not-exactly spinach enchiladas

spinach enchiladasI lived in New Mexico for a while and feasted on some of the best Mexican food this side of the border.  Food trucks were always my restaurant of choice, with freshly made tortillas and unspoiled family recipes.  Breakfast burritos, fish tacos, chile relleno… unbelievably tasty.

I don’t pretend to know how to replicate those food truck memories, but I’ve always turned to Mexican flavors and dishes as a staple in the kitchen.  And since I am of Italian descent, sometimes the two cuisines come together for me in an obvious way.

That’s what happened with this dish.  It’s not really enchiladas because I use flour tortillas, and it’s not really Mexican because I use some Italian-style cheeses.  But when you think about it, ricotta is just an Italian style requeson and mozzarella is a close relative of queso blanco.  If your market has the Mexican versions of the cheeses I used, even better that you’ll be keeping it truly authentic.  Speaking of authentic, I add cocoa powder to the tomato sauce, which is called mole in Mexico.  This is a light-handed interpretation of what can be a very chocolate-flavored sauce.  Feel free to omit the cocoa, if desired, for a straightforward enchilada sauce.

ingredients:

~sauce:

  • 2 pints cherry/grape tomatoes, roasted** {or one 28-ounce can peeled, diced or crushed tomatoes}
  • 1/2 teaspoon each s&p, or more to taste
  • pinch sugar
  • 1 or 2 drops chile oil, or more to taste
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder, optional

~filling:

  • 2 packages frozen spinach, thawed & squeezed dry
  • 2 roasted red peppers, chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese {some is for topping}
  • 2 cups shredded sharp white cheddar cheese {some is for topping}
  • 1 pint whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
  • 10 or so scrapes fresh nutmeg
  • generous pinch each s&p

~plus:

  • 1/2-cup olive oil + a bit extra
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • flour tortillas, one package of smaller size

directions:

  • **if roasting tomatoes:  lightly coat tomatoes with a drizzle of olive oil on a baking sheet and roast at 400F for 20 minutes
  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • In a medium sauce pan, heat 1/4-cup of the olive oil over medium heat; add tomatoes, chile oil, s&p
  • Bring to boil; turn heat to lowest setting and add cocoa powder
  • Cover, simmering for 15 minutes then take off heat
  • Blend sauce with hand blender; set aside, allowing flavors to meld
  • In a large saute pan, heat about 1/4-cup olive oil; saute onion for 4-5 minutes then add garlic and red peppers
  • Add spinach; stir until warmed
  • Add nutmeg, s&p then garlic and onion powders
  • Transfer to a large bowl; add 1-1/2 cups each of the jack and cheddar, saving some for topping
  • Add ricotta, sour cream and beaten eggs; mix well
  • Oil a 9×13-inch lasagne-type pan
  • Roll filling into flour tortillas and place them seam-side down in a row into pan
  • Top with sauce, then the jack, cheddar and mozzarella cheeses
  • Bake uncovered at 350F for 20-30 minutes, until cheese is browned and bubbly

not exactly enchiladas

Gooey goodness!

This recipe can be modified in many ways ~ add your favorite veggies, switch up the cheeses to your liking ~ so many possibilities.

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