Vegetarian Enchiladas

In our quest for new vegetarian main dishes, my creativity is being pushed into high gear. Very frequently I turn to Alissa Segersten’s two cookbooks, The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. Every recipe I’ve tried has been delicious. A plus for me is that the recipes are gluten-free, dairy-free, and some are also egg-free. (If you have a chance to peruse her cookbooks through the library, I’d strongly suggest you do. There are plenty of non-vegetarian recipes in there as well.)

Last night I tried my hand at making vegetarian enchiladas from Nourishing Meals. I did make several changes to the recipe, but the essence of it doesn’t belong to me. I love enchiladas and these were delicious! The made-from-scratch enchilada sauce is incredibly tasty and not too labor intensive. While topping them with cheese would be amazing, we just went the route of guacamole (my husband is sensitive to dairy, so we in general avoid it).

Vegetarian Enchiladas

(adapted from Nourishing Meals by Alissa Segersten)
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2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped
1 small bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 Tbsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 c. water
2 c. tomato sauce or diced tomatoes
1/4 c. arrowroot powder or cornstarch

12 to 16 corn tortillas (I used only 12)
2 c. cooked mashed sweet potatoes (feel free to spice these with your favorite Mexican spices)
3 c. cooked black beans
2 c. baby spinach leaves

Guacamole for topping

Preheat oven to 400° F. Grease 9 x 13 glass baking dish.

To make the enchilada sauce, heat a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil, onion, jalapeno, and bell pepper; saute for 7 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic, spices, and salt; saute a few minutes more. Then add the water and tomato sauce or diced tomatoes. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. Pour sauce into a blender, add arrowroot power or cornstarch; blend until smooth.

To make the enchiladas, first be sure to heat up each tortilla so they are pliable for filling and rolling. Lightly grease a hot skillet; heat each tortilla for about 10 seconds on each side. You can fill one enchilada while the next tortilla is heating. Add a few small spoonfuls of mashed sweet potato, then beans, and finally a small handful of spinach leaves. Roll tightly and place the filled tortilla seam-side down in the greased baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas, pushing the filled enchiladas closely together. Once the pan is filled, top with the sauce. Cover and bake for 30-35 minutes. Garnish with guacamole.

Black Beans and Rice with Fresh Apple Salsa

I love black beans and was excited to find this recipe in the most recent Bon Appetit magazine, which takes the humble bean and ups the ante with a fresh apple salsa. The original recipe called for topping the dish with shredded chicken, but I wanted a vegetarian dish. This was full of flavor and I didn’t miss the meat. Plus this is a cinch to throw together, so you can enjoy this healthful, seasonal, naturally gluten-free, vegetarian meal on a busy weeknight.

(slightly adapted from Bon Appetit, January 2012)
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1 c. chopped apple (I used Fuji because that’s what I had on hand, though Granny Smith was the original suggestion)
1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro, divided
1/3 c. finely chopped red onion, divided
1 1/2 tsp lime juice
1/2 c. finely chopped bell pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
dash of red pepper flakes
3 c. chicken broth or water
2 15 oz. cans black beans, rinsed and drained
4 c. cooked brown rice

For the salsa: combine apple, 1/4 cup cilantro, 2 Tbsp onion, and lime juice in a small bowl. Toss to coat. Set aside.

Combine remaining onion, bell pepper, and oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until completely softened, 6-7 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and red pepper flakes; stir constantly for 2 minutes. Stir in broth or water and beans; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer briskly, mashing about half the beans with a potato masher or the back of a spoon, until sauce is thickened, 8-1o minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

On plates layer rice, beans, and apple salsa. Top each with cilantro and serve with lime wedges.

Vegetarian: Black Bean Enchiladas

Mexican food nearly always sounds good to me. I found this recipe while blog-hopping. It’s quite easy, and while I baked them, this recipe also works in the crock-pot. I pumped up the veggies in the recipe, because I like to do that. We both enjoyed this new (for us) take on Mexican.

These enchiladas are vegetarian, but you can easily add some leftover cooked meat to the filling.

(slightly adapted from The Kitchn)
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Serves 4-6

1/2 yellow onion, diced small
1 bell pepper, diced small
1 tomato, diced small
Big handful of fresh spinach, thinly shredded
1 16-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups cheese, shredded and divided – we like monterey jack
2 16-ounce jars of your favorite salsa
12 6”-8” tortillas, flour or corn (use corn tortillas for gluten-free enchiladas)
Optional: 1 cup leftover meat – chicken, pork, hamburger, or shredded beef

In a medium bowl, mix together the onion, pepper, tomato, spinach, black beans, corn, spices, meat (if using), and 1/2 cup of the cheese. Pour about a cup of salsa (half a jar) into the bottom of the slow cooker and spread it around evenly.

Scoop about 1/3 cup filling into one of the tortillas, roll it up, and nestle it into the bottom of the crock pot. Repeat with the half of the remaining filling, rolling tortillas until the entire bottom of of the crock pot is filled. Spread another cup of salsa over this layer and sprinkle it with another 1/2 cup of cheese.

Continue with the remaining filling and tortillas to create a second layer. Top with another cup of salsa, but reserve the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese for later. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on HIGH for 2-4 hours. In the last 15 minutes of cooking, sprinkle the leftover cheese over the top and let it melt.

Serve the enchiladas with the remaining salsa. Leftovers will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.

Cook’s Note: To bake these enchiladas in the oven, layer the rolled tortillas in a 9×13 baking pan and cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with cheese, and bake uncovered for an additional 5-10 minutes.

Vegetarian: Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos

Apparently I’m really into tacos right now. I’ve collected several out-of-the-ordinary taco recipes to try. This vegetarian taco recipe came from a new cookbook, Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free by Amy Green. I was surprised by how many recipes I wanted to try from this cookbook. She had lots of easy, tasty sounding recipes.

These came together super fast and tasted super delicious (bonus, they’re also super cheap to make!). Even my husband who thinks most meals should include meat, thought these were good. The sweet potatoes add a sweet edge to the tacos, which cut the spicy a bit, although we do like spicy foods around here. I loved these topped with sliced or mashed avocado, salsa and cheese. These will definitely be working their way into regular menu rotation at our house.

(from Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free)
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1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced 1/4 inch
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 onion, diced
1 14.5-ounce can black beans, drained, liquid reserved
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2+ teaspoon chile powder
10 corn tortillas
salt and pepper

Optional topping ideas:
sour cream
shredded lettuce
shredded veggies

Preheat the oven to 200°F.

Place the sweet potato in a steamer basket with 1/2-inch of water in the pan. Cook for 10 minutes, or until cooked through but still al dente. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large nonstick saute pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook for 5-8 minutes, until soft. Add the beans, cumin, chile powder, and 1/4 cup of the reserved bean liquid. Mash some of the beans in the pan and add more liquid as  necessary.

Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and toast the tortillas until they’re warm and a little brown on each side. Wrap the tortillas in aluminum foil and keep warm in the oven.

When the sweet potatoes are cooked, add them to the beans and stir. Add more liquid if necessary. The taco filling shouldn’t be dry, but it shouldn’t be runny either. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Spoon the filling into the center of each tortilla. Top as desired.

Healthy Living: Black Bean Dip

Looking for a healthy dip alternative? I was – I wanted a guilt free dip that I could enjoy with vegetables or for a treat with tortilla chips. This recipe is the result and I was so pleased with the delicious, easy, healthy dip created with such simple ingredients!

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2 cans black beans (1 drained, 1 not)
1/2 c. cilantro
1/2 tsp. lime zest
juice of 1 lime
1 jalapeno, cut into large chunks
1/2-1 tsp. salt

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Process until smooth and creamy. Chill before serving or serve at room temperature. Serve with prepared vegetables or tortilla chips. Enjoy!

Weekend Fare: Vegetarian Salad

**Off the Shelf will be appearing tomorrow instead of today and will be the June magazine edition!**

I will admit that I didn’t set out to make a vegetarian dinner but somehow I managed to have some spoiled chicken. So, the dinner plan changed and we weren’t too sorry to see the meat go. This recipe does not require any cooking which is awesome for a hot summer day. We enjoyed it for an evening dinner on the deck. The bright colors are a beautiful addition to any table.

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1 can black bean, drained & rinsed
1 can corn, drained
1/2 c. cilantro, chopped
10 cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 avocadoes, diced
1/4 c. red onion, chopped
2 green onions, sliced
Salt & Pepper to taste
Mixed greens

Combine all ingredients except the mixed greens and toss with the vinagrette. Serve over mixed greens.

1/4 c. canola oil
2 limes, juiced
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt & pepper to taste

Whisk ingredients together to blend.

Weekend Fare: Black Bean Salad

The recipe I’m sharing today actually came from the April issue of Food Network Magazine. It easy, fresh, and delicious! I had never tried watercress and decided to go ahead and add it as called for in the recipe and it was so good. I will definitely be buying it again.

This would be perfect with grilled chicken or a white fish if you want to dress it up a little. You could also use it as a side dish or as serve it with pita bread, tortilla chips, or crusty bread as a main dish. It’s great for the weekend and once spring hits, I always start craving fresh vegetables and salad!

(adapted from Food Network Magazine, April 2010)
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2 garlic clove, minced
1 jalapeno, seeds removed and diced
1 tsp. cumin seed
2 tsp. olive oil
1 – 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed
1 1/2 c. cucumber diced (I like the English ones)
1 1/2 c. grape tomatoes, halved (I used cherry and quartered them)
4 scallions, chopped
1/2 c. cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1 bunch watercress (I used mostly the leaves and not much stem)
Salt to taste

Heat garlic cloves, jalapeno and cumin seeds in a skillet with olive oil over low heat, 5 minutes. Toss a can of black beans, diced cucumber, tomatoes, scallions, lime juice and cilantro in a bowl. Add the hot garlic mixture to the beans. Season with salt and toss with watercress. Serves 4-6.

Simple Suppers: Rice and Beans

Many of you know from my profile that I am not a huge fan of legumes. In fact, there are only a few types that I actually enjoy eating, namely red lentils and black beans. During the early days of the recent Haiti crisis I decided to make rice and beans for the children to experience something of what the normal diet is in Haiti. Without realizing it, I discovered a simple supper or lunch that was easy to make and really delicious. We’ve eaten it numerous times since.

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2 cans black beans
1 cup salsa
1-2 tsp. cumin

to serve:
cooked brown rice
grated cheese

Get the rice started — I use a rice cooker which means I just throw in rice and water, turn on the cooker and leave it until we are ready to eat.

Dump the beans and salsa into a saucepan. Add cumin to taste and heat through.

Serve over cooked rice with grated cheese on top. If you want to get fancy you can add other toppings such as chopped tomato, chopped onion, sour-cream, chopped avocado, shopped cucumber, shredded lettuce, or sliced black olives.

Serves 4-6.