Living in the NYC area for so many years gave us access to good Mexican food. Moved to Berlin and Maine, and the choices became limited (although we found a really good Mexican Restaurant in Milbridge, ME called Vasquez). We have tried a few Mexican restaurants here in Berlin, but have come up flat. Quite often recipes get created based on cravings or food desires, and we went on a search. Tucked into a row of stores in the middle of a long, city block, we found a tiny store that had fresh corn tortillas, Queso Blanca, and real tomatillo salsa! It meant that we would have to semi-make our own enchiladas, but after years of eating really good Mexican food, felt up to the challenge. So should you have a hankering for good Mexican food whilst in Berlin, I suggest make your own, you can find the ingredients at Chili & Paprika.
Best parts about Enchiladas:
- Enchiladas are great for a crowd or a small dinner.
- Vegetarian Enchiladas are a great make ahead meal. Meat might be better a little closer to serving time.
Fillings and Substitutions
One of the best things about a recipes is when you can truly make the jump from what the cook has written to making it your own. This is one such recipe. From Vegan to Vegetarian to Pescatarian to Carnivores, there is a filling that can please pretty much any eater. This recipe went with a vegetarian platform of black beans and sweet potatoes, the cheese is what kept in under the vegetarian heading. Use a soy cheese instead of a dairy based cheese and the dish becomes vegan. Cook and shred chicken, roll it inside the tortilla, and it becomes a meal for a meat-eater. Beans and beans are beans, feel free to use any bean you like. Sweet potatoes felt like an update and very contemporary way to make the enchilada, but Yukon Golds, Fingerlings or Purple Potatoes could easily substitute.
Tortillas can be easily made into a Vegan Version. Tofu or Tempeh work in addition to beans and vegetables. Soy and now, even nut based cheeses can offer some cheese flavour and even melt. No one should be left out when it comes to Mexican food.
Enchiladas for Vegan, Vegetarian, Carnivors – it’s covered
Mexican foods is one of the most flexible cuisines when it comes to substituting for Vegan, Vegetarian, or Carnivores. A tortilla, taco or enchilada can be stuffed with tofu, cheese, meat, chicken or fish. Black and red kidney beans are most often associated with Mexican food, but nowadays, a wide variety of beans can be substituted, and if you really want to go out on a limb, try some lentils or grains instead.
- FLOUR TORTILLA – a flat round bread made out of flour (like a wrap)
- ENCHILADA – flour tortilla that has a filling and is covered in sauce, generally served with rice and beans on the side
- BURRITO – a flour tortilla with filling, similar to a wrap
- CHIMICHANGA – a deep fried burrito
- CORN TORTILLA – flat round bread made from a corn flour known as Masa Harina (corn treated with lime or calcium hydroxide)
- TACO – baked / firm corn tortilla
Salsa/Salsa Fresca/Salsa Verde/Red Sauce
Salsa is a tomato based sauce that has onions, sometimes peppers and usually has a rustic texture to it. Salsa Fresca is fresh tomatoes and onions. Salsa that comes in a jar from the grocery store is usually cooked and while it may retain its rustic chunkiness, the tomatoes are cooked to for a saucy base.
Salsa Fresca is fresh tomatoes and onions.
Salsa Verde is a base of tomatillos and onions, there may be other peppers and cilantro added. It is typically a loose sauce.
Red Sauce, is what is usually covering the tortillas when you get an Enchilada. It is usually smooth in texture, a bit on the spicy side and might even be a bit smoky tasting.
Colourful is the way to go. Enchiladas open themselves to being filled with a rainbow of colourful vegetables. The bright reds, oranges, and green hues that make up this dish are packed with our favourite health components of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. We’d love to hear what you put in yours, email us!
According to Organic Facts, Let’s Get Healthy Together, tomatoes offer a wide range of health benefits:
“The health benefits of tomatoes are many and include eye care, good stomach health, and reduced blood pressure. They may provide relief from skin problems, and urinary tract infections, and may reduce the risk of diabetes, too. Furthermore, they improve digestion, stimulate blood circulation, reduce cholesterol levels, improve fluid balance, protect the kidneys, and reduce inflammation. Tomatoes consist of a large number of antioxidants may help fight different types of cancer. They are also a rich source of vitamins and minerals and exert a protective effect against cardiovascular diseases.” (Organic Facts, Let’s Get Healthy Together accessed March 11, 2020)
A definite “it” food at the moment, even though not new to the dinner plate, Sweet Potatoes offer many healthy nutrients and depending on the color and texture can have a variety of healthy components. In general they all offer benefits to being part of a healthy diet:
“The red variety has a drier and harder flesh while the white and yellow sweet potatoes have juicier flesh. The red variety has a characteristic aroma which becomes more prominent when boiled. The variety of taste, textures, and colors can be attributed to its antioxidants and vitamin content. The reddish and orange the colored sweet potatoes are rich in beta carotene, while the purple sweet potatoes are rich in anthocyanin.” (Organic Facts, Let’s Get Healthy Together, accessed March 11, 2020)
In addition according to Organic Facts, Sweet Potatoes can aid in digestion, reduce inflammation, boost the immune system, reduce arthritis pain, possibly protect agains the formation of cancerous cells, help to treat stomach ulcers and manage diabetes. Organic Facts, Let’s Get Healthy Together, accessed March 11, 2020)
A note on cheese
Grocery stores stock what is commonly known as a Mexican blend consisting of Monterey Jack and Cheddar. I won’t stop you from purchasing it, but be aware that when it says “cellulose” or anti-caking agent in the ingredients list, what they mean is that there is wood pulp. Yup. Wood. Wood Pulp. Ick.
Buy blocks of cheese and grate it yourself. It is fresher. It is made without wood pulp (ick, again). That’s enough for me to risk a grated knuckle. You? If you can find Mexican cheeses, give them a try, they are well worth it. If not, Montery Jack and/or Cheddar are absolutely fine, again, just not pre-shredded. Your Enchilada eaters will thank you.
Enchilada side dish – Red Rice & Leeks
- 8oz/2225g cooked white or brown rice
- 1 large leek, cleaned and sliced
- 2 large chopped tomatoes or 6oz/170g canned chopped tomatoes
- 2 TBSP olive oil
In a large saucepan, sauté the leeks until softened. Add the tomatoes and heat through.
Add the rice, cook until thoroughly warmed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Additional Mexican recipes to try:
Chili Relleño Casserole from Savor the Best
Veggie Enchilada from Jamie Oliver
Tres Leches Cake from Tastes Better From Scratch
Scrambled Eggs w/ Tomatoes (Substitute Salsa for the Tomatoes and you have Huevos Rancheros) from Bleuberet
Our Best Authentic Mexican and Mexican-Inspired Recipes from Saveur
Check out Bleuberet’s Pantry Staples for some Mexican Sauce, Salsa and Seasoning recommendations
Baked Enchiladas stuffed with black beans and sweet potatoes. Topped with Salsa (Red Sauce) and Sauce Verde, scrumptious, healthy and homemade. Preheat oven to 350°F Bake sweet potatoes in their skins for 30-35 mintues. They should be soft, but still firm enough to slice. Allow to cool before peeling and slicing into .25"/.65cm. Set aside. In a baking dish, large enough to hold the 6 tortillas, rolled, spread Red Sauce on the bottom. Grate or slice the cheese. Lay a tortilla flat. Arrange cheese, beans and sweet potatoes. Roll tightly and place in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and fillings. Cover with the remaining red sauce. Spread the Salsa Verde over the top of the tortillas. Place remaining cheese over the top. Bake at 350°F/175°C for 25-30 minutes. Serve with sour cream and freshly chopped cilantro. Vegan Version: replace cheese with a soy or nut based cheese
Meat Version: add shredded chicken or browned beef to the to the tortillas before rolling
Vegetarian Enchiladas w/ Black Beans & Sweet Potatoes
Baked Enchiladas stuffed with black beans and sweet potatoes. Topped with Salsa (Red Sauce) and Sauce Verde, scrumptious, healthy and homemade.
Preheat oven to 350°F
Bake sweet potatoes in their skins for 30-35 mintues. They should be soft, but still firm enough to slice. Allow to cool before peeling and slicing into .25"/.65cm.
In a baking dish, large enough to hold the 6 tortillas, rolled, spread Red Sauce on the bottom.
Grate or slice the cheese.
Lay a tortilla flat. Arrange cheese, beans and sweet potatoes. Roll tightly and place in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and fillings.
Cover with the remaining red sauce.
Spread the Salsa Verde over the top of the tortillas.
Place remaining cheese over the top.
Bake at 350°F/175°C for 25-30 minutes.
Serve with sour cream and freshly chopped cilantro.
Vegan Version: replace cheese with a soy or nut based cheese Meat Version: add shredded chicken or browned beef to the to the tortillas before rolling
Do you make Mexican Food?
We want to hear from you. Send us your recipes, we love to hear what our readers make and a photo. Who knows, we might post it! (Please note, if we post a recipe, we will test it and edit it where necessary in the instruction section.) EMAIL US YOUR THOUGHTS, IDEAS AND RECIPES!