Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Veggie Inspiration: Favorite Enchilada Dinner

Saturday night dinner is often my most complicated meal of the week. During much of the year I pick up my CSA veggie box on Thursdays. In winter, there's a local farmer's market on Saturday. Either way, I have lots of fresh vegetables, time and inspiration.

At the farmer's market this past Saturday I found red onions, green cabbage, and cilantro. The cilantro came from a local farm's greenhouse and the guy who cut it described to me the smell when he's in the greenhouse cutting bunches. I'd love to be there. I knew I had some related items at home (peppers and a lime) and a dinner idea was born: green chicken enchiladas (adapted from Martha Stewart Quick Cook Menus) and south of the border slaw.

At home, a pound of frozen chicken cutlets and some enchilada greens that I had frozen (half of a big batch I made during the CSA season you can see the type of thing that goes into it at this post) came out to defrost. The enchilada greens consist of sauteed onion, spicy peppers (like jalapenos) and some kind of greens (spinach or chard or mild kale, radish or beet greens).

South of the Border Slaw
bell peppers
red onion
lime juice
salt, pepper

First I make the slaw. I did a rough chop of about 3/4 of the cabbage, a rough dice of some colored peppers, and made thin slivers of a small red onion. I do very little measuring. Into that veggie combo went about 1/2 cup mayonnaise, juice from half a lime, a pinch of salt and about a 1/4 cup cilantro leaves and stems chopped. Stir and slaw goes into the fridge. Finished.

Green Chicken Enchiladas
1 lb. chicken poached chicken breast meat
1 pint sour cream
4oz jar chopped chili peppers
1 Tbs cumin,
enchilada greens (sauteed onions, jalapenos, chard/spinach/kale)
beans, your favorite (cooked or canned)
burrito size tortillas
cheddar cheese shredded

While various laundry, taking away the last Christmas decoration and other tasks are going on, I poach the chicken breasts (15-20 minutes in slow simmering water depending on the thickness). When they are done, set them in a bowl to cool while you prepare the enchilada filling and sauce.

A pint of sour cream, 4 oz. jar of chopped green chilies, Tbsp of cumin, another handful of chopped cilantro, and salt and pepper go into a bowl. Add the premade enchilada greens (if you haven't a stash of this, it can be sauteed while you're poaching the chicken. Here's what that looks like:

After this is stirred, I place half of the mixture back into the sour cream container to save for sauce. I shred the now cooled chicken and add it to the mixture with prepared beans (canned is fine). I like to use small white beans or navy beans, but I only had red beans for this batch. Here's what that mixture looks like filling the purchased whole wheat tortillas:

I usually fill 7 to 8 tortillas with this mixture and put them in a buttered 9x13 pyrex pan. The reserved sauce sour cream/greens sauce gets spread over the top and about 4-6 oz shredded cheddar goes on top of that.

Bake for half an hour at 375 degrees. If my daughter is around, she will be my stirrer and cheese shredder. She might also whip up a Fannie Farmer "Mix-in-the-Pan Chocolate Cake" that can bake at the same time the enchiladas are in the oven. (I'll keep the oven at cake baking temp 350 if this is going on). I love to fill the oven if I'm turning it on anyway. If I were planning to make squash soup the next day or had some beets to roast up for salads, I'd throw those in while dinner is cooking too. Out come the enchiladas, melty and slightly browned:

Grab the slaw and some fruit and plate up a veggie-rich favorite meal.

This meal fed our family for 2 nights. This enchilada recipe is one of those in my repertoire that takes the most time and planning. But it is worth it once in a while. Especially, if the next night just requires a quick reheat.

But I must qualify that my picky, vegetarian daughter gets an amended meal. (I wish I had taken a picture of her plate). Through nearly the entire cooking process, I am putting aside raw and/or no meat/no sauce versions of the meal for her. Her plate holds a quesadila (cheese and tortilla slipped into the oven near the end of the cooking time for the enchiladas), a couple spoonfulls of beans, slices of raw peppers, and fruit. I'll often throw some almonds or peanuts on her plate too.

It seems crazy that I am still doing this for her at age 11, but even as a baby she had serious issues with the texture of food. She eats a great variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, and dairy products, but they must be separate and clean. Her eating style is likely the healthiest of us all.

The point of this post is not necessarily that you will make this rather complicated recipe, but rather to highlight how fresh, local ingredients spark my creativity in the kitchen. The smell of cilantro starts me creating a Mexican style meal. Beautiful bok choy from my CSA will have me preparing an Asian stir fry. Mounds of tomatoes will have me roasting up a batch for dinner and a batch for the freezer. Throughout the year I am inspired by the local produce around me.


Kaat at MamaStories said...

Cilantro makes me think *Indian*.
I can't wait for our CSA to go into effect!
But I *can* wait, for ever, for the hoop house to collapse under the snow again!
But I can't wait for the garden to start growing again.
Time to start up the lights in the basement soon. Want to come and check out some seed catalogs?

Andrea said...

Have you been to the Russel's Saturday farmer's market. It was so great, but so crowded last week.

heather said...