Before I talk about these amazing enchiladas, I have a vegan confession to make. I’m afraid that I get very, very, skeptical about turning some foods into successful vegan adventures. Mexican food is one thing that I tend to feel rather strongly about. No meat? No CHEESE? Okay, no meat I can handle, but no CHEESE? I stay away from soy products, so all those fake cheesy things make me feel a bit queasy.
For quite a while, as I learned more about the modern food system in America, I would tell people that “I try to avoid factory farmed meat”, and, in the past few months, would find myself increasingly less able to enjoy such meat when I did eat it. So, after a wonderful Christmas dinner with my family, where I did take a piece of the beautiful pork crown roast my mom made (but then gave the last 1/3 to one of my willing brothers after concluding I wasn’t enjoying it), I decided I’d just stop. No more factory farmed meats for me. It’s a pretty simple resolution really; Joe’s been eating that way for a couple years, so the only time it’s made difficult is in social settings where meat is served.
Now, I am certainly still a carnivore! I will happily partake of a good piece of meat whenever I get the chance, but let me emphasize, a good piece of meat. I won’t go into all the ins and outs of this multifaceted argument here, because there’s a recipe I want to get to, but for now just let me say that there is a monumental difference between the chicken or beef you pick up at the grocery and something that you hunted or raised yourself, and good refers exclusively to the latter.
All that being said, I guess I’m much closer to a vegan now than I ever was before! Which brings me back to my initial skepticism: Mexican food made vegan. I can now happily say that a couple of my favorite vegan food adventures have been the ones that I was most suspicious of. I just didn’t think they could live up to the carnivorous versions. First there were the black bean tacos with cabbage slaw – YUM! The first time we ate them, I had mine with cheese, because I just couldn’t fathom tacos without cheese! Now I know they’re quite good without as well.
And now, I can add these sweet potato, black bean, spinach and pepper enchiladas to the list of exceeding-expecations-recipes. Ohhhh my! Isn’t that just an awesome ingredient line-up? The idea for these enchiladas came from Oh She Glows, and is a recipe that caught my eye some time ago. The avocado cilantro sauce from the recipe there is what really makes these enchiladas amazing even without cheese. I didn’t notice it was missing!
These enchiladas are a recipe that can be made more or less time-intensive depending on your schedule. I highly recommend making the avocado cilantro sauce to go along (you could omit the cilantro if you like), but if you don’t have time, or want to use cheese, or even use both!, then go for it. Joe and I also made our own tortillas… Okay, so Joe made the tortillas. I made the enchilada sauce, and having both of those elements homemade really pushed this dinner into the “incredible” category. I strongly recommend going all out and making it all at home, if you’re able to. The tortilla recipe we use is here. I would post my enchilada sauce recipe, but, after shockingly running out of chili powder, I used some other blend of spices that were not measured, and so cannot really say, in specifics, how it was made.
Sweet Potato, Black Bean, Spinach and Pepper Enchiladas
makes 8-10 enchiladas
2 onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups sweet potato, chopped & boiled 5-10 minutes, until just barely tender!
1 1/2 cup zucchini, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 handfuls spinach, chopped
4 cups cooked black beans, drained
3 1/2 cups enchilada sauce, canned or homemade
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp chili powder
2-4 Tbsp fresh lime juice, to taste
1 tsp salt, to taste
8-10 whole grain tortillas, store-bought or homemade
Avocado Cilantro Sauce, recipe follows
green onion and cilantro for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil. Add remaining veggies and the black beans, cooking for 5-7 minutes over medium-low heat. Add about 2 cups of the enchilada sauce, and the remaining seasonings. Adjust to taste. Spread about 3/4 cup of the reserved enchilada sauce in bottom of a greased casserole dish. Scoop about 1/2-3/4 cup of filling into each tortilla and roll it up, placing the folded side down in the dish. Spread remaining enchilada sauce over the top. Bake for 18-20 minutes. When done, pour sauce over and sprinkle with chopped green onion and cilantro. Serve immediately!
Avocado Cilantro Sauce
1 1/4 cup avocado flesh (about 2 avocados)
about 2 Tbsp water, more if needed
2-3 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup cilantro
1 tsp salt, to taste
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp cumin
black pepper and cayenne pepper, to taste
In a food processor, process avocado and water until creamy, adding water to achieve desired consistency. Add remaining ingredients and mix until smooth. Use immediately! You don’t want leftover of this, as it won’t last well, but if you do end up with a bit extra, put one of the avocado pits back in with the sauce, and cover with plastic pressed against the surface of the sauce, this will prevent it from turning very brown. I just learned the avocado pit trick from Joe, who learned it in Hawaii; it’s great!!