Food Epiphany

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Cheese and Caramelized Onion Enchiladas

Last night I made these fantastic enchiladas for maybe the third time. I’ve always wimped out on earlier version with the amount of chiles because of the spiciness, but this time I followed the recipe exactly. They were a touch to hot for me, but still extremely good! I think they are even better than anything I’ve had eating out, which is saying a lot when you live in Southern California! I forgot to choose romaine lettuce at the farm, so there wasn’t any lettuce, to cool them off a bit we had heaps of sour cream on the side!

The recipe is from A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop, which I helped work on when I was working with Rux at Houghton Mifflin.


Quick Red Chile Sauce

1 tablespoon canola or corn oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

4 medium garlic cloves, minced

1 large chipotle chile in adobe sauce, minced (about 1 1/2 teaspoons), with 1 tablespoon sauce

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground corriander

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 cup canned tomato sauce

3/4 cup water

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice


1. for the sauce: Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, chipolte, adobo sauce, chili powder, cumin, coriander, and oregano and cook until very fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomato sauce and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the head and simmer to blend the flavors, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lime juice and adjust the seasonings, adding alt to taste. The sauce can be cooled and refrigerated in an airtight container for a day or two.

Fillings and Tortillas

1 tablespoon canola or corn oil

1 pound onions (about 3 medium), halved and thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)

2 ounces drained pickled jalapenos, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)

1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

10 6-inch corn tortillas


8 leaves romaine lettuce, sliced crosswise into thin strips

1 medium avocado, halved, pitted, scooped from skin, and diced

1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

For the filling and tortillas: Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onions, sugar, and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to brown slightly about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring often, until the onions are browned deeply and very soft, about 15 minutes. Scrape the onions into a medium bowl and cool to room temperature. Add 1 1/2 cups of the cheese, the pickled jalapenos, and cilantro to the bowl with the onions and toss to combine.

Move the oven racks to the lower-middle and upper-middle positions and heat the oven to 300 degrees. Spread half of the chile sauce evenly across the bottom of a 13-by-9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Divide the tortillas among two large rimmed baking sheets and generously spray both sides of each tortilla with cooking spray. Bake the tortillas for 3 minutes, or until pliable enough to roll easily. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees.

Arrange the tortillas on a work surface. Working with one tortilla at a time, spoon about 1/4 cup of te onion filling across the center of the tortilla. Roll up the tortilla very tightly (the ends will be open) and place it seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling. Spoon the remaining sauce over the filled tortillas, making sure the sauce coats each tortilla from end to end. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup cheese over the filled tortillas.

Cover the baking dish with foil and place it on the upper-middle rack of the oven. Bake until the enchiladas are hot, about 20 minutes. Remove the baking dish from the oven and uncover the pan.

To serve: Place the lettuce in a bowl and toss the avocado and lime juice in a second bowl. Use a spatula to transfer the enchiladas to individual plates. Serve immediately, passing the garnishes separately at the table.


1 Comment»

  Angie wrote @

Wow, I will try these. We both love Mexican food. Very jealous that you got 1lb of avocadoes. Love them, I can just eat them plain.

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