At least once a week (if you don’t count leftovers!) Larissa and I enjoy an awesome plate of vegetarian enchiladas! If you’ve listened to the show for a while, it’s no secret that Vickie’s favorite type of food is Mexican food. With her Mexican and Central American grandparents, she grew up eating some wonderful Latin food.
Luckily, Latin food is VERY adaptable to vegetarian (and vegan!) cuisine! Enchiladas are especially versatile because so many vegetables make delicious fillings and there are multiple options for sauces.
In this episode of the Vegetarian Zen podcast, we focus on preparing some awesome vegetarian enchiladas, all of which can be easily adapted to vegan if that’s your preference. No time to listen to the podcast? No worries! We’ve summed up what we discuss in the show notes below!
It all starts with the tortilla
Before we get into filling your enchiladas, let’s talk about tortillas. Good quality tortillas are essential for great enchiladas…it doesn’t matter how good the fillings and sauces are if your tortillas are bad.
Larissa and I like to use Food For Life Sprouted Corn Tortillas, which are:
- Yeast Free
- High in Fiber
- Contain Sprouted Grains (sprouting generally increases the availability of nutrients in grains and are makes them easier to digest)
There are obviously a lot more brands out there so, as with most foods, just be sure to take a look at the ingredients. Food for Life Sprouted Corn tortillas contain:
- Organic Sprouted Corn
- Filtered Water
- Sea Salt
Softening your tortillas
When it comes to softening the tortillas, we usually use heated oil to dip the tortilla in briefly on each side and then use a paper towel to pat down any excess oil.
If you don’t want to use oil, you can also steam the tortillas by wrapping them in a dampened paper towel and placing them in the microwave for a few seconds until they’re soft.
Another no-oil alternative is to heat them in a pan or comal for a few seconds on each side. This method might not work well, though, depending on the texture of the tortillas you are using.
Let’s get saucy!
Much like the tortillas, enchilada sauce is a critical component of good enchiladas. A bad sauce-and-filling combo is almost as bad as a poor wine pairing. When deciding on a sauce for your enchiladas, think about what will complement the filling you’re using.
Red or green sauce?
Yes, there IS a difference, and not just in color! Just like the wine analogy I used earlier, each sauce has a different flavor, so it’s great to understand how each can be used to elevate the flavor of your enchilada dish!
Red enchilada sauce is red because it’s made from red chilies, onions, garlic, and other seasonings (depending on the recipe). It tends to taste more “tomatoey” and “heavier” than green sauce. It’s typically used for beef and cheese enchiladas in traditional Mexican cuisine.
Green sauce (salsa verde) is green because it’s made with, you guessed it, green chiles! Some can also contain tomatillos, a very common ingredient in Mexican recipes. It tends to taste a bit “lighter” than red sauce (not as bold) and is used frequently for chicken dishes.
The spice factor of each depends on the spiciness of the chiles used. The label of off-the-shelf sauces will typically let you know if it’s considered spicy, or “hot”.
There are some pretty good store-bought shelf sauces out there. We buy Hatch Tex Mex Enchilada Sauce (a red sauce) which goes well with one of our favorite enchilada combinations — mushroom and spinach.
Mushrooms often replace beef in vegetarian and vegan dishes, so red sauce is a great compliment to the mushrooms.
While many off-the-shelf enchilada sauces are vegan, some do contain meat or animal byproducts (like beef broth) so be sure to check that label!
Here is a great article on the Thrive Cuisine website with eight vegan enchilada sauces for you to check out.
The filling station
Now it’s time to talk about those yummy fillings! The possibilities are TRULY endless, so we’ll give you a few to get you started.
A Vegetarian Zen favorite! This comes from our website. Since Larissa is really picky about veggies, this is a simple way to get in some added nutrients without a lot of extra “stuff.”
This recipe comes from the plant-based meal kit service The Purple Carrot. Since this recipe is vegan, it calls for Daiya cheese; if you aren’t into vegan cheese, you can add whatever cheese you like or leave it out altogether.
I found this recipe on the Tofurkey website. The recipe is vegan but again, if you aren’t into vegan cheese, you can either leave the cheese out altogether or use regular cheese.
We like this recipe from Cookie and Kate. It’s vegetarian but has some notes added on how to prepare it vegan and/or gluten-free. Kate uses a salsa verde (green sauce) in this recipe, and it’s a perfect example of filling and sauce working well together!
This vegetable enchilada recipe comes from our site! We eat these vegetable enchiladas on a regular basis and they taste good as leftovers also!
We hope this has given you some great ideas and inspiration for creating your own awesome enchiladas!
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