True story: Until the other day, I had never made an enchilada. Even more shocking: I’d never eaten one, either. Too much gooey cheese, ugh. So not my bag. But then I found myself with an abundance of fabulously fresh tortillas from Tortilleria Nixtamal—where they not only make the tortillas, they grind the corn too. Then a borderline-wrinkly sweet potato caught my eye, and a can of black beans called out from the cabinet… And when the chipotles in adobo beckoned from the fridge, well, who could say no to those smoky little sweethearts?
I made my own enchilada sauce, which sounds much more difficult than it is. One of the many wonderful things about Mexican cooking: Sauce recipes often call for tossing ingredients into the blender. Verrry little actual work involved. (I wrote about Mexican cooking for Weight Watchers, if you’d like to learn a little more.) The flavor deepens if you have a few minutes to sear the sauce in a hot pan after pureeing, but it’ll be cooked further in the oven, so I won’t tell if you skip this step. Remember my New Parents’ Motto: Who needs authenticity? We just want to eat.
You could also use your favorite prepared enchilada sauce, in which case the recipe becomes super-simple. Just know that you’ll lose the “smoky” part of the recipe, since the chipotles appear only in the sauce.
This is a Nap-Friendly recipe. If you’d like to prepare it in stages, make the sauce and bake the sweet potatoes during one nap, assemble during the next, and bake right before dinner. Refrigerate everything in between.
Smoky Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas
For the enchilada sauce:
2 cups canned tomatoes (chopped, diced, crushed, whole—whatever you’ve got)
1 chipotle in adobo, with seeds (that’s one pepper, not one can! remove seeds if you’d like less heat)
1 small onion roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
For the enchiladas:
2 sweet potatoes, baked and cooled slightly (I do them in the microwave while preparing the sauce)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
One 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1 teaspoon chili powder
salt & pepper
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, optional
8-10 small corn tortillas
1-2 cups shredded Jack or Cheddar cheese (amount depends on how gooey you like your enchiladas)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a small rectangular baking dish.
- Make the sauce: Put all the ingredients except salt into a blender and puree. Add salt to taste.
- OPTIONAL: If you have a few minutes, intensify the flavors with a quick spin in a hot, dry skillet over medium heat—cook, stirring occasionally, until it thickens slightly and color darkens. No time? Skip this step.
- Now make the filling: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When it shimmers, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Scoop out the insides of the potatoes and add to the skillet—discard or nibble on the skins. Mash slightly with the back of a spoon. Add the beans, broth, chili powder, and salt & pepper to taste. Lower heat and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, just to let the flavors meld. Stir in the cilantro.
- Now assemble the enchiladas: Pour 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sauce into the baking dish and tilt to spread. One at a time, heat the tortillas over a gas flame (use long tongs so you don’t get burned)* Once softened and lightly charred, spoon a few tablespoons of filling down the center and bring the edges of the tortilla over the top. Place seam-side down into the baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas. If you have extra filling, reserve for quesadillas tomorrow!
- Once the baking dish is filled, pour about a cup of sauce over the enchiladas, then top with shredded cheese. (Refrigerate any extra sauce, and use within one week.) Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until cheese is browned and edges are bubbling.
MAKE BABY FOOD: You’ve got several options here: Puree some plain sweet potato with milk or broth if you’re at the very beginning. Serve as chunky finger food along with plain beans and cheese if you’re a little further along. Or if your baby likes spice, serve the prepared filling, either pureed or as finger food.
* No gas range? Heat them in the microwave, stacked and wrapped in moist paper towels, for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or one at a time in a dry skillet.