16 April 2014

Blanco Verde Enchiladas with Fish & White Beans

Have I mentioned my affinity for the color green?  To call it my favorite would be an understatement.  The main color for our wedding, the pattern on our china, the color of our first piece of Le Creuset cookware, even the color contacts I wore throughout college...all green.  But even I had to chuckle at my produce haul this past week:  broccoli, spring onions, zucchini, peppers, apples and avocados made the red cherry tomatoes seem somewhat flamboyant.  With all the budding blooms outdoors and fresh produce indoors, it is the perfect time of year for some very green (and very good) enchiladas.

Now most people do not have the same level of unabashed enthusiasm as I do for things like kale and green peppers, but even my cookie-monster hubs will interrupt his rampage through our stash of thin mints for a plate of these healthy and hearty enchiladas.  (Side note: thin mints = green box = dead serious about the intro.)  I love sneaking vegetables into recipes, but find it far more satisfying to turn a veggie hater into a lover with a blatant and delicious serving of produce.

Let's talk for a moment about green peppers.  A seriously underutilized member of the fruit (yes, fruit!) family, they have an undeservedly bad rep.  For example, my mom can't stand them fresh or cooked, and picks them out of pretty much everything.  But when combined with the flavorful onions, flakey fish, tender white beans and fresh salsa verde in this recipe, she munches them down with exclamations of "I can't believe there's green peppers in here!"  With over 50 years of hatred under her belt, that's a big win for this little pepper.

While the hubs and I munched this down over dinner this past weekend, he asked how unhealthy they were.  I laughed.  Why?  Simply because there's nothing I classify as unhealthy in here at all.  The filling contains a slew of cooked vegetables and two sources of lean protein from the fish and white beans.  The verde sauce and green chiles add more flavor than calories, and the olive oil and part-skim mozzarella provide healthy fats and calcium.  I even use low carb, high fiber whole wheat tortillas to really make this into an extra good-for-you meal.

Now let's say you're a vegetarian.  No prob!  Just nix the fish and double up on the white beans.  It's a great meal option for when you have herbivores to dine.  Or if you aren't a big fan of beans, you could skip those and go with only fish.  You could even use chicken (but the tender fish is really delightful).  As my yoga instructor would say, it's a yogi's choice.  Modify with what most tempts your taste-buds.

Of course the hubs looks happy...he's about to eat these amazing enchiladas!  And that's a sneak appearance by the pups.

Blanco Verde Enchiladas with Fish & White Beans (serves 2-3)

  • 3 fillets white fish (catfish or tilapia)
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 c kale, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 4-oz can green chiles 
  • 3/4 c white beans, rinsed and drained (I like great northern)
  • 1/4 c cilantro
  • 1 c mozzarella, grated & divided
  • 2-4 tbs hot sauce (optional)
  • 10 oz verde salsa or enchilada sauce
  • 5-6 8-inch tortillas (we use whole wheat)
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • sour cream & cilantro, to garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place a non-stick pan over medium-high heat.  Season your fish with salt and pepper.  When hot, brush the pan with olive oil or spray with non stick.  Add the fish to the pan and grill until cooked through, about 3-4 minutes on each side.  Remove to a cutting board or plate and set aside.

Add the green peppers and onion to the pan and reduce the heat to medium.  Season with more pepper, then cook until the onions are lightly browned and the peppers are tender, about 8 minutes.  Transfer the vegetables to a medium mixing bowl and set aside.

Add the chopped kale to the pan and cook until wilted and tender, about 3 minutes.  Add the minced garlic and cook for another 60-90 seconds, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is fragrant.  Transfer to the mixing bowl with the peppers and onions.  Add the green chiles, white beans, cilantro, 1/2 cup of mozzarella, hot sauce (if desired) and 2 ounces of the enchilada sauce.  Mix together well.

Spray a 9x12 baking dish with non-stick.  To assemble the enchiladas, place a tortilla on a cutting board.  Scoop about 1/2 cup of the filling onto the tortilla and spread in an even line.  Top with half a tilapia fillet, breaking the fish apart with your fingers to distribute evenly along the length of the enchilada.  Roll and place seam-down in the prepared baking dish.  Repeat until you have used all the filling and fish.

Top the rolled enchiladas with the remaining 8 ounces of enchilada sauce and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.  Bake for 20 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and fragrant.  Turn the broiler onto high and toast until the cheese and tortillas are golden (how long depends on your oven, but about 2 minutes for ours).  Serve hot, topped with sliced avocado, sour cream and cilantro. 

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