Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Black Bean Enchiladas

I fear I’m starting to lose credibility as I have raved about every recipe thus far.  Don’t worry:  I sense an impending disaster, however, not for this post.  On Sunday night, I made black bean and vegetable enchiladas, and they were a symphony of textures and flavors.  I did not make my own enchilada sauce.  All the recipes sounded laborious and time consuming.  When I have that much gratuitous free time, I promise to make enchilada sauce.  This blog may not be the best evidence, but the majority of my life is currently devoted to becoming a speech pathologist.  Until then, the canned sauce will do, especially when jazzed up with a little fresh cilantro.  Another disclaimer: this isn’t exactly authentic Mexican food.  I have a good friend in Philadelphia from Puerto Rico, who is an amazing cook; this is what we would call “Blanquita Mexican food,” but that doesn’t mean it isn’t tasty.


1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
½ onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
6-8 button mushrooms, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 oz. baby spinach (about half of a bag)
1-14 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1-4 oz. can diced fire roasted green chiles (hot or mild depending on preference)
¾ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon hot pepper flakes (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro, plus extra for garnish
10 oz. can enchilada sauce
6 large whole wheat tortillas
1 cup shredded mild white cheddar (or any cheddar for that matter, or jack)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Over medium-high heat, sauté the onion and bell pepper in the olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper, and cook until it starts to soften, about 5-8 minutes. 
Add the mushrooms, garlic, cumin, chili powder, oregano, and hot pepper flakes.  Stir to distribute spices, and then add the green chiles.  Allow to cook for a couple of minutes, or until mushrooms start to give off liquid.
Add spinach, black beans and cilantro.  Reduce heat to low (or you can just turn it off).  Allow spinach to wilt, but don’t obliterate it because it will cook more in the oven.  Taste, and re-season if necessary.   
Meanwhile wrap the tortillas in damp paper towels and microwave for 30-45 seconds, or until they are soft and pliable.
In a 9x13 inch baking dish, pour half of the enchilada sauce and evenly distribute in the bottom of the pan.
Then sprinkle about a tablespoon of cheese and a third of a cup of the bean mixture down the center of each tortilla (this is an approximation; all of mine were slightly different in size).  Roll them and up and place in the baking dish seam-side down. 
Pour the rest of the sauce over the enchiladas and top with remaining cheese.
Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbling.  Garnish with remaining cilantro.

Comments:  This is delicious and a fiber-lover’s dream (there are four grams of fiber in each whole wheat tortilla, not to mention the beans).  I think zucchini would have been great in this, but tried to practice some restraint so I don’t become the subject of a zucchini intervention.  As much as I enjoyed the enchiladas, I must say that I do not recommend Ortega brand canned green chiles, for future reference.  I used them in this recipe and frequently came across tough, fibrous pieces.  Other than that, this was tasty and so satisfying.  The recipe yields six enchiladas.  This may not sound generous, but they are enormous.  I can tell you from experience that a two-enchilada portion is too much.  I went to bed feeling like Violet from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory after she turned into a blueberry.  Live and learn.  


  1. nutritious and delicious I would say, much better than your average greasy spoon enchilada

  2. Made these enchiladas for my parents this evening and they couldn't stop raving! Said, "Best 'Mexican' food I've ever had.' I did make a few slight modifications - sauteed onions, green pepper and celery at the beginning - then added the red a little later. Whenever I've made Mexican this (the 'trinity') has started as the base - and we all thought the celery and green pepper were great additions to the dish as a whole. Also, added zucchini as you had suggested, which was also well received. Finally, made some fresh guacamole as an appetizer that was used as a condiment later - fantastic. All in all, DELICIOUS! Always love your recipes Sara, especially the veg head friendly ones! Keep 'em coming - Jacky!

  3. Stop it, Jacky, you're making me blush! I'm glad that it turned out so well. And I'm so glad that you mentioned the celery, in particular. I've been using it more lately, and I think it really adds a lot to the base of the dish. Thanks for writing!