Entrees / Vegetarian / What's For Dinner

Smoky Eggplant Enchiladas

 

 

A craft like cooking has to be fluid and alive. My day-to-day cooking for the whims and likes of other people is often filled with challenges and small victories and always much heartfelt appreciation and gratitude.  The last part is what I probably love most about what I do. I cook food for people so they don’t have to. And yet in such a seemingly small gesture, I fill their home and kitchen with the aromas of life, of memories of maybe their favorite past meals, dinners out with family, that one romantic night without the kids. I bring that all to them, in the comfort of their home, where they are free to sit down in front of the tv in their pajamas or at the dinner table to get to more important business like family time, or gaining a few extra hours to go on that long walk or bike ride they had hoped to squeeze in before the sun sets for the day. I like that my work is the glue that holds these families together, because sometimes it’s hard enough getting the coffee right in the morning, or the kids’ clothes to match before they walk out the door, or keeping the new puppy from chewing every single piece of furniture you own.

I’ve recently had a resurgence of creativity in the kitchen thanks to a few new cookbooks and classes I’ve taken. It’s always great to step back and gain new perspective for something you devote a lot of your time doing. It’s easy to fall into routine for ease and efficiency, but making new connections with food and ingredients and ways to bring them together is something that always inspires me. Years ago when I first started creating recipes to post into a blog, I had a thought about how wonderful it would be that at the end of one year I would have this collection of new work, a body of work that was well within me but had no structure, no form or frame until I dreamed it, envisioned it and then brought it together to put here on this site. That thought still floors me and motivates me every day. It’s a great metaphor for anything in life really. You don’t really know what you are capable of until you have the courage and the curiosity to dream it and then make it real.

These enchiladas are real. Real delicious. I’ve made all sorts of variations of enchiladas but these are probably my favorite. They are infused with the smokiness of three types of peppers: ancho, chipotle and roasted poblanos. And, they’re a great vegetarian option that’s not just covered in cheese or cream. They were a late-summer creation with all the bounty of tomatoes and eggplant that filled the shelves at the grocery store this year.  Yet surely the aroma of these baking in your oven will make them an any season favorite in your family.

 

Smoky Eggplant Enchiladas

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • For the sauce:
  • 3 medium vine-ripe tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 dried ancho peppers, reconstituted in hot water
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, deseeded
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon oil
  • For the enchiladas:
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • ½ sweet yellow onion, medium dice
  • 10 oz, about 4 cups, small dice eggplant (leave skin on)
  • 2 tomatillos, roasted and diced small
  • 1 medium poblano pepper, roasted, deseeded and diced small
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1/3 cup ancho pepper soaking liquid
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 12 yellow corn tortillas
  • 2-3 additional Tablespoons oil
  • 1 ½ cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 cup cotija cheese, crumbled

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Place dried ancho pepper in a small bowl covered with water. Let soak 15-20 minutes or until soft enough to remove stem and seeds. Reserve soaking liquid.
  3. In a large skillet, dry roast over medium heat, the tomatillos, poblano and tomatoes until nicely charred. Just before removing from the pan, slowly pour in 3/4 cups of the ancho pepper soaking liquid to deglaze the pan. Place the tomatoes into a food processor or blender along with any remaining liquid from the pan. Set the tomatillos and poblano onto a cutting board to cool before removing any stems and seeds and chopping into a small dice.
  4. Pour two tablespoons of oil into the skillet and sauté the onion and eggplant over medium heat until slightly golden and the soft. Add chopped tomatillo, poblano, garlic, salt and 1/3 of a cup of the ancho pepper soaking liquid. Cook down until most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in cilantro and remove from heat into a small mixing bowl.
  5. To the roasted tomatoes, add the ancho pepper, garlic, chipotle, salt and oil. Puree to create a smooth sauce. Set aside.
  6. Place tortillas on a large plate and brush top side with remaining 2-3 Tablespoons of oil, layering each tortilla one on top of the other. Microwave for 1 minute, then flip the stack in half and microwave for 1 minute more. Allow a few minutes to cool before handling.
  7. Fill the bottom third of the tortilla with about 2 Tablespoons of the eggplant filling, followed by about 2 teaspoons of each of the cheeses. Roll each tortilla closed and place, seam side down, into a large baking pan, packed closely together. Top with sauce and any remaining cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 5-10 minutes. Sprinkle with additional cilantro.
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