Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas with Creamy Tomatillo Sauce and Melted Cheese
A note about vegetables: feel free to use broccoli, asparagus, zucchini and other green vegetables, too. Just roast them on a separate baking sheet, since they’ll be done 5 to 10
minutes quicker than those suggested in the recipe.
Working Ahead: The sauce can be made a day or two ahead; refrigerate covered. After the tortillas have been heated in the oven, you need to work quickly and steadily toward serving in order to preserve their beautiful texture. Once out of the oven, the finished dish softens to near mush over a period of 15 to 20 minutes.
Serves 4 to 6
- 1 pound (6 to 8) tomatillos, husked and rinsed
- 1 medium white onion, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- Fresh hot green chiles to taste (2 or 3 serranos, 1 or 2 jalapeños), stemmed
- 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus extra for roasting the vegetables and brushing or spraying the tortillas
- 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth, plus a little extra if needed
- 1/2 cup Mexican crema (see below), crème fraîche or heavy (whipping) cream
- 8 cups cubed vegetables (about 1/2-inch cubes are good) – delicious choices are chayote, carrots, white or red onions, small turnips, kohlrabi, mushrooms and peeled butternut squash
- 12 corn tortillas
- 2/3 cup shredded Mexican melting cheese (like Chihuahua, quesadilla, or asadero) or Monterey Jack, brick or mild cheddar
- A few sliced rounds of white onion, separated into rings, for garnish
- Fresh cilantro sprigs, for garnish
1. Make the sauce. Roast the tomatillos, sliced onion, peeled garlic and chiles on a rimmed baking sheet 4 inches below a hot broiler until the tomatillos are soft and blotchy black on one side, 4 or 5 minutes. Turn everything over and roast the other side. Remove and reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees.
Scrape the tomatillo mixture into a blender or food processor. Process to a smooth puree. Heat the 1 tablespoons of oil in a medium-large (4- or 5-quart) pot over medium high. When the oil is hot enough to make a drop of the puree sizzle, add the puree all at once. Stir nearly constantly for several minutes until darker and thicker. Add the broth and the crema, reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.
2. Roast the vegetables. Spread the cubed vegetables on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle or spritz with oil, sprinkle with salt and stir to coat evenly. Roast, stirring regularly, until the carrots are crunchy-tender, about 25 minutes.
3. Finish the sauce, heat the tortillas. If the sauce has thickened beyond the consistency of a light cream soup, stir in a little more broth (or water). Taste and season with salt, usually about 1 teaspoon. Lightly brush or spray both sides of each tortilla with oil. Slide into a plastic bag and microwave on high (100%) for 1 minute to warm and soften.
4. Finish the enchiladas. Smear a few tablespoons of the sauce over the bottom of four to six 9-inch individual ovenproof baking/serving dishes or smear about 1 cup of the sauce over the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Working quickly so the tortillas stay hot and pliable, roll a portion of the roasted vegetables into each tortilla, then line them all up in the baking dish(es). Douse evenly with the remaining sauce, then sprinkle with the cheese. Bake until the enchiladas are heated through (the cheese will have begun to brown), about 10 minutes. Garnish with onion rings and cilantro sprigs. These are best served piping hot from the oven.
A tub of crème fraîche will provide you the closest thing to real Mexican crema, since, to my knowledge, there are no artisanal Mexican dairies producing high-quality traditional creams and cheeses in wide distribution in the United States. Crème fraîche and crema are essentially the same, meaning that they are both cultured creams and that there is a lot of variety from brand to brand, region to region, season to season. You can culture your own crema using the long-standing recipe: Add 1 tablespoon live-culture buttermilk to 1 cup heavy cream slightly warmed to 80 degrees. Let stand until thickened (usually 6 to 12 hours) at warm room temperature, refrigerate until very thick. It’s complexly delicious and nutty-tangy and much less expensive than a tub of crème fraîche. But it will quickly melt into a puddle when you spoon it on anything warm. To avoid the quick melt, you can make your crème fraîche with the sour cream alternative: Mix equal parts of very good quality sour cream and heavy cream, let stand at warm room temperature until noticeably thicker (about 6 hours), then refrigerate for several hours until very thick. This version isn’t as nutty as crème fraîche, but it’s rich, tangy and substantial enough to stand up to warm foods.
All recipes are reprinted from Fiesta at Rick’s by Rick Bayless, copyright 2010 by Rick Bayless and Deann Groen Bayless. Used with permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
Photographs by Paul Elledge.