Sunday, November 14, 2010

easy avocado enchiladas

I just learned that enchiladas were one of the recipes included in the first definitive Mexican cookbook, El cocinero mexicano ("The Mexican Chef"), in 1831. Wikipedia told me this when I went looking for info on the origins of this marvelous dish. They were informed, by the way, in "Tacos, Enchiladas and Refried Beans: The Invention of Mexican-American Cookery" published by Oregon State University.

Enchiladas are essentially any mixture of meat, fish, vegetables, or beans wrapped up in a soft (usually corn) tortilla and baked in a chili sauce. I have had them in many restaurants in Canada and even in Mexico. None have been all that memorable, save some that I once had cooked for me essentially out of someone's kitchen at a little beach snack bar somewhere near Manzanillo.

The enchiladas I like to make come from Mollie Katzen's "The Enchanted Broccoli Forest." First she explains the enchilada's basic components and construction. Then she gives three different recipes for fillings: Cheese with Surprises, Avocado, and Zucchini and Pepper. Honestly, as soon as I laid eyes on that avocado recipe my heart skipped a beat. I've never even tried the other two, though "with surprises" intrigues me a great deal.
1/2 C fresh lemon juice
4 ripe avocados, coarsely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
6 green onions, finely chopped (greens and whites)
3/4 C fresh cilantro (didn't have any so I used Italian parsley)
2 ripe tomatoes, diced
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground cumin

Make this just before you're ready to assemble the enchiladas and fit them into a casserole to be baked.

Mollie Katzen also gives two different recipes for enchilada sauce - a salsa verde, which requires green tomatoes (perfect for a big crop in summer) and the red sauce which can be made as long as you have access to a few basic supermarket ingredients like ripe tomatoes and a red bell pepper. Sometimes I blend it smooth but today I left it chunky for a nice texture.

The enchilada sauce can be made ahead of time.

Simmer in a pot:
5 ripe tomatoes, diced
1 large red sweet pepper, finely diced
1 tsp. salt
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp crushed rep pepper, or chili pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. ground cumin

It's not in Mollie's recipe but I like to top the enchiladas with mozzarella or jack cheese before baking in the oven. Also, she covers with foil before baking and I leave the dish open to brown a little on top.

Tonight I paired the hot casserole with a quick spinach salad with chopped kalamata olives, big chunks of Starkrimson pear (a new discovery and positively delicious!), chopped green onion, and crumbled chevre. I made a vinaigrette of maple syrup, honey Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil.

via Wikipedia:
Oregon State University - Retrieved 2008-07-14.

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