I already know what you're going to say. "Butternut squash in an enchilada?! Have you forgotten your raisin' girl?" But there's logic — in addition to damn tasty enchiladas — behind this idea; just hear me out. Do you remember the Native American story of the Three Sisters? Well, it refers to the three agricultural crops — specifically corn, squash, and beans — that grow so well together and create a complete vegetarian protein. In many Native communities, these plants were often grown together, as the corn and its stalks created a structure for the beans to climb, which, in turn, provided much-needed nitrogen for the soil. The squash, with its large shady leaves that grow and crawl like wildfire, provided ground cover and weed control. And the various amino acids in the beans and squash help the body break down the nutrients that we couldn't otherwise access in the corn.
If you serve these enchiladas with a side of beans — and just FYI, to do otherwise is considered blasphemy south of the Red River — and there you have a complete plate. Sweet, food scholar logic.
And I know you're still thinking, "but are these some kind of fancy vegetarian-friendly enchiladas?" Well, yes, they are, but they are much, much more than that. When the roasted squash is baked with the shredded cheese, it creates this gooey filling that is so perfectly met with the acidic spice of the red sauce that you will never want plain ol' cheese enchiladas ever again. I'm almost hesitant to tell you, but in addition to all this, you are also eating a serving or two of a vegetable you might not otherwise eat. And I think it's high time I tell you that I, The Young Austinian, do not like squash of any kind. But with enough cheese and a distracting American folklore introduction, I'll eat just about anything.
Since these take a bit of assembling, you can easily make these ahead of time (saving the last step) and refrigerate until ready to use (up to a day or so). The sauce is also easily made in advance and frankly tastes good on just about anything vaguely Tex-Mex related. These butternut squash enchiladas would also make a fitting, and filling, vegetarian entrée for any of the turkey averse at Friendsgiving or Thanksgiving gatherings.
- 1 medium-sized butternut squash, peeled, cored, and cut into small quarter-inch cubes
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Colby or monterey jack cheese, shredded
- 8-10 corn tortillas
- Red sauce
- Cilantro, for garnish
- Homemade Red Sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons neutral oil
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 heaping tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
- Set the oven to 400°F.
- Toss the butternut squash pieces with olive oil and spread evenly over a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and cumin. Roast until tender and slightly browned, tossing halfway through, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and reset the temperature to 350 °F.
- In a medium-sized bowl, toss together the roasted butternut squash pieces and the cheese.
- Heat a tablespoon or so of neutral oil in a skillet over medium high heat. When the oil is shimmering, gently lay a single tortilla in the skillet. Cook for a few seconds on each side, remove, and keep warm (like on a covered plate near the oven). Continue with remaining tortillas. Always cook one or two extra in case you accidentally tear one.
- Pour about a 1/2 cup of red sauce into the bottom of a square or rectangle baking pan. Hold a single tortilla flat in your palm. Spread about 2 tablespoons of squash-cheese filling in a line across the middle of the tortilla. Gently roll from one edge to another and place seam side down in the pan. Continue with remaining tortillas and filling. Top with the remaining red sauce, sprinkle with a little cheese, and place into oven, baking for about 20 minutes until warmed through and the cheese has melted. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve immediately.
- For the red sauce: Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium high heat. When the oil is shimmering, sprinkle the flour and spices into the pan, whisking constantly. Cook for another 20 to 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste, continuing to quickly whisk for another 15 seconds or so to avoid burning the mixture. This will create a kind of spice blob in the bottom of your pan. While continuing to whisk, gently add the broth. Continue to stir until the mixture is smooth. Bring to a quick boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer for about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Main Dishes
- North American
- Serves 4