you are what you eat: Tuesday

Tuesday:

VEGETARIAN BEAN ENCHILADAS

Ingredients

  • Flour tortillas
  • Brown onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, grated or finely chopped
  • 2 – 3 teaspoons of chili powder, depending on your level of spice!
  • Sprinkling of cumin and oregano
  • 1 clove of garlic, diced
  • Vegetable stock cube
  • Teaspoon of hot water
  • Can of mixed beans OR Borlotti/Black-eyed beans
  • Cheddar cheese, grated
  • And Greek-style yoghurt, if you like it – I didn’t use this because I absolutely hate it, but I will still include it in the instructions!

Enchiladas can sometimes be quite rich. The combination of cheese and meat can often leave you towards the end of the meal wishing you didn’t have to eat anymore. I happen to consider myself reasonably expert in the field of enchiladas – at school as part of my GCSE, I had to cook them twice a week for roughly 6 weeks, each time changing a different component. The only problem was, was that after eating the same meal twice a week for such a sustained period of time, you begin to get quite sick of them, even begin to resent them, until you never want to see an enchilada again! Except this version, I don’t. Having steered clear of this dish for almost three years, I genuinely think I preferred this adaptation to any that my fifteen-year-old self produced. The bean and lentil combination made it a meal that was filling but wasn’t over indulgent; didn’t leave you hungry, but didn’t leave you feeling sick and like you never needed to eat again. And, although this recipe is listed as a station kitchen dish, it isn’t difficult to make, only time consuming. At most stages in this dish you need to be in the kitchen monitoring its progress, and so I wouldn’t recommend if pushed for time! But when you have a spare evening, try this, because it really does make the most perfect supper.

Enchiladas are usually a meat in a tomato sauce, wrapped in tortillas; covered with a cheese sauce, often topped with grated cheese, they are then baked. There are many different ways to make them, but largely all vegetarian equivalents keep things simple, turning to beans. So firstly, meat versus beans. I chose to use beans for this dish after the use of lentils yesterday, to allow me to experiment with different vegetarian textures. Whilst they are not in any way similar to the texture of meat, I found them to be a brilliant alternative. Because of the indulgent nature of meat, especially beef, when it is combined with cheese in traditional enchiladas, the resulting richness can almost be too intense – I didn’t find myself missing the taste of meat whilst eating these, glad that I wasn’t feeling the pains of a usually heavy dish. There are various beans that could be used for this – I went for the easy option and used an inspiringly named ‘mixed beans’ tin; I think opting for other beans, such as Borlotti or Black-eyed beans would give a creamier taste, that would go someway to emulating the depth of flavour meat has without the difficulties of richness.

With regard to spicing, this recipe only used chili powder – the tomato sauce should be somewhat reminiscent of a chili con carne sauce, and thus other herbs and spices could be added for an extra burst of flavour. Oregano and cumin are used often in Mexican cuisine, and so these should be considered in this recipe for authenticity. Combined with a sprinkling of vegetable stock, the sauce will be given a further layer of flavour – increasing flavour in this version of the dish is of the utmost importance as the meat component is removed; meat usually contributing to the main taste. So I think overall this dish is one I prefer to the original, especially with the given modifications to the vegetarian recipe. Try out this dish – it certainly proves wrong the assumption that meat-free is taste-free!

(suggested modifications in bold on Ingredients list)

the combination of beans with an extra flavoursome tomato sauce is far less rich, yet arguably more satisfying, than meat

Method

  1. Fry the onion and carrot on a medium heat for around 5 – 10 minutes until they have begun to soften, but before they have begun to brown. Add the chili powder, and the sprinkling of oregano and cumin if using.
  2. At this point, the onion and carrot will become coated in the seasonings and may begin to stick to the bottom of the pan. Add the teaspoon of water and stir thoroughly – the seasonings should mix with the water and make a thick ‘sauce’. If more water is needed, add more, but be careful not to add too much – you want the ingredients to not stick to the pan, but if too much water is added the sauce will be too runny and will be difficult to roll into flour tortillas! If using, sprinkle in the vegetable stock cube.
  3. Pour in the mixed beans along with the tin of tomatoes. Bring to the boil, and then simmer for 5 to 10 minutes until the sauce has reduced. Taste at this point, to gauge the spiciness of the sauce – add more chili powder to taste if you think it needs it!
  4. Take a baking tray, and spread a spoonful of the chili mixture on it. Place a flour tortilla on a separate plate, and place a spoonful of the chili mixture in the middle of the tortilla. Spread into a vertical line, so the mixture looks as if it is ‘dividing’ the tortilla in two
  5. Roll one side of the tortilla tightly over to the middle, and then bring the other side over the top. It should now be rolled up with the mixture inside. Place this roll on top of the chili mixture spread out over the baking tray. If you place the ‘fold’ of the tortilla (where the two sides meet) face down onto the tray, it will prevent it coming open during cooking
  6. Repeat this process with as many tortillas as you want, extending the amount of chili mixture on the base of the baking tray if necessary
  7. Turn the grill onto medium, and grate cheddar cheese. If you like Greek yoghurt, mix the cheese with the yoghurt and spread over the top of the tortillas. Or, if you, like me, absolutely hate Greek yoghurt, just sprinkle cheese over the tortillas.
  8. Grill for a few moments until the cheese is golden and bubbling – how long this takes will depend on the strength of your grill, so monitor well to prevent it burning!
  9. When done, transfer to a plate, and serve with a simple green salad.


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