A comforting enchilada recipe to make when you have lots of time to putter around in the kitchen (like now?).
So, this is not a recipe you make on a hurried weeknight. It’s a recipe you make when you will be home all day and can make the components as your will or energy dictates during the day, sort of like now, as we shelter at home waiting out this epidemic. The house will smell wonderful, and you’ll have a delicious feast ready when you are.
The components include the enchilada sauce, in this case a red one, the filling of black beans and more peppers, and a lively dairy-free avocado cream to top it all off. You can make this as mild or spicy as you like.
Peppers, peppers, and more peppers
Peppers are the star of this dish. We’ve used dried anchos (a poblano which has been dried) for their delightful flavor, fresh poblanos for the same reason, sweet red peppers, and chipotle chilis for their heat and additional smoky flavor! That’s a lot of pepper. Charring the poblanos and red peppers and removing the skin will add more flavor to the finished dish, but if you are pressed for time, you can skip this step. I’ve done it both ways, it’s all still good.
Searching for anchos
Ancho chilis are one of my favorite pantry staples, adding a slight warmth, sweetness, and lovely smoky element. But, where I live in the Northeast, the dried anchos are the toughest ingredient to find. I remember looking for them for a recipe last summer and I had to go to six places before I found them! I later discovered a beautiful local supply at a farmers market and stocked up, so I am fortunate enough to have a large canning jar of these treasurers in the larder. In this state of the world, the last thing I will do is go any more than one place to find an ingredient! So, if you cannot find them, just leave them out, the dish will still be delicious.
Heat it up the way you like
Most supermarkets carry the chipotles. If you are heat sensitive, don’t just dip your finger in the can and taste, you will no doubt decide you don’t want to use it. Instead, start with one pepper mashed up and add to the sauce, taste, and add more if you like. One pepper is not going to make the sauce “hot” just perhaps a bit warming. The chipotles are packed in little cans in adobo sauce and you’ll add a bit of that to the dish as well, but again, start small and add to the level you like, and don’t forget to scrub your hands after handling them.
The tortilla choice
I can never decide whether to use corn or whole wheat tortillas, I love them both, so I usually make some of each! This time, I had to make due with the whole wheat flour tortillas because that is all I had on hand.
There’s a lot of components to this dish, but they can be done while the red sauce simmers.
Black Bean, Poblano, and Red Pepper Enchiladas
First, the red sauce:
- 2 ancho chilis
- 2 red or other sweet peppers
- 2 or 3 poblano peppers
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp. chili powder
- 2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 3 cups tomato sauce
- 1-3 chipotle chilis and a tbsp. or more of the adobo sauce
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp. sherry vinegar
If you are using the ancho chilis: Cut their tops off and shake out the seeds. Cut them up into large pieces and place in a heated cast-iron frying pan or heavy bottomed skillet over high heat. Put on your vent fan. Char the chilis on both sides and remove from the pan. Chop up into small pieces and cover with a cup of boiling water. Set aside for a half hour. When they have finished resting, drain and puree in a food processor with a little of the soaking liquid. Taste it first though, if it is bitter, discard it and just use water.
If you have the time: Halve and remove the seeds from the poblano and sweet peppers and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Broil until charred. Remove to a bowl, cover with plastic and let sit for 10 minutes. Rub off most of the peelings and dice, keeping the red pepper separate (this will be used for the filling).
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and add the diced poblanos and onions. Sauté for a few minutes, then add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Continue cooking until the spices are fragrant. Add the tomato sauce, the reserved ancho pulp, and the chipotles. Taste and add salt and pepper, and more chipotle or adobo if desired.
Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to a low simmer. Continue cooking for 45 minutes or so, add the vinegar, and taste. Does it need anything? More heat? More spice? Adjust to how you like it. If you have fresh oregano, throw a bit in toward the end. You can make this early in the day to get it out of the way, or even the day before.
Now, the filling:
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- The reserved red pepper, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 oz. button mushrooms, chopped
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. cumin
- ½ cup red sauce, above
- 1 can black beans, no salt added, drained
- Salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a large skillet and add the onion and red pepper. Sauté until the onion is soft and just starting to color. Add the garlic, mushrooms, chili powder, cumin, and continue cooking until the mushrooms are tender. Add the red sauce and the beans and let everything mingle for 10 minutes on a low simmer.
Top it off Avocado Cream Sauce:
- 2 ripe avocados
- Juice and zest of one lime
- 2 tbsp. mayonnaise or vegan mayonnaise
- Pinch of cumin
- Salt and pepper
- Water to thin
The avocados need to be nice and soft but not browning. Place them in a blender or small food processor along with the lime juice and zest, mayonnaise, cumin, salt and pepper, and a couple of tablespoons of water. Process until smooth and continue adding water a tablespoon at a time until you are at the consistency you like. I like it thick, but you might like it thinner.
- 8 to 10 tortillas
- Vegan or traditional cheese, optional
- 2 scallions
- Parsley, cilantro, or chopped fresh tomatoes to garnish
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
You will need 8 to 10 tortillas depending on size. If using corn, spray or lightly brush them with cooking oil and place on a baking sheet in the oven at the beginning of its preheat for around five minutes. Keep an eye on them so they don’t crisp up. This will help to make them pliable so they don’t crack. Traditionally, you would lightly fry them, but this adds a lot of unnecessary fat to the recipe. If using flour tortillas, just begin.
Place about a cup of the red sauce in the bottom of a 13″ X 8″ casserole dish and smear it around.
Place a couple of tablespoons of the bean mixture on the bottom third of the tortilla. Add an extra teaspoon of sauce if you like, and if you are using a cheese produce, place a bit on the top. Roll carefully and tightly and place in the prepared pan seam side down. Continue until all the rolls are made.
Pour the rest of the sauce over all and level it off. Cover with parchment and foil. I don’t like foil touching food, so I line with the parchment first. If you have a lidded casserole dish, all the better.
Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the covering and bake another 8 to 10 minutes. If a few little edges get crispy, consider it a treat!
Let rest a few minutes, garnish with the avocado cream sauce and something fresh on the top. I used scallions and fresh cherry tomatoes because I had no parsley!
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