I’ve never been a big fan of “convenience foods” (blame it on my childhood diet of bologna sammies on Wonder Bread). And the more I learn about nutrition and our profit-driven food system, the more I want to make EVERY DARN THING from scratch.
Take canned enchilada sauce, for example. Looking at the label of a mainstream brand, the first ingredient is water, followed by dehydrated chiles, modified food starch (yum?), and my personal favorite, cottonseed oil. So canned enchilada sauce is essentially lightly spiced water tainted with frankenfoods. Not to mention it tastes like the can it comes in, which makes me wonder if the sauce itself is tainted with metal. When you go to a Mexican restaurant and order enchiladas are they ever in that dreadfully thin, maroon, metallic sauce? I sincerely hope not!
Making your own enchilada sauce is not difficult, and you’ll end up with a product that is not only actual food (cool!), it tastes fresh and delicious, too. Make this large, six cup batch and freeze two pints for later use. The total cost per pint of this sauce was around $3.00.
Green Enchilada Sauce:
*makes 6 cups*
2# peppers and/or chiles (I used Hatch chiles, but Poblanos, Anaheims, or a mix would be great, too)
2 large yellow or white onions, large dice
2# tomatillos (about 12 medium tomatillos), quartered
6-8 medium cloves garlic
1 C. water (or substitute 1 C. cream for a rich and creamy version like Enchiladas Suizas)
about a dozen sprigs of cilantro, stems included
juice of 1 lime
2 tsp. coarse salt
Preheat your grill to medium high and your oven to 375 degrees. Roast the chiles or peppers over direct heat on the grill until blistered and soft, about 4-5 minutes per side. Alternatively you can roast them over the burners of a gas stove, turning regularly, or directly under the broiler.
Once the chiles are well charred over about 80% of their surface, transfer them to a paper bag and fold the top over so make a seal. Set them aside to cool while you roast the veggies.
Chop the onions and tomatillos and peel the garlic cloves, leaving them whole. Spread them all out onto a large sheet pan and roast, dry, in the 375 oven for 30 – 35 minutes total, stirring once about halfway through cooking. When they are ready they will be very soft and some bits and corners will have started to become dark brown. Set the mixture aside to cool while you peel the peppers.
After steaming in the bag, the skins should slip off of the peppers quite easily. Remove as much of the skin as possible, and then open them up and remove the seeds and any stringy pith.
Transfer the peppers to a blender along with the onion, tomatillo, and garlic mixture. Add the water, cilantro, lime juice, and salt, and puree until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Taste to be sure you have enough salt.
The mixture can now be cooled and transferred to storage containers. The sauce will last up to one week in the fridge or for several months in the freezer.
For the Potato, Vegetable, and Cheese Enchiladas:
*makes one 9×13 baking dish*
1 medium organic Russet Potato, peeled and medium diced
1/2 a small red onion, small diced
1 red pepper, small diced
1 medium zucchini, medium diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
S & P
8 oz. Monterey Jack Cheese, grated (about 2 loose cups)
12 – 14 Food For Life Sprouted Corn Tortillas or substitute fresh, local tortillas
2 C. green enchilada sauce (recipe above)
Place the diced potatoes into salted, cold water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5-7 minutes or until just tender and then drain. In the meantime, chop all of your veggies. Heat a wide saute pan over medium heat and add your olive oil. Saute the onion for 2-3 minutes until tender, seasoning with a good pinch of salt. Add the red pepper and zucchini and cook a few minutes more until the zucchini begins to soften. Lastly, add the minced garlic and cook another minute until fragrant. Turn off the heat and allow to cool.
Once the potatoes and veggies are cool enough to handle, transfer both to a large bowl and toss together will all but one handful of the grated cheese. Season to taste with salt.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. To assemble the enchiladas, spoon 1/4 C. of the green sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish and spread just to coat. To make the tortillas easier to work with, remove them from their package and wrap them in a slightly damp kitchen towel (paper towels are fine, too). Microwave for 45-60 seconds or until the tortillas are soft and pliable.
Working with one tortilla at a time, spoon 2 heaping spoonfuls of filling into each tortilla (nice and full!) and roll up, placing it seam-side down in the pan. Continue until all of the tortillas and filling are used up, placing them snugly in the pan together.
Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas, cover tightly with foil and bake for 25-30 minutes or until bubbling. Remove the foil and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the enchiladas. Baking them for an additional 5-15 minutes based on your preference (just 5 minutes and they will remain nice and soft, 15 minutes and they will begin to crisp around the edges. Allow to cool slightly before serving.