Zucchini Beef Enchiladas
with Southwestern Red Chile Sauce
Zucchini - so versatile and the main player in this version of Beef Enchiladas!
Zucchini is a quite neutral in its flavor and blends itself well into many dishes -- Italian, Mexican, Greek. My beef version of these Mexican-flavored beef enchiladas was inspired by this recipe, which was made with chicken. The link provides a lovely video tutorial, so you will want to check it out.
When I made this recipe for my husband, his first response was, "Weird," then, "It looks interesting," and finally, "That was really good!" It was a little putzy to make, but rolled enchiladas made from corn tortillas, is putzy, too. Was it worth the prep time? Definitely! And with zucchini in season, I will be making this again, as the flavor is delicious. You will feel so good after eating these enchiladas made with zucchini tortillas!
Zucchini Beef Enchiladas
Makes 8-12 enchiladas
Inspired by a recipe from www.delish.com
When choosing your ingredients, use home-grown, grass-fed and organic ingredients whenever possible.
1 lb hamburger
1-2 TBSP olive oil, optional (see directions)
1 cup chopped onion
3-4 garlic cloves, freshly pressed
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp chili powder
2 cups Southwestern Red Chile Sauce (scroll down for the recipe)
2 zucchini, approximately 10-12” long (1 lb each - do not use overly large, pulpy, seedy zucchini)
1 ½ - 2 cups (5-7 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
Directions: (Refer to photo collage above for clarification)
Prepare the Southwestern Red Chile Sauce (recipe below). Set aside.
To prepare the filling: Brown the hamburger in a skillet, adding 1-2 TBSP olive oil if your burger is especially lean. Add the chopped onion, garlic cloves, cumin and chili powder and cook 5 minutes more. Set aside.
To prepare the “tortillas”: Trim the ends of the zucchini, then using a serrated peeler, slowly and evenly peel down the length of the zucchini, creating long, thin slices. Discard the first slice or two, which will be too narrow and unusable. You will need 24-36 long slices total. I've given a range, because zucchini size may vary.
To form the tortilla: Lay 3 slices of the zucchini on your cutting board, alternating the wide and narrow ends of the slices and overlapping each piece approximately ½”.
To fill the tortilla: Scoop ¼ cup of the meat filling and put it 2” from the end of the zucchini slices (at the right end if you are right-handed), spreading the filling to fill the 3 overlapped zucchini pieces (see photo). To roll the enchilada, begin at the end where the filling is, using both hands, gently ease the end of the zucchini pieces up and over the filling, and roll to the oppose end. Using a spatula, gently lift the enchilada and place in the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish that has been brushed lightly with olive oil. Complete this process until all the filling is used up and the casserole dish is filled.
Spoon 1 cup of the red chile sauce over the top of the enchiladas. Sprinkle with grated cheese and bake for 20 minutes in a preheated 350° oven, or until cheese is melted.
Garnish with sour cream and cilantro and serve with a fresh green salad on the side.
Southwestern Red Chile Sauce
Makes 2 cups (16 oz)
Adapted from a recipe by www.afamilyfeast.com
Use home-grown, grass-fed and organic ingredients whenever possible.
If you look at the ingredients on a can of enchilada sauce, you will quickly run to your pantry to grab ingredients and make this homemade sauce! Easy to do, and far superior in flavor, too! This sauce reminds me of the Mexican food we enjoyed while living in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and was inspired by a recipe from this website (Southwestern Red Chile Sauce). I suggest you make double -- or triple -- of this recipe and freeze in portions, to easily repeat this recipe.
2 TBSP olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 TBSP garlic, freshly pressed
2 TBSP red chili flakes (not chili powder)
2 TBSP ground cumin
2 TBSP oregano
2 TBSP tomato paste
2 tsp salt
2 cups chicken broth (homemade is best!)
Heat the oil in a 1- or 2-quart saucepan, add the onions and sauté for 3-5 minutes.
Add the garlic and remaining spices and sauté another 2-3 minutes.
Add the chicken broth and bring sauce to a simmer. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Using a stick blender, puree the mixture until smooth (or do this in a blender, but please follow blender instructions for pureeing hot liquids). This is an important step, to make a perfectly smooth sauce.
Use immediately or make a double or triple batch and freeze to use in future recipes.
If you prefer more of a tomato-y taste to your enchilada sauce, substitute crushed tomatoes for the chicken broth.
Makes 2 cups of sauce.
Home cooking, at its best!