01 August 2012

Black Bean & Zucchini Enchiladas

I learned something about my husband this week - enchiladas are his all-time favorite food.  It seems almost blasphemous coming from a Canadian, but it's true (his maple-loving lips said so themselves).  Take any tasty, cheesy filling, wrap in in a tortilla, slather it in sauce and cover with even more cheese and I have a happy man.  Naturally, I like making meals that please the whole household, so I've experimented with healthy enchiladas lately.  Perhaps that's why I was so delighted when he couldn't get enough of my Black Bean & Zucchini Enchiladas.  Here we get enough cheese to make him happy and plenty of veggies for me.

This zucchini and black bean filling is pretty much the love of my foodie life at the moment (after the hubs and the pups, of course).  When wrapped up in a tortilla, you have wonderful texture, pops of flavor and a bright salsa base.  Zucchini contains quite a bit of water. so the end result is incredibly moist and juicy.  But by far the best element of this dish is the cheese.  Ahh, the glories of a salty, crumbly cheese.  It may not be the most traditional option, but I love firm cheese in enchiladas.  Rather than melting, they keep their shape and provide little pops of salty deliciousness in every bite.  And when it comes to Mexican, cotija is my favorite.  It's flavor and texture are incredibly similar to feta, and we often substitute one for the other seamlessly.  

Take a peek - rather than oodles of cheese, you have little specks of white cotija riddled throughout the filling.  Yum!  Of course, some gooey goodness is required, and is included on top.  After all, the hubs needs his melty cheese....

Now I love a really luscious, decadent and indulgent dish.  So does the hubs.  But let's face it, you can't always eat for flavor alone.  There's absolutely no reason why a delicious dish cannot also be healthy.  You do not need rivers of cheese and rich beef sauces for a fantastic enchilada.  Here, you have plenty of protein from the black beans, calcium from the modest amounts of cheese, whole grain from corn tortillas and let's not forget about the big heaping serving of zucchini you get in here.  This is just the kind of dinner that justifies your second scoop of frozen yogurt on a Thursday night.

I've made this dish with both corn and flour tortillas and both are delicious.  However, we unanimously prefer corn in this one.  See that nice little golden tortilla edge that isn't covered in cheese directly above?  That's total crispy corn goodness.  The exposed bits toast up wonderfully for a great little textural surprise.  We also really like the way these heartier tortillas absorb the flavors of the sauce.  But if you have strong opinions regarding your tortillas, use whatever you enjoy the most.  

Oh....and don't forget your favorite green hot sauce!

As a little side note, the filling recipe makes enough for about 8-10 corn tortillas, more than I've listed below in the recipe.  This was deliberate.  Again, this filling is my new obsession which I have been eating around the clock.  Mix with a few scrambled eggs and you have one killer breakfast burrito.  Thank me later for that one.....

Black Bean & Zucchini Enchiladas (3-4 servings)
  • 6 small corn tortillas (or 4 small flour tortillas)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 c shredded zucchini
  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 c cotija or feta 
  • 2/3 c oaxaca or mozzarella 
  • 1 1/2 c salsa verde
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Place a large skillet on medium high heat and preheat oven to 375 degrees.  When the pan is hot, add the onion and cook until they start to soften, about 3 minutes.  Add the zucchini and cook for another 2 minutes, then add black beans, stir and let cook for another minute.  Remove from heat and transfer into a large mixing bowl.  Add the 1/3 c oaxaca, 1/2 c cotija and 1/2 cup of the salsa verde.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine.  Keep in mind that you are working with salty cheese...be a little less generous than usual!

Pour 1/2 cup of salsa verde into the bottom of a glass baking dish.  To assemble enchiladas, scoop a generous 1/4 cup of filling onto each tortilla and roll tightly.  Place seam side down in the sauced baking dish.  Repeat until you have filled the desired number of tortillas.  Top rolls with the remaining 1/2 cup of salsa verde (or more, to your saucy preference).  Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and place directly in the oven.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until sauce begins to bubble.  Turn the broiler onto high and broil for 2-3 minutes, until cheese is golden and tortillas are beginning to brown.  Garnish with cilantro if desired and your favorite hot sauce.  

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