When I first eliminated meat and dairy from my diet, one of the easiest transitions for me was cooking Mexican food. I know that sounds backwards, as we often think of Mexican food as cheese drenched entrees and meat fillings, but I found that it was so easy to make vegetable alternatives.
After some experimenting with different types of beans, lentils and vegetables, I found a mix that really works. Its flavorful, full of texture and despite the lack of meat, you still can have a hearty dinner.
For this recipe, I have provided detailed instructions for making restaurant quality vegan enchiladas. Yes, there are a hundred ways to make a enchilada, but I have a few tips for making quicker sauce, crispy tortillas and making hearty fillings.
To print instructions, skip to the recipe at the bottom of the post, or click the “send me the pdf” link at the top or bottom of the post.
There’s a saying in Mexico that goes like this, “Pues no son enchiladas.” In English, this means, “It’s not like making enchiladas.” Basically, no matter how you make it — verde or rojas, pork, beef or veggie– it’s a lot of work! Don’t let that scare you though. There are a few techniques to shorten the process, starting with the sauce.
Traditionally, verde enchilada sauce starts with cooking tomatillos. You either roast or boil them, and then blend them with garlic, onion and other spices. To save yourself 30 minutes of heating water and boiling, start with a can of green verde enchilada sauce. Old El Paso brand is vegan and is a great start to your sauce.
Like my roasted poblano peanut sauce, this recipe requires roasting poblanos in the oven. Turn on your broiler before you start cooking anything. I think the default is 500 degrees, so somewhere close to that temperature is fine. Once the oven is at temperature, add your two poblano peppers and roast for 5-6 minutes on each side. You want them nice and browned.
While the poblanos are roasting in the oven, starting prepping your vegetables. The filling and the extra ingredients added to the canned sauce are similiar, so you can prepare both at the same time. Chop a yellow onion, 4 cloves of garlic, and 1 jalapeno pepper.
Now check on your poblanos peppers! Flip them both over to brown the other side.
Heat both a sauce pan and a medium saute pan over medium heat. Once hot, add 1 tbsp of oil (avocado, olive, or canola) to each pan. Divide your chopped onion in half, and add to each pan.
While the onion is cooking, check on your poblanos. They should be browned on each side. Remove them from the oven and immediately put each on into a Ziploc bag. This will “steam” the peppers and make the skin removal easier. Turn the oven temperature down to 375 degrees.
Add the half of the garlic and jalapeno to the sauce pan. Pour in the can of green enchilada sauce and 1 cup of vegetable broth. Season with 1 tsp of cumin, 1/2 tsp of paprika and 1/4 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of pepper.
Remove one Poblano from the Ziploc. You will see the clear layer of skin and should be able to easily peel and discard it. Dice the pepper and add to the sauce pan. Turn the temperature down to simmer.
Using an immersion blender (or a regular tabletop blender) blend the sauce ingredients until smooth. If the sauce needs to be thickened, add a slurry– mix 1 tsp of cornstarch (arrowroot or tapioca starch will work too) with 1 tsp of water in a small cup. If you used a regular blender to puree the sauce, add the sauce back into the saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the slurry mixture over heat and whisk. Continue to whisk until the sauce has thickened.
Chop 2 zucchini and slice the mushrooms. Add to the sauté pan. Drain and rinse the black beans and add to the zucchini and mushroom mixture. Season with paprika, cumin, salt and pepper.
Remove the remaining poblano peppers from the Ziploc bags, peel off the skin and discard. Slice this pepper into thin strips stir into the filling mixture.
Take about ¼ of a cup of sauce and add to the filling mixture. Stir the filling and lower the heat to medium low.
Heat another saute pan over medium high heat for the tortillas. You can remove your sauce from the stove top and set it aside if you need the stove space. Once the pan is hot, add 1 tsp of avocado or canola oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Fry tortillas for a minute on each side until slightly crispy and lightly browned. This will keep the tortillas from getting soggy in the oven.
I place each one on top of a paper towel and stack them on a plate. This helps absorb the oil.
Tip: I absolutely love using uncooked tortillas. The brand Tortilla Land is at Costco and at Wal-Mart and is so delicious! They literally take one minute to cook on each side, so you will not add any time to your vegan enchiladas.
Spread 2 tbsp. of the enchilada mixture across the bottom of a 9x 11 baking dish. Fill each tortilla with the filling mixture, (careful-they are hot) fold and place seam side down in the baking dish. Once all the tortillas are filled and added to the dish, top with the sauce. I like to reserve a little bit of sauce for serving.
Bake for 5-6 minutes. Yes, it really only takes a few minutes. You have hot sauce, cooked filling, and hot crispy tortillas. The longer the enchiladas sit in the oven smothered in sauce, the soggier they will get.
*Optional: While baking, add 1 cup of soaked raw cashews with ½ cup of water, 1 tsp of liquid smoke, ½ tsp of paprika, ¼ tsp of cumin, 1/8 tsp of salt and 2 tbsp. of lemon juice to a high speed blender. Blend until smooth. Lightly drizzle crema over enchiladas once removed from the oven.
Whew. I know that sounds like a lot of work for a recipe, but I promise you that every step is worth the effort. The roasted poblano peppers add so much flavor to both the sauce and the filling.