Meatless Monday – Potato Enchilada Pie

Hello from my kitchen!

In the end-of-school-year craziness, I haven’t been cooking as much. Way more take-out than usual, which is fine and tasty and fun but not as budget- or waistline-friendly, though, as always, lots and lots and lots of grace for whatever season we (you!) are in.

Last week, however, I found a few pockets of time to make special food to make that last school week, well, special. I made fruit tarts, one with apples and another with nectarines, both topped with peach jam infused with lemon zest and juice and fresh chopped ginger… Oh my! I made banana muffins. I made pancakes with berry sauce. Hmm, it sure looks like my go-to treats are breakfast-snacky, and carb-y, huh? They’re also all long gone.

Yesterday, I got back to dinner. To make a big pot of enchilada sauce (find the recipe here) I first mixed up a batch of chili powder from the spices in my drawer! I’ve regularly had a store-bought blend but had run out. So I googled it, and as it turns out, chili powder consists of more than just ground chilis: cumin, garlic and onion powder, paprika, oregano. Honestly, I’d rather use the spices I already buy to create blends than buy pre-made versions. That way I’ll use up my spices within their best-taste window and have fresher, tastier blends. Another time I might try a recipe that starts with dried chilis, but for now this was easy.

Once the enchilada sauce was simmering, I got to work on Potato Enchilada Pie. The origin for this recipe came from Forks Over Knives. Living in California, we eat a lot of Mexican food. Before I leaned plant-based, I regularly made enchiladas, but even when I loaded them up with veggies they still contained cheese. Without resorting to soy-cheese I despaired of finding a recipe as satisfying. This one does the trick!

I’ve modified the recipe to make it easier and to add black beans. You could also add other veggies, like corn or bell peppers, but in this case I think simple might be best.

Easy Chili Powder Blend

4 Tbsp paprika
4 tsp oregano
2 1/2 tsp cumin
2 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper

Add all spices to a small bowl and mix them. Store in a clean and dried spice bottle for up to six months.

Potato Enchilada Pie
Serves 6

3-4 large potatoes, cut into 1″ chunks
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely diced
1 tsp chili powder
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 c fresh spinach, chopped
1 recipe Enchilada Sauce
3 whole wheat tortillas
garnish: cilantro, green onions, diced avocado (optional)

Boil the potatoes for 5-7 minutes until almost fork-tender.

In a large pan, saute onions for three minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and saute for two more minutes. Add jalapenos and cook for one minute. Add chili powder, beans, and cooked potatoes and mix well. Add spinach and cook for one minute.

Preheat oven to 350. Add sauce to bottom of a pie pan to cover. Top with one tortilla; cover with half the filling. Drizzle with more sauce. Repeat layers: tortilla, filling, sauce, tortilla, and sauce to cover. Bake for 25 minutes. Dress with desired garnishes and slice into wedges.

One of the reasons I love making this recipe is that I have multiple dinners built in: I will use the extra enchilada sauce later in the week to make another of our favorites: Tofu Chilaquiles.

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Meatless Monday – Tofu Chilaquiles

I first heard about chilaquiles when Teen took a middle school Foods class. His motivation to eat good food drives him into the kitchen to make it himself, which is where I found him one afternoon, frying chips and scrambling eggs. He topped oily-soggy chips with eggs and dumped green salsa over the whole thing – tasty if wet, and needed improvement.

My sister and Tween have a breakfast date now and again, and one time she brought home some leftover chilaquiles. Tween refuses eggs unless he’s with Sister and even then he won’t eat much. These tasted much better, and included enchilada sauce along with green salsa.

Enchilada sauce makes food yummy, but I’m not eating eggs these days so I decided to try a different take: tofu chilaquiles. You could use prepared enchilada sauce, but this sauce is easy and delish. It used to drive me nuts that I always had sauce leftover but not enough to make more enchiladas – now I have a perfect use for leftover sauce. You could use prepared tortilla chips, but if you have tortillas in the fridge, it takes very little effort to bake your own (true confession: I ate prepared chips with the leftovers). And I love to make salsa, but I have not mastered the art of making green salsa. Besides, Trader Joe’s green salsa makes me happy!

Enchilada Sauce

3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp flour
2 heaping Tbsp chili powder
2 c veggie stock
10 oz tomato sauce
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt

In a medium saucepan heat oil, add flour, smoothing and stirring with a wooden spoon. Cook for 1 minute. Add chili powder and cook for 30 seconds. Add stock, tomato sauce, oregano, and cumin. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. Adjust seasonings.

chipsTortilla Chips

Stack 6-8 tortillas (I prefer corn but use what you’ve got) and cut in half; stack halves and cut in half again. Arrange on a baking tray and sprinkle with lime juice and salt or no-salt herb mix (optional, and I skip if chips are going in a recipe). Bake at 400 for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned and crispy.

Tofu Chilaquiles
Serves 4-6
[the inspiration for the tofu portion of this recipe came from Happy Herbivore]

1 pound extra-firm tofu
1 white or yellow onion, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
12 oz salsa verde
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 c fresh or frozen corn, cooked
To serve: enchilada sauce and chips

Press tofu: drain package water, wrap tofu block in several layers of paper towels, place on a plate with another weighted plate on top. Let drain while you dice onion and drain beans.

Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add onion, garlic and spices and cook until onions are translucent, about 4 minutes. Add tofu and salsa verde and break the tofu into pieces (I used a potato masher). Continue to cook, stirring every so often, until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Add beans and corn, reduce to medium heat, and simmer until warmed through.

To serve, put corn chips in individual bowls and top with warm enchilada sauce. Spoon chilaquiles on top of chips. Serve with extra chips and hot sauce on the table.chilaquiles cookingchips-saucechilaquiles

Meatless Monday – Taco Tuesday

Teen declared this the greenest avocado he's ever seen

Teen declared this the greenest avocado he’s ever seen

Vegetarian + Californian = we ❤ Mexican food!

Rice and beans, baby! We’re all over ’em. Toss in some onions, tomatoes, cilantro, shredded lettuce, colorful bell peppers – veggie goodness abounding. So versatile, so delicious.

And like most busy families, we need quick meals. To quote Rachael Ray, 30 Minute Meals.

Or, how about 20 minutes? Or less?

Tuesday is a long day for our family. We might all be home for two hours (or less) between school and activities before several of us scatter again. So dinner has to be fast, though I won’t sacrifice the health- or yum-factors.

Enter the most versatile meal in our repetoire. At its essence, bean dip, but it can be burritos, tacos, enchiladas, nachos – you choose (at our table, we often have some of everything, depending on who’s in the mood for what; as Tween says, “Style your own meal!”). And just for fun, let’s have it on our busiest day of the week and name it Taco Tuesday.

Basic Bean Dip
1 can veggie refried beans (we like Trader Joe’s refried black beans)
1/3 c green salsa (or your favorite salsa – to taste)
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 c cooked brown rice

In a large saucepan, warm refried beans. As they begin to soften, stir in salsa. Add whole beans and rice and warm through. It’s that easy!

The brown rice is the only thing to slow this meal down. I use Trader Joe’s brown basmati rice, which cooks uncovered in 20 minutes. It smells like popcorn (perk!) and needs no tending, so I will often cook up a quick pot (1 c uncooked rice to 2 c boiling water + 20 minutes on medium-high heat) while I’m doing something else – kitchen clean up or homework help.

Meal suggestions:
*Burritos might be our most-often use for this dip. Warm up some whole wheat tortillas, shred lettuce or cabbage, chop tomatoes, and the kids like to add cheese.
*I have been known to spoon this gooey-goodness on to a bowlful of shredded lettuce for a taco salad. Add any other veggies you like + salsa as salad dressing.
*If you have taco shells or tortilla chips on hand, you can use all the same ingredients to make tacos or nachos.
*Spread dip on warm corn tortillas to add a little more veggie-power to fish tacos.
*Yesterday I put the warm dip in a casserole dish topped with chopped veggies – avocado, tomatoes, green onions, olives, cilantro – and we had a tasty vegan version of 7-layer dip for our Superbowl party (although next time I might add some chopped jalapenos for kick).

Superbowl bean-veggie dip

Superbowl bean-veggie dip

Meatless Monday

From time to time friends looking to incorporate more veggies (especially kid-friendly veggies) ask me for recipes. So in honor of Meatless Mondays (a concept I love but live more fully than 1x/week) I have decided to post veggie recipes on Mondays.

Up this week: veggie enchiladas & red chili rice

Teen has been asking for enchiladas but some days are too full… this menu takes time as it has several steps. At least I make my own sauce and I make a hearty rice side dish. This time I also roasted veggies + made two pans of enchiladas: one with cheese and the other with refried black beans and roasted veggies (guess which one the kids preferred?). You could make the sauce ahead, but I didn’t have time yesterday. So I did it all today and it took just over an hour. Really, not bad.

Enchilada sauce (loosely based on Emeril):
3 Tbsp veggie or olive oil
1 Tbsp whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 c veggie stock
10 oz tomato sauce (you can use some or all tomato paste but I never seem to have it on hand when I want it.)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt

In a medium saucepan heat oil, add flour, and stir with a wooden spoon for 1 minute. Add chili powder and stir for 30 seconds. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cook for 15 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Roasted veggies: Sorry, no hard and fast recipe for this one. Get out your roasting pan. Start dicing veggies and tossing them on the pan until you’ve got a full, but not too full, pan. I used 1/2 red onion, 1 small head of broccoli, summer squash, and zucchini, all chunked smaller than if they would be served on their own but not so small that they burned. Just try to cut them to comparable size so they cook at the same speed. Lightly toss with olive oil and sprinkle with a) salt and pepper or b) garlic powder and red chili flakes. Roast at 450 for 20-30 minutes, tossing occasionally, until veggies begin to brown.

Red chili rice (based on Coyote Cafe):
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 c onion, minced
2 c brown rice
2 c veggie stock
3 c water
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cumin
1.5 tsp salt
1/3 c chili powder
1 c fresh or frozen corn kernels (optional)
1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained (optional)
4 Tbsp fresh chopped cilantro (optional)

In a large pan, heat oil and then saute garlic and onion for 6-8 minutes. Add rice and saute 1-2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients (minus optional ingredients), bring to a boil, and cook for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 20-25 minutes until liquid has evaporated. If using optional ingredients, stir in just before done so they will heat up with the rice.

Enchilada assembly:
I usually make enchiladas as a casserole, layering ingredients. If you’re an enchilada purist, by all means warm up your tortillas and individually fill each one.

Additional ingredients:
Tortillas (I used corn tortillas for cheese enchiladas and whole wheat tortillas for bean/veggie enchiladas but you can use whatever floats your boat)
Shredded cheese
Refried beans (I used refried black beans, but another type could work just as well)
Green onions, chopped

Lightly oil the bottom and sides of a pyrex dish. Layer sauce, tortillas, and cheese for cheese enchiladas (repeat as needed). Layer sauce, tortillas, refried beans (heating them slightly makes them easier to spread), and roasted veggies for bean/veggie enchiladas. Coat top layer of tortillas with sauce and sprinkle green onions. Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes until warmed through.

Another option: skip roasting the veggies. Chop a whole mess’a veggies – zucchini, squash, onion, bell peppers, black olives, whatever suits your fancy, plus a can of black or pinto beans or both, drained and rinsed. If you eat cheese, toss some shredded cheese with the veggies and add to enchilada layers. If you’re off cheese, refried beans add that yummy gooey texture that you crave in an enchilada.

Yet more options: Roast the veggies anyway but serve on the side. Add a little enchilada sauce to the red chili rice.

Tween tells me the rice was really, really good. He’s asking for it in his lunch tomorrow. He will eat roasted broccoli like candy, but wasn’t a huge fan of it in the enchiladas. I thought it added a delicious new flavor layer. But you know your family best, and there should be enough options here to suit most everyone.