Vegetarian Chipotle Enchiladas Rojas

Makes 12 enchiladas with extra sauce.

These Tex-Mex inspired enchiladas are oven-baked and flavorful. Here we use ancho chile to color and enrich the tomato-based sauce and we add chipotle for its heat and smoke. If you prepare the sauce and filling ahead of time, you'll have an easy-to-make weeknight dinner.  

This recipe makes enough sauce for two batches and freezes well for up to a month. Be sure to try it with other fillings such as chopped, roasted or grilled vegetables, rice, or cheese, let your imagination run wild!

For the sauce:
1 large, dried ancho chile, stem and seeds removed
1 can (28 ounces) fire-roasted, diced canned tomatoes and juice
2 tablespoons roughly chopped garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika (or sweet paprika)
⅛ teaspoon ground cassia cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground chipotle chile
1 teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

For the filling:
¼ cup neutral oil, divided
½ medium onion cut in very thin slices
½ medium sweet potato, peeled and grated (about 1 cup)
½ cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 can (14 ounces) black beans, drained
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch dried oregano
Sea salt and black pepper

For assembling the enchiladas:
12 tortillas, corn or flour (6-inch)
1 cup grated melting cheese, such as Monterey Jack or Oaxaca
½ cup queso fresco, crumbled

For serving:
Cilantro leaves
Toasted pepitas

Make the sauce  Break the ancho chile into a few pieces. Put the pieces into a small bowl and pour 1 cup of boiling water over them. Let the chile soak for 15–20 minutes, drain.

Put the hydrated ancho and remaining sauce ingredients into the jar of a blender. Process, starting at the lowest speed and gradually increasing to high speed. Blend until smooth, then transfer to a saucepan.

Set the pan over medium-high heat and add 1 cup of water. Stir to combine and let the sauce come to a boil. Reduce the heat so that the sauce is simmering and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened slightly and become a darker color, 20–25 minutes.

Note: When assembling the enchiladas, the sauce should be a bit thinner than spaghetti sauce. If you make it ahead and it thickens while in the fridge, add a little water or broth to thin it before using.

Make the filling  Put 1 tablespoon of the oil into a large skillet set over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the onions and a pinch of salt. Cook until the onions are translucent with browned edges. Add the garlic, grated sweet potato, and 1 tablespoon of oil. Cook until the garlic is fragrant, and the potato has softened, 1-2 minutes. Stir in the corn kernels, transfer the mixture to a plate, and set aside.

Put the skillet back on the burner, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, and reduce the heat to medium. When the oil shimmers, add the beans, oregano, cumin, a good pinch of salt, and black pepper to taste. Warm the beans for a couple of minutes, then stir in 2 tablespoons of water. Mash some of the of the beans and cook for a minute or two longer. Stir in the onion mixture and turn off the heat.

Assemble and bake the enchiladas  Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spread 3/4 cup of the sauce over the bottom of a 9” x 13” casserole dish.

Wrap the tortillas in foil and warm in the oven to soften, 3–4 minutes. Put 2 cups of the sauce into a wide shallow bowl and stir in ⅓ cup water. Set a plate, the bowl of sauce, the bean filling, and the grated cheese near the casserole dish.

Put 1 tortilla on the plate. Brush both sides of the tortilla with sauce and put 2 tablespoons of the filling on its center. Sprinkle on a pinch of the grated cheese. Firmly but gently roll the tortilla around the filling and set it seam-side down at one end of the casserole. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, arranging them close together, down the length of the casserole dish.

Pour the sauce from the bowl over the enchiladas and sprinkle on the remaining grated cheese, followed by the crumbled queso fresco. Bake for 15–20 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese has melted.

Serve hot, garnished with pepitas and cilantro.


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