Thursday, May 11, 2017

Beef, Zucchini and Spinach Enchiladas

Is there really a more beautiful sight?

I am so obsessed with this recipe and I hope you will be, too! These are Beef, Zucchini and Spinach Enchiladas, and they are equal parts creamy, cheesy, spicy and dreamy.

Every now and then (read: fairly often) I get these random dinner cravings that will haunt me for days and days until finally I am speeding down to the grocery store to whip it up for dinner. This week, that craving was enchiladas! Who would have thought in the second week of May, when the sun is supposed to shining and spring fever is supposed to be upon us, I'd be craving this ultimate comfort food?!

Well, here in Boston the weather has been every bit as confusing. Warm and sunny in the morning, gray and cool in the evenings. To deal with this, I decided to load up my rich and wonderful enchiladas with one of spring's best vegetable bounties - zucchini!

When I make enchiladas at home, there are a few basic components I hardly ever change. First, I like to use whole wheat flour tortillas. There are two reasons for this - first, they have just enough extra girth compared to their white counterparts and are far larger and more pliable than corn tortillas, making them the perfect vessel for chunky, rich, saucy fillings. Second is, when using the taco size, I find that 6 enchiladas perfectly fill up my 9x13 pan. The other thing I always do is make a homemade enchilada sauce, usually a red sauce, that is so so easy it would be foolish to use those canned sauces from the store! Not only does this guarantee that the spice level is up to snuff for my family, but it also means I know exactly what my enchiladas are swimmin' in, and that is such a win-win these days!

As for the creamy and cheesy factor, this particular batch of enchiladas is not lacking in any way. If I may, a bit of cream cheese (*heart eyes emoji*) and sour cream get stirred into our beefy filling (which also happens to be PACKED with vegetables but trust me you could hardly tell). Then to top it all off - grated. pepper. jack. cheese. So much yes! No cheese melts as beautifully as a jack cheese, and the extra kick from the peppers in the cheese balances everything just right.

This makes 3 servings of 2 enchiladas each, that is if you're willing to share. If you snuck a third roll, your secret is safe with me - I know, they are impossible to resist.

Here's what you need for Beef, Zucchini and Spinach Enchiladas* (Print Recipe!)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 pound lean ground beef
1 large zucchini, diced
2 cups baby spinach, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
4 ounces low fat cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
2 scallions, sliced thinly (white and light green parts only)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons up to 1 tablespoon chipotle chilis in adobo sauce, depending on your desired spice level (I use probably about a tablespoon but only use the sauce rather than an actual chili, which can also bump up the spicy factor)
1 14.5 ounce can tomato sauce
3/4 cup chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
6 whole wheat flour tortillas, taco size
1 1/2 cup grated pepper jack cheese, divided
extra cilantro and sour cream for garnish

Here's what you do

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x13 glass baking dish with vegetable oil or cooking spray.

In a large, heavy-bottomed saute pan with high sides, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute 2 minutes until translucent. Add the ground beef and cook until brown and crumbled, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the zucchini and cook another 3 minutes or so until just starting to brown; toss in the spinach and cook until wilted. Season with 1 tablespoon chili powder and 1 teaspoon cumin. Remove beef mixture from the pan into a large bowl, straining out any excess water or fat. Immediately add the cream cheese, sour cream, cilantro and 1/2 cup grated pepperjack and stir until melted and combined.

Wipe the pan clean with a paper towel then add the garlic and saute for 1 minute over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Add the chipotle chilis in adobo and stir just until fragrant. Add the tomato sauce, chicken broth, remaining 1 tablespoon chili powder and remaining 1 teaspoon cumin. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5 to 7 minutes until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat.

Spread 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce on the bottom of the pan. Prepare the enchiladas by spooning a couple of heaping tablespoons of the filling into each tortilla. Wrap tightly, being sure to keep most of the filling inside. Place seam-side down in the baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Pour the rest of the sauce over the top, spreading evenly. Sprinkle the remaining cup of cheese on top. Bake for 25 minutes until the cheese is melted, the sauce is bubbling and the edges are just starting to brown.

Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Sprinkle over extra cilantro and serve immediately with generous dollops of sour cream on top.

*Gas Stove Girl Original Recipe, sauce barely adapted from Skinnytaste

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