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Vegetarian Black Bean Enchiladas

Photograph by Alejandra Graf

These black bean enchiladas are the perfect combination between enfrijoladas, a Mexican dish where the tortillas are dipped in black beans, and enchiladas, another Mexican dish where the tortilla is dipped in salsa and then stuffed with meat, cheese or a type of grain. This dish brings back wonderful childhood memories every time I prepare it.

I have two siblings and my mom often asked us what we wanted to eat for dinner. Of course, we each had a different craving and it could sometimes take us hours to decide what we wanted. Very often the choices were narrowed down to two options: enchiladas or enfrijoladas. Now, I kind of secretly know where this dish came from: my mom combined the best of both worlds to keep everybody happy and get dinner on the table! The dish is simply made from corn tortillas that are lightly oiled and stuffed with refried black beans, and covered in a light red salsa.

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My own addition to this childhood favorite recipe is the topping of the avocado and cilantro salsa. I'm not always as nice as my mom was to ask the kids what they're craving, but I do prepare two versions of this salsa: one spicy and a non-spicy version, and I do ask them which one they want. I guess that in a way, I feel that I'm spoiling my kids a little bit like my mom spoiled us. I'm just glad to know the kids love this easy vegetarian recipe so I can get dinner on the table quickly!

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RECIPE: Vegetarian Black Bean Enchiladas with Red Salsa

Yields 8-10 enchiladas

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 can or 1 1/2 cup cooked black beans
  • 2 tablespoons of neutral-tasting oil (such as canola oil or safflower oil), divided
    2 tablespoons of finely chopped white onion
    4 large tomatoes, cut into big chunks
  • 1/2 cup white onion chunks
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 2 + 4 tablespoons of chopped cilantro
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red or white onion (for garnish)
  • 1 teaspoon lime or lemon juice
  • 1 jalapeño or serrano chile pepper (optional)
  • sea salt
  • 10 corn tortillas

Directions

  1. Add one tablespoon of neutral-tasting oil to a pot with a lid and add the 1/2 cup onion chunks. Lightly sauté until translucent, add the garlic cloves and the tomato chunks with a big pinch of sea salt. If it begins to scorch, add 1/4 cup of water.
  2. When the tomatoes are cooked, blend the mixture in a blender or with an immersion blender. Add the oregano and two tablespoons of chopped cilantro, check for seasoning, lower the heat and cover.
  3. For the refried black beans, add one tablespoon of neutral-tasting oil in a skillet and sauté two tablespoons of finely chopped onion. Add the beans and a pinch of sea salt. Mash the beans until they form a thick paste. If you feel it is too thick, add a little water or some of the water where the beans were cooked. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed.
  4. To prepare the salsa, simply mix the diced avocado, two tablespoons of chopped onion, four tablespoons of chopped cilantro, lime juice, a pinch of salt and the chile pepper if using.
  5. To make the enchiladas just heat the corn tortillas, then stuff with three tablespoons of refried black beans each. Place two or three stuffed tortillas in a plate and ladle the red salsa on top.
  6. Garnish with the avocado and cilantro salsa.

TIP: The easiest way to heat up corn tortillas and make them pliable for a dish like this is to very briefly fry them in hot oil (about three seconds per side) or dip in hot water. Another method that works well is heating up all the tortillas at the same time wrapped in a kitchen cloth in the microwave. The goal is to prevent the tortillas from cracking or falling apart when stuffed with the filling.

Photograph by Alejandra Graf

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