Friday, February 6, 2015

Enchilada Lasagna Verde

I'm not completely satisfied with the title, but this dish, which properly seems a combination of lasagna and enchiladas, savory layers of filled corn tortillas, creamy cashew sauce, and tangy tomatillo sauce deserves a fancy name of some sort. My desire is to mash the names together. Who has ever heard of enchilasna? Or Lasagnadas? I'm accepting submissions.

Anyway, as with so many great things, this dish came together as a sort of accident. I would normally make enchiladas and lasagna (separately, erstwhile) in a 9x13 pyrex pan. Sadly, that pan didn't make it on my recent move. (What's with pyrex, anyway? Is it impossible to clean? Or am I just hopelessly inept at doing so?) My current casserole dish is a lovely, oval-shaped white dish with a lid. I like it a lot, but it does introduce some variables into the construction of traditionally square or rectangular meals. Still, my dish is deeper than the usual 9x13 pans, which also provides some flexibility and room for innovation. And innovate I did!

I did cheat a little bit. I made the tomatillo sauce and the filling from scratch, but I had the cashew cream sauce already. I had accidentally made a double batch of the cheezy-sauce from this Cauliflower Cheese recipe, so I had that (uncooked) in a tupperware. I cooked it in a saucepan for a few minutes, just to activate the cornstarch and thicken up a bit, then added it to the enchiladas as I describe below.

If you are feeling fusiony but directionless, you could do worse than these enchilasnas. Also, if you're like me and abhor canned enchilada sauces, it's difficult to beat a homemade verde sauce.

Enchilada Lasagna Verde Casserole

Verde Sauce

1 1/2 pounds fresh tomatillos, diced
1/2  sweet onion, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced finely
2 cloves garlic
2 cups vegetable broth

Enchilada Filling

1 medium butternut squash, diced
1 can black olives, sliced
2 cans black beans
1/2 onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves
1 T chili powder

To assemble:

12-15 corn tortillas
cashew cream sauce
chopped, fresh cilantro

First, make the verde sauce. In a medium saucepan, saute onions and garlic in a little olive oil for 2-3 minutes. Add the jalapenos and cook for 1 minute. Add diced tomatillos and cook for about 2 minutes or until they start breaking down. Add vegetable broth and simmer for 10-15 minutes. If you are lucky enough to have an immersion blender, this is the time to break that out. If not, dump the the sauce into your blender or food processor and blend until it's still a bit chunky. Transfer the sauce back to the saucepan and taste for salt. Adjust seasonings as desired. (See? So easy! Why would you ever use one of those horrid pre-made sauces?)

While the sauce is cooking, preheat your oven to 375. Spread the squash, onion, and garlic on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and salt lightly, then mix to coat. Roast for approximately 30 minutes, stirring once, or until squash is tender and looks slightly caramelized. One could, of course, do this step on the stove instead, but I like the sweetness that roasting brings out in the squash. If you are anti-roasting, adjust as necessary.

In a large bowl, combine beans and olives. Add squash mixture and stir to combine. Now, assemble your enchilasnas!

Ladle about a  cup of sauce into the bottom of your deep casserole dish. Spread it around to coat the pan evenly. Next, scoop about 1/4 cup of the filling into a tortilla and roll, then arrange, seam down, in the pan. When you have a layer of filled tortillas, cover with half the remaining sauce, then half the cheezy sauce. Repeat with the second layer.

Bake in your 375 degree oven for 40 minutes, then let it stand for 10 minutes before serving.

I don't think the picture does this dish justice, but trust me. Don't let my lack of facility with all things visual undermine the yumminess the of the enchilasna.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Whole Wheat Waffles

I feel like I've been chasing waffles all my life. Well, not ALL my life, but certainly an unhealthy portion of my adult one. For no other reason, really, than that they have been so stupidly elusive. I loved waffles when I was a kid and my mom would make them. Every once in a while, we would have waffles for dinner. She would make a great big batch and the table would be covered with toppings--warmed-up frozen berries and strawberries, Cool Whip, and peanut butter, alongside the usual butter and syrup. As an adult, though, in spite of having gone through no fewer than... 3? 4? waffle irons, I never found one that did the trick. Some would work fairly well initially, only to prove harder and harder to clean. The waffles would release from the iron only if I was careful to apply oil between batches, and the accumulating oil gunked up the waffle maker until not only did I not want to make waffles but I didn't even want to touch the thing.

Then, just about one month ago, C's mom asked for a specific waffle maker for her birthday, so we got it for her. We gave it to her while we were visiting just after Christmas and made the first batch of waffles on it a few days later. My in-laws were very sweet about suffering the vegan waffles, and I took a huge risk by trying a new recipe. I mean, to be fair, pretty much all the recipes are new recipes (because of the legacy of failure just described). I made this recipe. To my delight, the waffles were a hit. Crisp on the outside and moist on the inside, dense and wholesome, if more than a little heavy. Even C and I could only power through one a piece, and we can routinely eat our omni friends under the table. We had such a good experience, though, that we purchased our very own of the same iron after returning home. I repeated the experience with the same recipe and the waffles were again delicious and released easily from the pan, so no flukes so far.

Of course, I continued to click on vegan waffle recipes, though, and I found a new recipe I wanted to try. So on a Saturday afternoon, following a quick trip downtown for a haircut (for C) and a library visit (for me), I whipped up a batch for lunch. We were delighted with the results. These waffles are much lighter than the first recipe, even fluffy! The recipe creator warns against using all whole wheat if you are unaccustomed to that sort of thing, but either that was not a problem at all or my palate has shifted so much that I am not to be trusted. I made a few adjustments to the original, so I'll give you the link and detail the recipe as I made it. If you are on the hunt for a healthy vegan waffle recipe, you can stop looking. Unless you are obsessed with waffles, like I am, in which case you will never stop looking.

Healthy Vegan Whole Wheat Waffles

(Slightly adapted and modified from the brilliant Vegan Family Recipes blog.)

2 1/2 C whole wheat pastry flour
2 T baking powder
2 T unrefined cane sugar
1/2 - 1 t salt
1 1/2 C unsweetened almond milk
1 C water (warm!)
1/3 C melted unrefined coconut oil
2 T ground flax seed
2 T chia seeds
6 T cold water

In a small bowl, combine flax and chia with 6 T of cold or room-temperature water. Stir a few times to combine well and then let sit for a few minutes while you measure everything else.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. By this time, your flax and chia mixture should be pretty gelled. Add the melted coconut oil. In a separate bowl, combine milk and warm water, then add the milk mixture to the coconut oil and chia/flax. The point of all these shenanigans with the different bowls is to avoid dumping cold milk into melted coconut oil. Coconut oil wants to be solid, so keeping your wet ingredients on the warm side should prevent any unpleasantness with chunks of solid coconut oil floating in your otherwise lovely batter.

Mix the wet into the dry just until combined and set the batter aside to rest for 10 minutes. Toward the end of that 10 minutes, plug in your waffle iron. Make waffles! I don't have to tell you how to do that part, right? The above measurements made 5 crisp and fluffy waffles for me.