Vegetarian Green Chile Enchiladas
There is a small little farmer’s market by my house in Denver that doesn’t actually have much produce at the moment. I think it will probably pick up later in the summer but right now it’s mainly just small batch crafts and foods. The most notable thing, for me, is a ginormous rotating roaster thing with pounds and pounds of green chiles in it.
This is how it works: You are three blocks away and smell green chiles. It’s like a green chile truck has crashed somewhere nearby. You walk toward the ginormous rotating roaster thing. A kind man puts an absurd amount of chiles in a plastic bag and you pay him. You then go home and eat all the chiles as soon as possible.
Preferably in these enchiladas.
Vegetarian Green Chile Enchiladas
Yield: Serves 4-6.
14 corn tortillas (plus a few extra)
8-10 roasted green chiles
3 ears sweet corn
8 ounces pepper jack cheese, grated
Roasted Tomatillo Sauce:
2 pounds tomatillos, halved
2 Serrano peppers, halved
1 white onion, quartered
2 cloves garlic
2 large limes, juice only
Handful of cilantro
Salt and pepper
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Add salsa ingredients except garlic, limes, and cilantro to a baking sheet. Drizzle all ingredients with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
2) Roast veggies for 20-25 minutes until they are soft and slightly charred. Let veggies cool for a few minutes.
3) Add roasted veggies to a blender with lime juice, garlic, and cilantro and blend a few times until combined. It should be a finely ground salsa basically. You might have to blend in a few batches. Transfer blended salsa to a medium pot over medium-low heat to keep warm.
4) Prep filling ingredients by peeling peppers and slicing longwise into quarters, cutting corn off the cob, and grating cheese.
5) Pour a few tablespoons of salsa into a large 9x13 baking dish. Put a small skillet over low heat and add a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Once hot, add one corn tortilla and let cook in oil for five seconds per side just to warm it through.
6) Using tongs, transfer tortilla to pot with hot tomatillo sauce. Coat tortilla lightly in sauce. Transfer tortilla to a clean surface.
7) Add two pepper strips, some corn, and some grated cheese to the tortilla. Roll it up and pack it into the baking dish. Repeat until your baking dish is packed full of enchiladas.
8) IF you have leftover corn, sprinkle it on top of your enchiladas along with any extra tomatillo sauce (you should have 2 cups or so of sauce left). SPrinkle enchiladas with extra cheese and bake covered, for 15 minutes at 350 degrees F. Then uncover and bake for another 15 minutes.
9) Serve enchiladas with sour cream, cilantro, avocado, and hot sauce.
The Green Sauce
I thought about making the sauce for these enchiladas out of green chiles, but since I wanted to make them vegetarian, I thought it would be better to put whole strips of chiles in the actual enchiladas and then use a more mild sauce. So I went the tomatillo route. I chopped up a few pounds of tomatillos with an onion, and a few Serrano peppers and drizzled them with oil and a pinch of salt.
I roasted these for about 25 minutes until they were slightly charred. This salsa recipe is really flexible so feel free to change the ingredients around. I make it a little different every time.
Once your veggies are roasted, add them to a blender along with a handful of cilantro, some lime juice, and a few cloves of garlic. Blend it until it’s mostly smooth and keep it warm in a medium pot over low heat.
Taste it at this point also and make sure to season it with salt. It’ll probably need a pinch.
Now onto the fun part:
If you are lucky enough to be able to get your hands on some freshly roasted chiles, I would shoot for a medium level of spiciness. I used about half of a chile per enchilada for my version so anything too hot will be overkill. Just get a nice mild to medium heat level.
If you aren’t lucky enough to get your hands on some freshly roasted chiles, you can easily roast them yourself. Just buy some medium peppers like Anaheim or Poblano chiles and roast them on your grill or in your oven until they are charred all around. Then stick them in a bag and let them steam for 15-20 minutes which will make it easier to peel the skin off.
Either way, peel your peppers and cut each pepper into strips. You should remove the seeds to the best of your ability, but I don’t recommend rinsing the peppers because the water will wash off all the lovely pepper juice. They don’t have to be perfectly clean.
Also cut your corn off the cob and grate your cheese.
Making the Enchiladas
There’s no two ways about it: making enchiladas is a messy process. Once you get the hang of it though, you should be able to bust out a tray of them pretty quickly.
The most annoying, but also most important step to the enchiladas is to cook the corn tortillas briefly in hot oil which will loosen them up and make them easier to roll. If you don’t do this, the tortillas will just crack and you’ll have a big mess on your hands.
I add about a tablespoon of oil to a small skillet over medium heat and just cook each tortilla for about 5 seconds per side.
Then I immediately transfer my tortilla to my hot pot of tomatillo sauce.
Now for the messy part! Transfer the tortilla to a clean surface and add a few pepper strips, some corn, and some cheese to the tortilla.
Roll that sucker up and transfer it to your baking dish. I like to spoon a few tablespoons of sauce into the dish before adding my enchiladas.
After you’ve made all your enchiladas (you should get 12-14 in a 9×13 baking dish), pour your extra sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle on any extra corn and cheese.
Cover these with foil and bake them for 15 minutes at 350 degrees F. Then remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and hot.
Because of the full strips of peppers, the enchiladas have an almost meaty texture. The tomatillo sauce is surprisingly light and fresh and perfect for the summer.
Betsy and I definitely didn’t miss the meat in these guys and we crushed all of them in two days!