Vegetable Ricotta Enchiladas: A little Mexican, a little Italian, a lot Californian!

I have an ongoing love affair with ricotta cheese, and one day when I realized a tub in my fridge was on its way out, I thought fast on the best way to combine my current cravings for a Mexican-style dinner with ricotta and the first idea that came into my head was enchiladas.

The filling is completely nontraditional, and is vaguely reminiscent of lasagne, but with a kick. You can buy pre-made enchilada sauce, or make your own.  The second time I made this was after I had gone home to my father’s house up in Sonoma County. His tomato patch was going crazy, and I made a giant batch of pico de gallo salsa for him. I used the leftovers I took home to blend up and used that for the sauce. Winning!


Ingredients (serves four):

    • 3 cloves minced garlic
    • 3 T olive oil
    • 1 cup chopped mushrooms (about 3 large white mushrooms)
    • 1 cup chopped fresh spinach (about ½ bunch)
    • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
    • 1 cup ricotta cheese
    • 1 cup grated cheese (preferably oaxaca but monteray jack or mozzarella work too) plus ¼ cup reserved
    • 1 egg
    • Vegetable oil as needed
    • 4 large (or 8 small corn tortillas)
    • 2 cups enchilada sauce (or blended salsa)
    • 2 cups beans
    • 2 cups cooked rice
    • 1 avocado
    • Salt and pepper as needed

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450F. Heat up skillet on stove to medium-high heat and add olive oil and garlic. Stir until garlic turns fragrant, and then add mushrooms first, and then spinach. Season with salt and pepper and remove from stove when spinach is wilted.
  2. Remove vegetables from pan and put into bowl. Wipe out pan. Add cheese, egg, cilantro, salt, pepper, and 2T of enchilada sauce to bowl and mix well.
  3. Heat up skillet again, pour small amount of vegetable oil into skillet and lightly fry each tortilla on each side, adding more oil as necessary. Tortillas should have an even but light coat of oil on each side, and still be pliable.
  4. Prepare casserole pan: spread a thin layer of sauce on bottom of pan. Divide cheese and vegetable mixture between tortillas and roll tortillas up around it. Place filled tortillas, rolled up side down in the pan, side by side. Cover with remainder of sauce and top with reserved grated cheese.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes or until sauce is bubbling on side. Finish off in broiler if desired to brown cheese on top. Divide beans, rice, and enchiladas on plates and top with avocado.



Final Notes:

Different vegetables can and should be substituted, depending on what is in season or needs to be eaten. I’ve done this with tofu, squash, and mushrooms and it was great as well. Oiling the tortillas ensures that they are easier to fold around the filling, and that they stay together during the cooking process. If you do not oil them (I’ve tried!) the tortillas either break when you bend them, and/or will soak up liquid during cooking and turn to mush, making serving individual portion difficult. Coconut oil would be a healthier solution than vegetable oil. Maybe I will try that next…

 



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