Enchiladas are a classic Mexican dish that is popular all over the World. Here’s a vegetarian take that everyone can enjoy.
Just because you don’t eat meat it doesn’t mean that you’ll have to give up enchiladas! In fact, I actually grew up on vegetarian enchiladas. My family wasn’t vegetarian but the ones my mother made for us (I’ll share that recipe another time) were only vegetables and a little bit of cheese. It wasn’t until I ordered chicken enchiladas at a Mexican restaurant in the US that I found out people stuffed them with meat. Mexican cuisine can differ so much from region to region so there is always something new to discover.
Ever since going Pescetarian my husband and I have eaten our fill of vegetarian enchiladas and not once missed the meat filled ones — I have always preferred the meatless ones anyways.
Vegetarian and vegan enchiladas are often on our table, but I have to admit that enchiladas can be a bit of a labour intensive to prepare. Don’t let that discourage you because once the work is done and you take your first bite you’ll see how every step is worth the effort.
In this enchiladas version that I’m sharing today we first need to make the salsa verde from scratch — but if you live in a place where the tomatillos (the little green tomatoes pictured above) aren’t available fresh, then feel free to use a jar of good salsa verde. Do read my tips on using jarred salsa in this article.
If you want to save yourself a little time you can always prepare the salsa and roast the poblano peppers the day before. But if you have like an hour to cook then you can do everything on the same day.
The cheese I used is Oaxaca cheese, which is a mild tasting stringy cheese that you can pull apart. You should be able to find it at your local grocery store or if not at any Mexican food stores. If you just cannot get your hands on it then substitute with any stringy cheese that pulls apart or even mozzarella cheese.
- 1.5 lb. or 700 grams of fresh Poblano peppers
- 7 oz or 200 grams of Oaxaca cheese (use more if desired)*, pulled apart into even-sized pieces
- small piece of white onion, roughly chopped
- one clove of garlic
- large pinch of sea salt
- one Tablespoon of oil
- 1.1 lb. or 500 gms tomatillos
- 3 serranos, stem removed and seeded if desired (you can add less for a milder salsa)
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 3.5 oz or 100 gm white onion
- ½ cup or 118 ml of the boiling broth
- large pinch of fine sea salt, adjust to taste
- very large handful of fresh cilantro (you can include some of the stem too)
- 10 to 12 corn tortillas
- olive oil
- vegetable oil for lightly frying
- sliced white onion for topping, optional
- Mexican sour cream for topping, optional
- You'll find the easy instructions for roasting the Poblanos here. (You can also char them under the broiler setting in your oven, if you don't have a gas stove.) Once you’ve charred the Poblanos, place on a plate and cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 10 minutes or until you can handle them without burning your fingers.
- Once you've cleaned the peppers according to the instructions, then slice then into strips. Next sauté the Poblano strips with a little oil, the onion, garlic and salt. Lastly add the pulled apart Oaxaca cheese and mix into the pan. Cook just until the cheese begins to melt, turn off the heat, cover and set aside.
- Place all of the ingredients from the salsa list -- except the salt -- in a pot with enough water to cover them. Allow to simmer until the vegetables are soft. Once the vegetables are soft, gently scoop out them out and into a blender, and add the sea salt into a blender container. Next add a ladle full of the boiling liquid or broth and carefully blend until everything is completely broken down. In total I add about ½ cup of the boiling broth to make this salsa, you need enough liquid just to achieve a smooth constancy. Lastly add the fresh cilantro and blend until well incorporated. Taste the salsa and if needed add more salt.
- In the same pot that you've boiled the salsa ingredients (discard any remaining liquid) heat about one tablespoon of oil, once hot add the salsa from the blender -- be careful the heat may cause it to splash up! Simmer the salsa on low heat and uncovered for about 5 minutes.
- By now your pepper and cheese stuffing may have cooled down so if needed reheat just until warm before proceeding.
- In a frying pan heat about ¼ cup of vegetable oil. You'll know it's hot enough when you put a wooden spoon into the oil and bubbles from around the spoon. Now line a dish with paper towels and get a pair of tongs ready to use. Additionally have the serving dish ready to place the enchiladas on once ready. Next wrap your tortillas in a clean kitchen cloth or a paper towel and microwave them just for a second or two -- all you need is for them to warm up slightly and become bendable and not break when doing so.
- Carefully place one tortilla at a time into the hot oil. "Fry" it just for a minute or two, once it begins to bubble around then it's ready. Carefully remove from the hot oil then lay on the paper towel lined plate to remove excess oil. Then dip into the salsa to evenly coat the tortilla, place on the serving dish and scoop a heaving Tablespoon or so of the filling into the centre of the tortilla. Gently fold into a half moon shape.
- Repeat step 3 until you've used up all of the filling, tortillas and salsa. Top with slivers of white onion and cilantro leaves if desired. Some people also like to drizzle some sour cream over the enchiladas, it's your choice. If there is extra salsa leftover then drizzle it over the enchiladas. Enjoy!
- Do allow yourself plenty of time to prepare this meal. Once you get the hang of enchiladas you'll be able to make them much faster.
Like I said, labour intensive but very much worth the effort — I mean we all know that good food takes time.
These enchiladas are currently our favourite vegetarian enchiladas and so I hope you too can get the chance to taste them.