I love winter produce and I love Mexican food and when you put them together you get Winter Squash Enchiladas. As we all know, a healthy diet includes lots of colorful foods and this is a great way to get some orange and yellow in your diet.
Also, they are a great make ahead meal that will get you out of the kitchen and enjoying family and friends. This recipe makes about 22 enchilads.
Here’s what you will need:
1 butternut squash
1 acorn squash
1 poblano pepper
1 small sweet onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
3-4 T of chopped cilantro (I usually use more because I love cilantro)
1 cup or more corn (fresh, frozen or canned)
1 – 2T sugar
cumin, chili powder, garlic, liquid smoke, salt and pepper to taste
About 3 cups of grated cheese – Monterrey Jack is best but Cheddar or any combination thereof will do.
1 or 2 cans of green enchilada sauce depending on how much you use. You can make your own tomatilla sauce if you want to be all Martha-y, and I used to do that, but now I have a six-year-old so most of the time I just use Old El Paso mild green chili enchilada sauce which you can find at nearly any grocery store. The traditional red enchilada sauce doesn’t work well with the mild sweet taste of the squash.
12-15 Corn Tortillas
Sour Cream Sauce – sour cream, chicken broth, green chilis, spices
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So then… start with two lovely sqaush like you see here, acorn in the back, butternut inthe front. Aren’t they purdy?
First, bake the squash. Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds. A grapefruit spoon works great for this task.
Place the squash cut side down on a foil lined cookie sheet and bake at 350 until tender, at least an hour, probably and hour and a half. When they are done, the skin will be soft enough to dent with your finger and your kitchen will smell awesomely good.
The squash meat should be soft and will have a natural amber caramel glaze. Set aside and let cool completely.
Prepare a poblano pepper. You can either do this on an open flame on top of the stove, on the grill or in the oven. I like the oven because it is the least amount of trouble.
Wash and dry your pepper and then place it on a foil lined sheet in a hot oven, about 425. As the skin begins to char and blister, turn with tongs to allow it to roast evenly. When all sides are charred and blistered, remove from the oven and put in a zip lock bag to steam. After it cools, remove the outer charred skin, seeds and top and then dice the remaining pepper meat.
If you don’t want to mess with poblanos, a can of green chillis works too, but you can’t beat the flavor of a poblano pepper.
Onion and Pepper Mixture. Next, dice a small sweet onion and a red bell pepper. (I didn’t have a red pepper, so I used a yellow one.) Cook on medium high heat in 2-3T of olive oil until tender. Add garlic (I use garlic powder if I don’t have fresh which is often), salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder and 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke, all to suit your taste. I realize that liquid smoke is probably a real blue collar ingredient, but I love the little bit of smokey taste it gives food without the trouble of grilling and I use it all the time.
When all of that is brown, toss in your corn and add 1 tablespoon of sugar and continue cooking until sugar is melted.
Assemble and Bake. By this time your squash should be cooled. Scoop out innards into a large mixing bowl. Add the cooked onion/bell pepper mixture and diced poblanos and about 1 cup of grated cheese and mix well.
Next, pour just enough green enchilada sauce on the bottom of a large glass baking dish to keep the enchiladas from sticking while baking.
Microwave a stack of corn tortillas in a covered container for 30 seconds or until soft. Some people lightly fry the tortillas before filling, but I think the microwave gets the job done with a lot less mess.
Place about 2 tablespoons of the squash mixture in the center of the warmed tortilla, roll it up and place seam side down in pan. Repeat until pan is filled. Top with a cup or so of green enchilada sauce and then sprinkle cheese on top. You want to put just enough enchilada sauce on top to keep them from drying out. Too much and they will get a little soggy. Although they will still taste good.
Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until bubbly and top begins to brown.
You can make these a day ahead. Take them out of the fridge and bring to room temperature before baking.
Sour Cream Sauce. Now, when I made these the other day, I thought they needed a little sour cream sauce on top. A quick and easy way to do that is to take about a cup or so of sour cream and put it in a small sauce pan on the stove on low heat. Add some chicken broth to thin and then add some cumin, chili powder, garlic and green chilis or poblanos if you have some left over. Cook on low heat and stir until you get the consistency you want. Drizzle over the top of the enchiladas just before serving.
Here’s the final product which doesn’t look all that yummy (there is an art to food photography which I haven’t had time to perfect) but trust me, they taste much better than they look.