Chipotle Plantain Enchiladas

When my mother came to visit me in Brussels back in November, I asked her to bring some hard-to-find American treats with her, and she graciously complied. At the top of my list were maple syrup and chipotles in adobo sauce, the one being outrageously expensive, and the latter being very hard to track down in Brussels. And although I whipped through that maple syrup, the chipotles have been sitting in my cupboard, taunting me. No recipe seemed special enough to use them up, the precious things. They waited so long, I even packed them along with me to bring to Berlin. Then, just in time for Cinco de Mayo, inspiration struck.

I wanted to make enchiladas for S., figuring that they were the perfect thing to introduce him to the wonders of chipotles while providing me with little breaks from paper writing throughout the day- make the sauce, wait an hour, make the filling, wait an hour, bake, wait an hour, etc. I originally intended to make sweet potato and black bean enchiladas, but a local "Afro-Asian-Spanish" market was lacking on the "Süßkartoffels" but had plenty of tempting, perfectly blackened plantains. So instead I envisioned my dream chipotle-tomato sauce blanketing flour tortillas with starchy black beans, garlicky mushrooms, and meaty, slightly sweet roasted plantains. And wouldn't you know, these things turned out amazing. S. wants me to make them once a week. (We'll see.) Finally, a dish deserving my well-loved and well-traveled can of chipotles.

So here's the recipe, and although there are several different steps, they are all pretty easy. And the results are worth the effort. Give them a try the next time you have an afternoon and some ripe plantains on your hands.

Chipotle Plantain Enchiladas
Serves 4

Roasted Plantains
-vegetable oil
-2 large plantains, sliced into about 3/4" rounds
-agave nectar (or sub maple syrup)

Chipotle Enchilada Sauce
-1 medium red onion, diced
-1 tsp. marjoram
-1/2 tsp. cumin
-1 large can whole plum tomatoes in their sauce
-2-3 chipotles, chopped + 3 tbs. adobo sauce* (see directions)
-1 heaping tsp. brown sugar
-salt, pepper

Mushroom Black Bean and Plantain Filling
-3 cloves garlic, diced
-1 can black beans, drained
-3 large or 10 medium mushrooms, sliced
-roasted plantains, quartered

Extras and optionals
-8 Flour Tortillas
-soy sour cream (or cashew sour cream, yum)
-guac or mangos
-soy cheese

1.) First roast the plantains. Take 2 large, nearly blackened plantains and remove the skin by hand or with a paring knife. Cut into small rounds of about 3/4". In a bowl, combine rounds with a decent drizzle of oil and a little drizzle of agave nectar, then sprinkle liberally with cinnamon and salt. Toss with your hands. Place apart on a greased cookie sheet (or parchment paper) and bake on 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes, flipping once halfway through. (This time will vary- I'm using a weird euro-oven.) Keep an eye on them and remove from the oven when they are browned and caramelized. Set aside. (At NYAM there is a nice detailed explanation of the process, with tips and photos for plantain-phobics.)

2.) Next make the sauce. Cook onions in a good dollop of oil over medium heat. Add in cumin, majoram, and a healthy pinch of salt. Cook until fragrant, then add in remaining ingredients, mashing the whole tomatoes as you go. (Be careful with chipotle if you aren't a spicy foods person- your best bet is to start off smaller than my recipe calls for and add in more to taste.) Raise heat to high then remove from heat when sauce starts to bubble. When cool enough, taste and adjust spices if necessary. When cooled, blend with an immersion blender and set aside.

3.) Now make the filling. Heat garlic in oil over medium heat, then add in diced mushrooms when garlic is fragrant. While sauteeing mushrooms, cut cooled, roasted plantain slices into fourths (little triangles) with a sharp knife. When mushrooms are browned, add in black beans and plantain pieces and cook for 2-3 more minutes, until mixed and heated, then remove from heat. Preheat oven to 350.

4.) Now make the enchiladas! Preheat oven to 350 (175 celcius). Spread some sauce onto a large casserole dish (or two small ones) and plop a tortilla in the middle, then flip it over so it gets nice and saucy. Then, add a ladleful of filling mixture, and carefully wrap up. Continue, placing each filled enchilada snugly next to the others for support, until you are finished with all of the tortillas and filling. Ladle some more sauce on top, then cover with tin foil and bake for 30 minutes, plus 10 more without the tin foil. (But watch them- some ovens are hotter than others.)

5.) Serve with leftover enchilada sauce, plenty of sour cream and a side of mango or avocado if desired. (My Mango Avacado Salsa is always a good cool down as well.) Leftovers are also delish. :)

Song of the Day: Bamboleo- Gypsy Kings

More Plantains: BBQ Tofu and Plantain Tacos w/ Avocado Cream
More Mexican: Vegan Mole Power
More Casseroles: Beet, Mushroom and Potato Casserole


Chickpea Cutlets, at last

Chickpea Cutlets w/ savory Apple Sauce

When I first moved to Brussels, I left most of my cooking stuff and cookbooks at home. I figured I was going to live simply and cheaply, and most recipes I use all the time I have memorized. There wouldn't be much point in having all my fanciest recipes, because I would often be poor and by myself, and therefore not eating very fancily. But oh, I was wrong.

Not about the poor, by myself, or not-eating-fancy part, but in thinking that I could even go a month without trying a new recipe, or flipping through my beloved cookbooks over breakfast for the zillionth time. Reading human rights textbooks is just simply not as much fun. Thankfully, my little brother brought a few more cookbooks with him when he came, including my beloved Veganomicon. And while I don't have the resources to make my favorite potato-kale enchiladas, there's a whole other host of recipes I have never tried before that are well adapted to my pantry here. For example, the charming low-fat banana bread is a lovely thing to do with bananas in the off-chance that you aren't making banana pancakes. (Which, by the way, may just be the most popular thing I make in Berlin other than bagels- these people simply do not have access to world class pancakes here.)

I also finally made the lentil soup, which was decent the first day, but as noted in the book, phenomenal later. I enjoyed it with some leftover matzoh and some tabasco. (Weird? Who cares.) Very healthy and yummy recipe for when its springtime but still chilly outside.

But by far the most exciting thing I've tried in my rediscovered treasure is the Chickpea Cutlets! These are like, the most famous thing in the vegan blogosphere, and I've long wanted to try them, but never had all the ingredients at the same time. Oh man, what on earth was I waiting for? Simple to prepare, chewy and crunchy and juicy, they were perfect alongside some mushroom-laced pasta sauce over spaghetti. S. and I enjoyed this ravishing dinner alongside an episode of Mad Men, our new obsession. (Sexism! Smoking indoors! Skinny Ties!)

Then today I had the leftover cutlet baked and topped with a quick savory apple sauce- thinly sliced apples and shallots sauteed in oil and margarine, with white balsamic vingegar and a splash of apple juice. (Pictured at top.) Reminded me of a meat dish my mother used to make for dinner parties as a kid, and it was so fast and good! I'm considering making another batch of these versatile cutlets to eat for the next few days while I work on these dreadful final papers...

Veganomicon, what a classic.