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Squash and Pepper Enchiladas

August 10, 2009

Squash and Pepper Enchiladas

I knew I had found my Walla Walla grocery store when I stumbled upon the Mexican food aisle in the Super 1 Foods. Queso Fresco, Mexican-style chorizo, Jarritos soda: I am definitely back on the West coast. I almost squealed aloud with glee when I spotted the nopales and chayote squash, and then again when I saw my favorite brand of refried beans, unavailable to me on the East coast (though now that I know they’re made by ConAgra, my affection is wearing thin).

I had been craving enchiladas for weeks. I have a pretty standard enchilada recipe that I usually swear by, but I thought perhaps this time I would try something different. And I am glad I did. These squash and pepper enchiladas might just supplant my stand-by chicken enchiladas in the roster of recipe favorites.

Chamoya Squash or Zucchini Tush?

The adorable chayote squash could not be ignored at the supermarket. I had never cooked with this vegetable before, and didn’t quite know what to expect, but I figured it would be similar to zucchini or crookneck squash. And I just kept wanting to call it a zucchini tush. As it turns out, it’s much firmer and more crunchy than a zucchini, which added excellent texture to the enchiladas.

Queso Fresco

Since I was switching it up, I decided to really switch it up, and use green instead of red enchilada sauce. Someday I will find it within myself to make my own enchilada sauce, but this time I bought a can of La Victoria and called it a day. I was worried the green would be too mild, but it was just right for the squash: not too overpowering, and a little bit brighter in flavor than heavy red.

I realized when I got home that I don’t have a rectangular baking dish. I don’t have any baking dishes save a pie pan, so instead of rolling the tortillas around the filling, I layered them like lasagna, and cut the finished dish into slices like a pie. And I kind of liked it like that: Assembly was much faster and less messy, and the ratio of tortilla to filling was not too many. Maybe I don’t even need a rectangular baking dish.

Squash Enchilada filling

Squash and Pepper Enchiladas

  • 1 T. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. annatto (This isn’t necessary if you can’t find it. It just adds a little depth to the flavor.)
  • 1/2 onion, sliced into strips
  • 1 jalapeno, de-seeded and minced
  • 2 green peppers, de-seeded and cut into 1-inch strips
  • 1 red pepper, de-seeded and cut into 1-inch strips
  • 1 chayote squash, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 tsp. chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 T. chopped epazote (if you can find it)
  • salt to taste
  • 1 20-ounch can green enchilada sauce
  • about 9 corn tortillas
  • 1 14-ounce can of refried beans, warmed
  • 1/2 c. queso fresco
  • 1/4 c. cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350F. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the annatto and saute for about a minute, until the oil becomes nice and orange-y red. Then strain the oil to remove the annatto and return the oil to the pan.

Add the sliced onion and saute for about a minute, then add the jalapeno. Stir in the peppers and squash, and then the spices and epazote, making sure everything is evenly coated. Saute the vegetables, stirring only occasionally, for about five minutes, then cover the skillet and let cook another three or four minutes to lightly steam the vegetables.

Squash and Pepper Enchiladas

Pour a thin layer of enchilada sauce into the bottom of the dish, and layer three tortillas, overlapping. You want to slide them around in the enchilada sauce a bit so they are well coated. Then smear on a layer of refried beans, add a layer of the squash mixture, and dot with queso fresco. Then add another layer of tortillas (dipped in enchilada sauce first), beans, squash mixture, and cheese. My pan fit two layers of squash, and one final tortilla layer. Finish the dish off by pouring over more enchilada sauce and topping with the rest of the queso and the cheddar.

Squash and Pepper Enchiladas

Bake the enchiladas for about 30 minutes at 350F. Let it sit for at least five or ten minutes before cutting into it to serve. These were so tasty I didn’t even get tired of eating them all week, which is pretty much inevitable if you cook a pan of enchiladas and you live alone. I will definitely be making these again. And I’ve been back to the Super 1 Foods at least twice.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Mom permalink
    August 11, 2009 9:13 pm

    Yum. Enchilada Pie, with verde sauce. One of my favorites. Never thought of making vegetarian.

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