Back in the day, and well lets be honest I still hold him in high esteem, Rick Bayless made my favorite Mexican food I’ve ever had. Jackie and I have been to two of his restaurants in Chicago and they’re simply incredible. We’ve done Frontera Fresca in the Macy’s on State Street and XOCO. One absolute must have if you make it there is his Guacamole, simply unreal how good the stuff is. I’m really happy that fits into our vegan category, most of the rest of the food doesn’t quite make it any more. Years ago, we were first introduced to Rick Bayless on a PBS cooking show and he made a Tacuba Style Enchilada. His goal is to make authentic high quality Mexican food that pays homage to its roots/culture instead of the americanized version of Mexican food. After watching the PBS show, we gave the recipe a go. We loved it.
Fast forward to now, I’m sitting around the other day, just dreaming of those enchilada’s and I decided, you know what, I’m going to make those suckers vegan. I have to tell you I made a winner here. They were freaking fantastic. They probably don’t speak as well to the heritage of the original, but they’ll be a staple with us for years to come. (Note: I really should have posted this PRIOR to Cinco De Mayo, but we can’t win everything.)
Tacuba Style Vegan Veggie Enchiladas
Adapted from Rick Bayless original recipe
For the Sauce
2 fresh poblano chiles
2 large handfulls baby spinach leaves (I used about half a bag from the market)
4 cups rice milk
1 heaping tablespoon better than bullion veggie broth seasoning
4 tablespoons Earth Balance
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/2 cup flour
For the Enchiladas
glug of Olive oil to coat the pan
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thin
1/2 Red Onion chopped
1/2 Red Pepper Diced
1 Small Zucchini Diced
1 small tomato diced
4 ounces sliced crimini mushrooms
1 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
5 flour tortillas
1/8-1/4 cut of Teese Nacho Cheese Spread
A little chopped cilantro for garnish
For the Sauce:
Roast the poblanos directly on a baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler (or if you have a gas range you could do this over the burner), turning regularly, until the skins have blistered and blackened on all side, about 5 minutes for an open flame, about 10 minutes under the broiler. Place in a bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and, when you can hold them in your hands, peel off the blackened skin, tear open and pull out the seed pod and stem. Quickly rinse to remove any stray seeds or bits of skin. Roughly chop and put into the blender jar. Add the spinach.
Meanwhile In a medium (3-quart) saucepan, combine the rice milk and bullion, set over medium-low heat to warm.
In a large (4-quart) saucepan, melt the earth balance over medium. Add the garlic and cook for a minute to release its aroma, then add the flour and stir the mixture for a minute, you’ll want the roux to be a paste like consistency. Raise the heat to medium-high. Pour in the warm broth mixture slowly and whisk constantly until the sauce boils. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Pour half the hot sauce into the blender with the chiles and spinach. Cover loosely if you don’t have a vented lid, the Blendtec that I have has vents (remove the center part of the lid, secure the lid, then drape a cloth over the whole thing) and blend until smooth. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining sauce. Taste and season with salt, usually about 2 teaspoons. Additionally I added a bit of fresh cracked pepper, but that would be optional. The sauce will be this fantastic neon green. Note: you’ll have plenty of leftover sauce which freezes well or keeps in the refrigerator for more than one meal of these.
For the Filling:
Coat a large skillet with some olive oil and heat over a medium setting. Once the oil starts to shimmer add the onion and red pepper, cook about 3 minutes until onions are translucent. At this point add the sliced garlic and cook about 1 minute until the garlic has released its aroma. Add the mushrooms and give it all a stir, cook about 5 minutes, you want the mushrooms to get browned and release their moisture. Add the cumin and zucchini and stir allowing to cook about 2 minutes to warm the zucchini, you don’t want it to become a mush. Finally add the tomato, stir and let warm for a minute. Finish with salt and pepper to taste.
Putting it all together:
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Smear about 1 cup of the sauce over the bottom of a 9×11-inch baking dish (This could be made larger in a 9×13, you’d just have to increase the filling and tortillas.) You want the sauce to cover the bottom of the dish.
Warm the tortillas through your preferred method in order to get them pliable. I put mine in a towel in the microwave for about 1 minute. Stack the tortillas and cover with a towel to keep warm.
Working quickly so that the tortillas stay hot and pliable, roll a portion of the vegetable mixture up in each tortilla, then line them all up in the baking dish. Layer on a little bit of the teeze nacho cheese sauce on each roll up, cover with your preference level for sauce. Bake until the enchiladas are hot through (the sauce will be bubbling on top, and the teeze/tortillas will have begun to brown), about 20 minutes, finish with about 1 minute under a hot broiler to get the nice browned cheese like texture. Garnish with the cilantro and serve without hesitation.
This is what mine looked like prior to baking… You can see the photo above for the finished product. Serve warm and eat up, they’re fantastic. A couple of other notes, I found these work really well to make ahead and pop in the fridge and pull them out to do the baking portion. You can just bake them about 10 minutes longer to ensure that they are warmed throughout. Keep covered in foil to prevent burning if doing that way and finish under a broiler as stated before.