by Diane Rossen Worthington
These vegetarian enchiladas may linger in your memory long after you have enjoyed them. Savory yet slightly sweet, these squash-stuffed tortillas are just unusual enough to brighten up any meal. If you don't have time to make tomatillo salsa, buy ready-made from the store. You can now find peeled and precut butternut or other winter squash in supermarkets that will save you even more time. These shortcuts help cut out lots of steps.
You will have to do a few things in advance to put these amazing enchiladas together. To roast the garlic, wrap 15 peeled garlic cloves in foil and bake at 375 F for about 45 minutes, or until soft. Cool the garlic cloves and mash them to a paste. The roasted garlic puree adds a complex flavor layer to the squash. Make up the spicy crema by adding a few dashes of chipotle Tabasco or other hot sauce to Mexican crema or sour cream. You can also switch out the corn for cooked black beans for a different taste.
Once all of the preparation is done, you can have fun putting these together with friends, almost like an assembly line. I have doubled the recipe successfully for larger parties and have often doubled it so I can freeze a recipe for a future meal. You can prepare these a day ahead, cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before baking. If they are frozen, defrost and reheat.
Serve this as vegetarian main course along with a simple green salad with toasted pumpkin seeds. Or serve as a side dish on with roast chicken or grilled shrimp. Chilled Mexican beer, Sauvignon Blanc or a spicy Zinfandel would be a nice accompaniment.
Winter Squash Enchiladas with Tomatillo Salsa and Spicy Crema Recipe
1 winter squash, about 2 1/2 pounds, halved or 2 pounds precut, peeled and seeded squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 leeks, light green and white part only, finely chopped
1 tablespoon roasted garlic (see above)
1 cup corn kernels (about 2 ears, shucked) or frozen and defrosted
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
3 cups shredded Mexican cheese
1 recipe Tomatillo Salsa (see below) or favorite store-bought
1/2 cup spicy crema (see above)
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro, for garnish
1. Carefully cut the peel from the squash and cut the flesh into 1-inch slices, removing the seeds. (Or use the pre-cup and peeled squash.) In a large steamer put 2 inches of water on the bottom and bring to a boil. Using tongs, carefully place the squash slices in the steamer, cover and steam on medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until fork tender. OR Place the squash in a glass bowl. Cover loosely with plastic and microwave on high for 5 minutes or until fork tender. Reserve.
2. In a large skillet, heat the oil on medium-high heat. Add the leeks and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes or until very soft and lightly browned. Add the cooked squash and roasted garlic and continue sautéing for 2 to 3 more minutes or until the squash is soft and mashed. (Use a potato masher to mash it up.). Add the corn and cook another minute. Add the cumin, salt, pepper and cilantro, and mix to combine. Reserve.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a 9- by 13-inch baking pan.
4. Transfer the cheese into a bowl. Place the bowls of squash, cheese and salsa on a counter with individual serving spoons.
5. Using tongs, place each tortilla over the flame of the burner or in a non-stick skillet for about 10 seconds to soften it. Place each tortilla on the counter and fill with 1 big tablespoon of the squash filling down the middle of the tortilla. Sprinkle two tablespoons of the cheese on top and then roll it up. Place the enchilada seam side down in the baking pan. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.
6. Pour over the salsa evenly. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the enchiladas. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the enchiladas are bubbling and the cheese has melted.
7. To serve, place 2 enchiladas on a plate and put a dollop of the spicy crema on top. Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately.
Advance Preparation: The roasted garlic, salsa and spicy crema can be made 1 day ahead, covered and refrigerated. The squash can be made 1 day ahead through step 2, covered and refrigerated.
Tomatillo Salsa Recipe
The tomatillo resembles a small green tomato. A relative of the Cape gooseberry, tomatillos have a slightly lemony, herbal flavor. If fresh tomatillos are unavailable, substitute a drained 12-ounce can of tomatillos.
Makes about 1 3/4 cups.
1 3/4 cups chicken stock
3/4 pound tomatillos, husked, rinsed and diced
4 scallions, light green and white part, sliced thinly
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1/ 4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 jalapeno chilies, finely chopped (or to taste)
2 teaspoons lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1. Combine the stock, tomatillos, scallions, garlic, cumin and 1 chopped chili in a pan on medium-high heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat, partially cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until slightly thickened. Cool slightly. With a hand blender puree the mixture leaving some texture. Add the remaining chili, lime juice, cilantro and salt. Taste for seasoning. Cover and refrigerate. Remove from refrigerator 1/2 hour before serving.
Vegetarian Enchiladas Recipe, Mexican Cuisine