Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Dinner for all Seasons

Keeping with the theme of the in between season for Friday night dinner this week I decided on a dish that always hits the spot no matter what season it is, enchiladas. As a youngster one of my favorite dinners to make with friends were enchiladas. Warmed corn tortillas dipped in sauce and stuffed with shredded cheeses, simple and scrumptious. Years later they are still one of my favorite Mexican dishes to make and in addition to my old cheesy favorite are even more delish when stuffed with a number of different veggies, legumes and spices. In the summer months you can cram them full of fresh, colorful veggies and in the winter they are equally delish when filled with sautéed greens, roasted squash or beans. Topped off with a spicy sauce and sprinkled with savory cheese enchiladas are a delicious dinner choice whether its winter, spring, summer or fall.

For Friday’s batch of enchiladas I decided on a combination of ingredients that embrace the deliciousness of both summer and fall, a mishmash of fresh veggies and frozen and topped off with a light cheese as to not distract from all the distinctly delicious flavors of the veggies.

Enchiladas de Jardin
Serves 5 or 6

Enchilada Sauce Ingredients

Making sauce from scratch is a fun and easy way to tweak the flavor of your sauce to your tastbuds delight. If sauce making is not your thing you can easily use your favorite canned sauce instead.

2 14 oz cans diced or crushed tomatoes
½ cup salsa (as spicy or mild as you like)
1 can green chilies or 3 or 4 home roasted chilies of your choice (The hotter the better in my opinion!)
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon chili powder
Dash of cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processer and blend until all the ingredients turn into a smooth and saucy consistency.

Enchilada Filling Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 10 oz. packages frozen spinach, thawed
1 zucchini, cut into bite sized slices
1 red bell pepper, cut into bite sized pieces
1 tablespoon garlic, minced (about 4 or 5 cloves)
1 15 oz. can white beans, drained and rinsed
½ teaspoon oregano
Dash of nutmeg
Dash of cinnamon
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled (fat free, reduced fat or full fat)

Wrap the spinach in a towel to remove as much of the moisture as possible and then set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the garlic for a minute or two. Add the spinach, zucchini and bell pepper and cook for 7 or 8 minutes or until the zucchini has softened.

Add to this the white beans and then season with oregano, nutmeg, cinnamon, sea salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and then mix in the feta and stir until combined.

Putting it all Together

12 corn tortillas
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
Prepared enchilada sauce (recipe above)

First thing first, preheat the oven to 350 and then gather up the sauce, filling and other ingredients needed to prepare the enchiladas.

Cover the bottom of a large rectangular baking dish with some of the enchilada sauce and set aside close by to where you will be assembling the enchiladas. You will also need a second dish such as a pie tin or a large shallow bowl to prepare the enchiladas in. Pour about ½ cup of the enchilada sauce into this dish and set aside as well.

To get started with the assembly you first need to warm your tortillas a bit. This can be done using a microwave or by using a pot of boiling water and one of those spiffy steaming screens that look like a cross between a badminton racket and fly swatter.

Once you have a warmed tortilla place it immediately into the saucy preparation dish, flipping the tortilla over twice to coat both sides with the sauce. Dollop about 2 or 3 tablespoons of the scrumptious filling into the tortilla, roll it up, and then place in into the prepared baking dish.

Repeat this process until all the filling has been used or you run out of room in your baking dish. Pour an ample amount of the sauce atop the enchiladas and sprinkle with feta.

Cook for about 20 minutes.

We enjoyed our enchiladas with some homemade guacamole and steamed frozen sweet corn seasoned with Tapatio sauce.

We also opened a bottle of one of my favorite wines, Happy Canyon, Chucker 07 Bordeaux Blend. This was my first full bottle of Chucker, previously I have raved about it after ordering it during my last few visits to the Linkery for dinner. Since I fist tasted it months ago I have had an eye out for it every time I visited a wine bar or shop until finally it was discovered at Wine Steals in Hillcrest. At $14.99 a bottle this robust red is bursting with rich berry flavors and pairs perfectly with everything from savory cheeses to spicy Mexican food.

Speaking of Wine Steals this weekend I will be heading to the Point Loma location for an evening of wine and cheese so be sure to check back next week for a full review of all of their delicious gluten free offerings.

No comments: