Frequently my dinner plans center around something in my fridge or cupboard that needs to be used for one reason or another. Today was a day like that. A few weeks ago I bought a container of green salsa verde with avocado from Trader Joe’s. I was looking for the great green salsas I used to get at taquerias in Houston. Well, I bought it and forgot about it in the fridge till I cleaned out the fridge yesterday and discovered it had a use-by date of today. So, I went to the internet in search of a good easy green chili enchilada recipe that I could bend to my ingredients and my Meatless Monday vegetarian requirement. The Simply Recipes blog had my starting point (which you can find here).
Enchiladas are almost always cooked in their sauce, but I choose not to do that with this recipe. I wanted the flavor of the salsa to stay fresh and the avocado to keep its texture and creaminess. So, I decided to cook the enchiladas with nothing except a little cheese on top, and I loved the result; a perfectly simple enchilada that tasted of cheese, corn and chili with just a hint of creamy avocado. The tortillas didn’t have any sauce to soak up, so they held their form instead of getting soggy. Also, not having any sauce to heat up sped up the cooking time considerably.
Because I was able to crank these bad boys out while he was napping, Little Guy and I spent all afternoon playing around in the backyard. I took the enchiladas out of the fridge when we came in and then popped them in the oven right before we ate. Since I was in hurry and short on ingredients I threw together a crazy simple imitation Mexican rice that turned out great. I shoved it full of peas and carrots to trick the little guy into eating his veg – and boom – dinner was done.
Important note from the science desk (yes there’s a science desk!): I mention that you can make these ahead of time and keep them in the fridge until time to cook them. Well, not all cooking vessels are created equal when it comes to going straight from the fridge to the oven. Some newer pans are not made from the same material that older pans were. Older glass baking dishes were made from borosilicate glass: a type that expands very little as it is heated. Nowadays dishes sold perhaps under the same tradename are made from common soda-lime glass. This glass expands much more as it is heated, so if it expands too rapidly or unevenly, it can break violently. For more on this issue, read the article that can be found here. So, if you plan to go from fridge to oven, make sure your pan is heat safe!
Super Fast and Easy Green Chili Enchiladas
makes 12 enchiladas
Any good quality green chili salsa will do for the top, but Trader Joe’s with avocado is really nice. It’s fresh and the avocados give the salsa a mellow creaminess that really makes the meal. I call for 10 oz of cheese because I really like cheese, but you could easily use an 8 oz. package and just go without the extra on top. You can stuff and roll these ahead of time and keep them in the fridge until you are ready to start cooking.
1 mild green chili (like poblano or cubanelle)
1 package corn tortillas (12 – 6″ tortillas)
non-stick cooking spray
10 oz monterey jack cheese, shredded
6 oz green chili salsa with avocado (or any good quality green chili salsa)
Place the chili over the open flame and rotate until all sides are dark and the chili is bubbly all over. If you don’t have open gas burners, use the broiler for this step. Wrap in a towel and set aside for at least 10 minutes. Then remove it from the towel and use a knife to remove the skin from the pepper. Remove the top and seeds from the pepper and cut into twelve strips. Set aside.
Preheat an oven to 450 degrees and spray a 9×13″ pan with non-stick cooking spray. Heat an 8″ skillet over medium heat. Spray one side of a tortilla and place in the skillet; spray the other side. Let the tortilla cook for about 20-30 seconds per side, or until it is soft and starts to bubble. Remove the tortilla to your work surface. Place 1/2 ounce of cheese (about 2 tablespoons) along the bottom third of your tortilla and top with one strip of chili. Roll up and place in the greased pan. Repeat with remaining tortillas, 5 1/2 ounces of the cheese and the strips of chilis. Top with the remaining 4 ounces of shredded cheese and place in the preheated oven.
Cook for 10 minutes. Once the cheese has melted and starts to bubble turn the oven to broil and continue to cook for another 2 minutes. The enchiladas are done when the cheese on top is light golden brown. While the enchiladas are cooking, heat the salsa in the microwave. Top each enchilada with one tablespoons of salsa.
Play by Play…
This is the salsa that started the meal idea for tonight.
Roast the pepper over an open flame until all sides are evenly charred.
Wrap chili in a towel for 10 minutes to let the steam loosen the skin and make it easier to remove.
Use the blade of a knife to scrape the skin from the chili.
The little guy’s first enchilada. He liked the first few bites then ate out the cheese and all the rice. Oh well, next time I’ll get him to eat them.
Cheater’s Mexican Rice
I call this cheater’s Mexican rice because it was just so easy to make that it seems like you must be cheating. The flavor is no cheat though. Try to resist the urge to use grocery store taco seasonings because they usually contain MSG. If you don’t have taco seasoning you can use 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp cumin and 1 tsp oregano.
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs olive oil
1 cup long grain rice
1 tbs taco seasoning (I use Penzey’s)
1 cup frozen peas and carrots
1 1/2 cups low sodium vegetable broth (or chicken)
Saute garlic and oil over medium heat until garlic is fragrant. Add rice and continue to cook until rice grains turn opaque. Add taco seasoning, peas and carrots and broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Stir once, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.