If there is one dish that differs tremendously in the way it’s made between Mexico and the United States, it has to be enchiladas. The recipes even vary greatly between states in both Mexico and the U.S. Anyone born in Mexico will tell you, however, that, “real enchiladas aren’t rolled, placed in a pan and drown in canned sauce and yellow cheese.” Folks born in the states who grew up eating baked enchiladas will certainly disagree. For our Meatless Monday entry this week, our untraditional enchiladas are prepared in the style of Central Western Mexico, because we prepared homemade guajillo chile salsa, and then we dipped the wrappers in the thick and bubbling sauce that’s been warmed in a large skillet.
Tradition ends there, though, as these healthy rolled wraps are not made with corn tortillas, and they aren’t filled with beef, chicken or melted cheese. Try them, and choose which combination of fillings is your favorite. For the wrapper, choose lavash, naan or any wrap you prefer if you can tolerate wheat. For gluten-free options, try any large gluten-free tortilla. Food for Life makes a rice tortilla I like, but there are many varieties available. Rudi’s makes a whole line of gluten-free tortillas, and the spinach variety are tasty, but small in circumference.
If you aren’t into making your own enchilada sauce from scratch, Kroger carries an all-natural Guajillo sauce in a jar. If you prefer to use New Mexico chiles instead, that’s fine. Any dried red chile, or combination of them, will work to make a salsa de chile colorado. I must admit that making red chile sauces proved confusing for me at first, mostly because all it takes is one wrong move and the sauce will turn bitter. Once, I tried to follow a Rick Bayless recipe, and it became so confusing that I had to throw the whole mess away (and it was a mess!) Of course, I’m sure his recipe was awesome, but my ability to follow it well was what was lacking.
As far as the fillings, this will be less of a recipe and more of suggestions for what might work well inside.
GUAJILLO CHILE SAUCE
Salsa de Chile Guajillo
(Makes about 4 cups)
12 guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
8 roma tomatoes
3-4 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 white or sweet onion, quartered
1 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp pink Himalayan or sea salt, or to taste
1 tbsp. grape seed or olive oil
1 tsp. grated piloncillo or organic turbinado sugar
Please read above in the body of the text.
chopped white onion
crumbled queso fresco
dried Mexican oregano
1. Boil 6 – 8 cups of water in a large pot. Once the water boils, turn off the flame.
2. Toast the guajillo chiles for about 15 -20 seconds per side on top of a preheated skillet or comal set over medium low heat. Be careful not to let them overcook or they will taste bitter. This is definitely a time when less is more. Remove them from the skillet or comal and place the toasted chiles in the reheated water for ten minutes, where they will rehydrate.
3. Roast the tomatoes, onion quarters and unpeeled garlic on the hot comal or skillet, and toast them on each side until they are slightly blackened.
4. Add the tomatoes, onion and garlic to the pot of hot water.
5. Place the chiles, tomatoes, onion and garlic in the blender with about ½ cup of the cooking liquid, the oregano, cumin and salt. Puree until smooth. Strain the sauce into a glass bowl through a large sieve. Push down with a large cooking spoon on top of the ingredients in the sieve to make sure you get all of the chile to go through the mesh and into the bowl.
6. Heat oil in a sauce pan set over medium high heat. Once hot, pour in the sauce carefully because it may splatter, and simmer for about 12 to 15 minutes. During cooking, the sauce will thicken and the seasonings will blend to form the true flavor of the salsa. Taste the sauce and add more salt if needed.
7. Once cool, the sauce may be refrigerated for a couple weeks in a glass container. Placing it in plastic will mean that the container used will have a red stain forever.
Baby spinach and sweet onion, thinly sliced
Thin asparagus, sweet onion and red pepper strips
Leaf spinach and sliced mushrooms
Fajita vegetables: red, green, orange and yellow bell peppers, sliced onions and tomatoes
Mesclun salad mix, thin sliced cucumbers (sliced the long way on a mandoline slicer) and thin sliced carrots
Zucchini and yellow crookneck squash strips with organic corn kernels and red onion strips
Add your own favorite raw vegetable combination
Pour enough guajillo chile sauce into a skillet to stand 1″ deep. Warm over medium heat. Submerge the wrap you have chosen in the warm sauce. Working quickly, about 1/3rd of the way from one end of the wrapper, place a strip of vegetables that reaches across the wrap, stopping about 1/2 inch from each end. Using cooking spoons or spatulas, pick up the end of the wrap where the vegetables are and begin rolling it as tightly as possible. This may take some practice. Don’t get frustrated if it’s difficult at first. Instead, allow yourself one as a practice wrap and keep working with it until you get it right. Once rolled, place the enchilada wrap in a plate. They are large, so one may be enough for a serving. Depending on which wrapper you use, the enchilada may be long. For better presentation, slice it into 3rds and arrange on the plate. Top the wrap with chopped onion, chopped cilantro, dried Mexican oregano and crumbled queso fresco.
Enjoy this almost raw vegetarian meal.
Note: Some people like to use meat broth to soak the chiles in. Since this is a vegetarian recipe, you could use organic vegetable stock to rehydrate the chile.