I’m one of those people at the grocery store that is always reading the labels on food jars, standing there squinting under the fluorescent lights at the purposefully small print and clogging up the aisle traffic. Sorry about that! In my defense, once you start this habit, you just cannot stop; I have to know what is in those bags and boxes and cans. The list of ingredients that freak me out are primarily added sugars of any kind to things that don’t need sugar (i.e. spaghetti sauce) and strange unpronounceable additives. To this end, I wind up buying a lot of basics and making my own when I cannot can my own. This strategy offers peace of mind and a smidge of savings in my bank account.
I used to rely heavily on mass produced enchilada sauces until my label reading habit turned me off with the high fructose corn syrups. Since I declared my sauce independence, I have experimented to find a sauce that is delicious, quick and cheap to make on a regular basis. I prefer green enchilada sauce to red, but you could easily swap out ingredients to make a red sauce if you prefer.
Simple Green Chile Enchilada Sauce
- 1 -4 medium sized roasted green chiles (depending on spice level), stems removed and chopped
- 2 fresh garlic cloves, minced
- 1 28 oz. can of tomatillos, chopped
- tsp – Tbsp of ground cumin
- sprinkling of salt
- sprinkling of pepper
- fresh lime juice (if available)
- fresh cilantro (if available)
Slightly chop the chiles, garlic and tomatoes and place in blender. Add the remaining spices and blend until a smooth and thick consistency sauce-like consistency. This recipe is a simple platform for sauce and can be adapted to your own liking. If tomatillos are too tart, try a can of regular tomatoes. If roasted green chiles are unavailable, try canned chiles. I guarantee you that whatever way you choose to make your enchilada sauce, it will be so much better than the canned stuff. The above recipe makes one 9 x 11 inch pan worth of enchiladas with sauce on the bottom and top.
Let’s talk about enchilada structure now. I used to be one of those people who meticulously rolled up my ingredients into the tortilla and hoped that it wouldn’t crack and break apart in the pan. This method is why people do not make enchiladas on a work night. Now, I simply layer the tortillas lasagna-style: 1 layer of tortillas (slightly overlapping), then the filling, a top layer of tortillas and sauce which is so much simpler! Aesthetically, yes it is more of a casserole but the flavors are the same and the frustration level during prep is minimal. Try it sometime, it is a better way to construct.
I love to make enchiladas. My favorite combination is spinach, black beans, sauteed red onions, corn and queso fresco (soft crumbly Mexican cheese). I often make the enchiladas vegetarian because I just love vegetables, but enchiladas are a bit like pizza and you can experiment to your hearts content.
It is a great feeling to realize that you can make the same thing that comes in a can healthier and better.