It’s time to divulge a secret: I’ve been completely addicted to Trader Joe’s frozen corn and black bean enchiladas for the last two years. As much as I love to cook, this is one of two packaged meals that continuously pop up in my rotation (the other being Kashi’s Mayan harvest bake). It started a couple years ago, when I often found myself rushing to grab food on my lunch break. Enter the magical $1.99 meal – the best vegan deal around town. Heated up in just a few minutes and sprinkled (ahem, covered) with nutritional yeast, this quickly became my favorite lunch.
Until recently I’d never actually made enchiladas. Despite my love for the TJ’s variety, which are doused in a traditional red tomato-based sauce, I went the green route when making my own. I consulted with the king of Mexican food, Rick Bayless, who pointed me towards his Tacuba-style enchilada sauce (read: I looked it up on his website, though I wish I could say he personally advised me). A little bit of veganization later I had whipped up a jar of gorgeous, bright green poblano sauce.
The filling was the next of my concerns. I stuck with the corn and black bean theme that I know and love and mixed them up with a blend of tomato paste and smoky jarred chipotle. I added in a roasted sweet potato for a contrast to the spice of the sauce and chipotle.
Once baked, I topped the enchiladas with some cool, tangy cashew cream to round out the dish.
This was truly one of the best meals I’ve ever made. Truth be told, I ate these three times in a span of three days.
And so ends the tale of my dependence on the Trader Joe’s enchilada gods.
TACUBA STYLE ENCHILADAS
- 12 corn tortillas
- 1 batch enchilada sauce (recipe below)
- Fillings of choice (i.e. beans, tofu, tempeh, and vegetables)
- Cashew “sour cream” (recipe below)
1. Mix cooked protein and vegetables with 3/4 cup of the sauce.
2. Wrap tortillas in a damp towel and microwave for 30 seconds. Keep them wrapped in the towel as you assemble the enchiladas
3. Add 1 cup of sauce to an empty baking dish large enough to fit all of your enchiladas.
4. Working one at a time, add about 1/4 cup of filling to each tortilla. Roll up and place inside your baking dish, sealed side down.
5. Once all the enchiladas are rolled, cover them with the rest of the sauce. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.
ENCHILADA SAUCE (Adapted from Rick Bayless)
- 3 poblano peppers (sometimes labeled pasilla peppers)
- 1/2 cup thawed frozen spinach
- 2 cups unflavored, unsweetened almond milk (or other neutral non-dairy milk)
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
1. Roast peppers directly under broiler until completely charred, turning every few minutes to evenly cook. Place in a bowl and cover with a towel. Once cooled, peel the blackened skins off of the peppers and remove the stems and seeds.
2. Heat the broth and milk together over medium-high heat
3. In a sauce pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add garlic and onions, saute for two minutes. Add the flour and stir for one minute.
4. Increase heat to medium-high and add the broth/milk mixture. Whisk until the sauce boils, then reduce heat and simmer for five minutes.
5. To a blender, add the spinach, roasted peppers, and the sauce mixture. Blend until smooth and season to taste.
These enchiladas can be made with any vegetables and protein you have on hand. Generally, you’ll want to mix your precooked filling with about 1/2 to 1 cup of the enchilada sauce. When I made these I seasoned the mixture with a separate sauce (because I can’t pass up the opportunity to add chipotle to something), but they’d be equally delicious and simpler using just the green sauce.
Try tempeh, tofu, or beans along with a mixture of your favorite vegetables or whichever ones you’ve got on hand.
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon agave
- 2 jarred chipotles
- Sweet potato, cubed and cooked
- Corn, cut from the cob and sauteed with a clove of garlic
- Black beans, cooked
CASHEW “SOUR CREAM”
- 1/2 cup cashews, soaked in water for at least four hours
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 2-3 tablespoons water
- pinch of salt
1. Drain cashews
2. Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and mix until smooth. Add water as needed to reach desired consistency.