Though I don’t think I’ve ever told her, my friend G’s cooking has been hugely inspirational to me. In college, G lived in a communal-type household. Everyone there agreed to live intentionally, cooking meals together and living their lives in a more harmonious way. They were a big bunch of friendly hippies and I just loved spending time there. Most of them were vegetarians, meaning that if I ate with them there wouldn’t be any meat products on the menu. The meals never suffered from this.
When I watched G cook, I saw her put together ingredients differently than I was used to. Meat couldn’t be the main event in her kitchen, so vegetables were used more centrally and more heartily. More than anything, G used what she had on hand to make delicious meals instead of constantly shopping. In my now much busier life (no more singing along to guitars by the fire pit in the front yard for me), this is central to how I cook. I plan my weekly meals around the produce that is in season and that I've gotten in my CSA box rather than shopping for whatever I happen to want that moment. My grocery bills have gone down and my meals have become more varied and delicious because of this.
One of my favorite things G ever made for me was a simple taco full of veggies and some rice and beans we had leftover from dinner. I had never tasted anything better than this quickie taco made of bits and pieces from the fridge. It was fast, it was cheap, it hit the spot and filled my tummy. Granted, it was 3 o’clock in the morning when we ate the tacos. And granted, our night had been spent dancing so we were starving at the time. But still! The food memory stands and I asked for those tacos again and again!
These enchiladas are my version of those late night tacos. I made them with potatoes and chard and mushrooms, but they could just as tastily be made with some leftover diced squash or roasted cauliflower, or anything else you have on hand. The important thing is to add lots of onions (for a delicious savory-sweet bomb) and make sure you have some sort of protein in there to help you stay full.
Also, if you’re able to slice up some avocados from the tree in your front yard and eat this beside a fire pit with good friends - well that will only add to their charm.
2 cups cubed potatoes
1 diced onion
1 bunch swiss chard (or other green), ribs cut out and sliced into ribbons
1 cup mushrooms (diced if they are large)
1 clove minced garlic
1 cup enchilada sauce
4 corn tortillas
1/2 cup black beans
1/2 cup shredded cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt & pepper
Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Sautee the onions, potatoes and mushrooms with the chile powder, paprika and cumin until tender - after the first 10 minutes you can cover the pan to make this go faster. Just stir it every so often so it doesn’t burn. Near the end of cooking, add the garlic and chard and wilt it down with the rest of the vegetables. Salt and pepper this all to taste. Set aside to cool.
(At this point, if you have too much filling and want to put some in the fridge for another time...this filling makes an amazing hash with some baked eggs on top. Yum.)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put a few spoonfuls on the enchilada sauce in an 8x8 square baking dish and spread it over the bottom. Mash the black beans coarsely - if you’re feeling fancy, season the beans with a little cumin and chipotle powder. Preheat your tortillas so they are pliable - I wrap them loosely in paper towels and microwave them for 40 seconds to accomplish this. In each tortilla, put a layer of the mashed beans, the vegetable filling, and a healthy dollop of salsa (the filling dries out without this). Wrap the tortilla around the filling like a tube and put it in the pan, seam side down. Repeat with all 4 tortillas.
Smother all of the wraps with the rest of the enchilada sauce - get it as saucy as you like, but make sure everything is covered by at least some sauce so it doesn’t dry out. Sprinkle the top with the shredded cheese. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and melted. Serve with sliced avocados or sour cream.