Monday, April 02, 2007

Jihva for Tomatoes, or Tomatillos

Tomatoes, tomater, taameta, tomate; whatever word you use to call these fruits, you know when I say they're the most delightful things for any kind of cooking. They're so versatile, they can be added to any recipe for an enhanced taste. When I read that RP was hosting JFI blogging event and tomatoes were her pick for the month; I jumped at the opportunity to make a tomato-based dish. I went to a favorite grocer that sells a variety of vegetables and fruits including bittermelon, Indian eggplant, Japanese eggplant, lemongrass, fresh okra, plantains and a billion types of hot sauces. Products that would otherwise be oust from a typical store because they're international. boohoo. I bought fresh tomatillos to make a mexican favorite, enchilada verde. I made enchilada sauce using tomatillo salsa and the filling with spinach, black bean and cheese.
I came across a filling recipe by Sher at What did you eat She made a delicious spinach & kale enchilada filling that inspired me to try my hand at vegetarian enchiladas. I used black beans in place of mushrooms and kale and it still turned out great. Next time I'll even go as far as making the tequila sauce, if time permits.

Enchilada Verde

For the sauce:
4 tomatillos
2 garlic cloves
2 serrano peppers (2 made it spicy, just the way I like it; add according to your taste)
1 medium onion
teaspoon of cumin seeds

Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Roast the vegetables and whole cumin in a baking dish for 14 minutes. When finished, let cool. Add some water to the blender along with the roasted ingredients and blend into a smooth sauce. Add salt and blend again.

For the filling:
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 16 oz can of black beans, washed and drained
16 oz frozen spinach (defrosted and squeezed dry) or 1.5 lbs of fresh spinach, washed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teapsoon of red chile powder
1 tablespoon of flour
1/2 cup milk1 cup Cheese- Monterey Jack, Cheddar, Smoked Cheddar, Queso Fresco (anything that tickles your fancy
Salt & Pepper

Heat oil in a non stick pan. Add garlic and onions and saute until onions are translucent and garlic is cooked. Sprinkle some salt & pepper. Add black beans and cook for 4-6 minutes. Then add spinach and cook until wilted. Add ground cumin, coriander, red chile powder and more salt & pepper to flavor the beans and the greens. Add flour and stir until thoroughly mixed. Cook the flour for 3- 5 minutes or until it starts to smell nutty. Whisk in the milk slowly to keep from lumping. Add 1/4 cup of tomatillo salsa and cook until liquid is evaporated. Remove from heat, add the cheese, and stir. Let the filling cool.

To make the Enchiladas:
8 corn, flour or wheat tortillas
Spinach and Black bean filling
Tomatillo salsa
Fill each tortilla with the filling, roll and lay in a rectangular baking dish. Repeat this with the other 7 tortillas.

Pour tomatillo salsa over the enchiladas and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Sprinkle rest of the cheese over the enchiladas and bake for 5 more minutes. When ready, the cheese should be bubbling on top.

The tomatillo salsa was unusual from the typical red enchilada sauce and added great flavor to the enchiladas. I made this when MG & EB were over for dinner; it was a big hit with the vegetarian guest. I'll certainly make it again.