to wilt - takes about 2 minutes.
Add the spices and salt along with the black and pinto beans and stir for about 2-3 minutes.
Finally season with as much habanero sauce as your palate can handle :)
Take this stuffing off the stove and let it cool while the sauce gets made.

Oh, turn on the oven - we need it at 350 F for our enchiladas.

4 medium roma tomatoes
1/2 vidalia onion
4 cloves garlic
1 T freshly ground spices (mix of coriander, cumin, cinnamon, dried arbol chile)
1/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup cashews
1/4 cup sherry
3 T red wine vinegar

Grind the tomatoes, onions and garlic into a fine paste.
Cook this tomato paste in a saucepan along with the spices and salt for about 10-12 minutes - the tomatoes should taste totally cooked and the flavors should start blending in.
Roast the almonds and cashews for 1-2 minutes in a pan over medium heat and grind them into a fine paste.
Sitr in the nuts paste into the tomato sauce - this can be a bit tedious since the nuts tend to clump and we really want it to blend smoothly into the tomato sauce. Often, it helps to turn the heat down to simmer and keep stirring with a wooden spoon till the sauce gets smooth again.
Now toss in the vinegar and sherry and stir for 2-3 minutes.

Assembling those yummy enchiladas
This is the really fun part. I *love* rolling those enchiladas :)

a handful of chopped parsley
1/3 cup grated mahon cheese

Take a scoop of the stuffing and place it in a tortilla along the center.
Roll the tortilla tightly and place it in a baking dish - I'll remember to take a series of pictures of the rolling process the next time I make enchiladas. The rolled tortilla reminds me a lot of veggie frankies that we used to get in des - especially at Hot Breads in Chennai :)
Repeat this fun rolling action with the rest of the tortillas.
Now drizzle the nutty red sauce over the tortillas and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes.
Sprinkle the cheese all over the sauce and let it sit in the oven for 1-2 minutes till the cheese is melted all over.
Garnish with some chopped parsley.

Eat! :)

What was our verdict?
Drool-worthy! Seriously! Flavorful, spicy, nutritious enchiladas! :)

This was another meal with a successful wine pairing. We opened a bottle of Waterbrook Melange from 2002 - not a super big wine, but ripe and fruity and tasted great with the mexican spices. It had just the right amount of tannins and a decent finish. The best part is that it is inexpensive - $16 a bottle, me thinks!


Asha said...

WooHoo! Habanero sounds great. Looks good Kay, enjoy!:))

sagari said...

enchiladas look colorfull and delecious

Rajitha said...

yum! looks beautiful...i unfortunately love the cheesy cheesy ones too ;)

Madhu said...

Oh wow ! looks so colourful and delicious. Love enchiladas.

Nabeela said...

those look delicios Kay! I love enchiladas too....mine is made with a tomatillo sauce and is very spicy!

Latha Narasimhan said...

Delicious !!:)

Namratha said...

Enchiladas look great Kay, love your version of the sauce. I made some too recently :) Hey and is the Azteca you mentioned the one in Cedar Hill, TX? If yes, that's my hubby's fave place too...:)

bee said...

'vegetarian planet' is a wonderful book, and your enchiladas look just perfect.

Kribha said...

OMG...That looks like an art work. The blend of colors look really good. I'm sure it would have tasted great too. Will save this recipe for later. Thanks for sharing.

Suganya said...

How are red chile tortillas? Been eyeing them for a while. You have taken much time in assembling the casserole. I can see that. Its a beauty.

Kelly Mahoney said...

Mmm, I love enchiladas. Those are so much prettier than the ones I get in restaurants too.

Vegeyum @ A Life (Time) of Cooking said...

Oh looking so beautiful. How can I resist? And not as heavy as a lot of Mexican food?