Magazine article Sunset

Tortilla Stacking

Magazine article Sunset

Tortilla Stacking

Article excerpt

Enchilada casseroles go vegetarian

If you think enchiladas are too much work, try stacking the tortillas instead of rolling them. As many cooks in Mexico know, it's faster, easier, and potentially more interesting. The first of our two vegetarian variations is a layered mushroom enchilada casserole that you can cut and serve neatly, like lasagna. The second, baked in individual casseroles, combines spinach, cheese, and eggs. Both dishes deliver the satisfying taste of enchiladas with much less effort.

Basic Mexican ingredients-refrigerated salsas; canned sauces and black beans; and even fresh, squeaky panela cheese, sharp cotija cheese, and tangy aema (Mexican sour cream)-are available in many supermarkets.

Enchiladas Negras

PREP AND COOK TIME: 1 ½ to 2 hours

DO-AHEAD TIP: You can make the filling (steps 1 and 2) and sauce (step 3) up to 1 day ahead; cover separately and chill. You can assemble the casserole (through step 4) up to 2 hours ahead; cover and chill.

MAKES: 6 to 9 servings

NOTES: Black beans give these enchiladas their name, since they darken the red chili sauce. Cooks in the Yucatan would add diced bananas to the cucumbers and cilantro on top.

2 pounds mushrooms, rinsed, discolored stem ends trimmed, and thinly sliced

8 ounces fresh poblano chilies (sometimes mistakenly labeled pasilla), rinsed, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped (1 cup), or 1 can (7 oz.) diced green chilies

1 onion (8 oz.), peeled and finely chopped

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 ½ cups vegetable broth

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 to 1 ½ cups sour cream or Mexican crema

1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained

1 ½ cups green salsa (salsa verde, refrigerated or canned; about 14 oz.)

1 can (10 oz.) red enchilada sauce

12 corn tortillas (6'/2 to 7 in. wide)

1 ½ cups shredded mild cheddar cheese (6 oz.)

½ cup diced cucumber (optional)

½ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (see notes)

Vinegared red onions (recipe on page 116)

1. In a 5- to 6-quart pan, combine mushrooms, poblano chilies, onion, cumin seeds, and ½ cup broth. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat; cover, reduce heat, and simmer until vegetables are juicy and limp, 12 to 15 minutes. Uncover, increase heat to high, and stir often until vegetables are dry and beginning to brown, about 20 minutes.

2. In a bowl, blend cornstarch with the remaining 1 cup broth. Add ½ cup sour cream and whisk to blend. Add to mushroom mixture and stir until boiling, 1 to 3 minutes.

3. In a blender, whirl beans, salsa, and enchilada sauce.

4. Pour ½ cups bean sauce into a 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Stack 6 tortillas and cut in half. Lay 6 of the halves in casserole, straight edges against casserole sides, then overlap 3 whole tortillas to completely cover bottom. Scrape mushroom mixture onto tortillas and spread level. Fit straight edges of remaining tortilla halves against casserole sides, then overlap remaining whole tortillas to cover filling. Pour remaining black bean sauce over tortillas and spread to coat completely.

5. Bake in a 350° oven until sauce is bubbling, 35 to 40 minutes (45 minutes if chilled). Sprinkle with cheese and bake until melted, 3 to 5 minutes longer.

6. Remove casserole from oven and let stand 10 to 15 minutes. Top decoratively with cucumbers, if desired, and cilantro. Scatter about half the vinegared red onions over casserole; put remaining in a small bowl. …

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