Casserole season, too. While I’m not one to revert to eating solely cold salads and watermelon during the summer months – I love my hearty meals and warm foods – I’ve barely used the casserole dish since last spring. Cheesy, spicy, hot and filling, I consider enchiladas especially a cold-weather dish. Now that the fallen leaves are blowing in the streets and we have a fire going nearly every evening to keep out the chill, they seem like the perfect thing.
Make these on a weekend, or a cold evening when spending a while in the heat of the kitchen will be a comfort, not a burden. Enchiladas take time. Fortunately, the beans and the sauce – as well as the assembled casserole – will freeze well, so you can also make extra components of the dish and stow in the freezer for next time. Guacamole is the ideal accompaniment, but you can do like I did and just throw some parsley and minced onions over the top and call it a day. A green vegetable rounds out the meal.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Bean Enchiladas
For the squash:
1 small or 1/2 large butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tablespoon olive or melted coconut oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chile powder
Pinch of salt
1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Toss the squash cubes with oil, cumin, chile powder, and salt. Spread on a sheet pan and place in the oven to roast for about 45 minutes, until the squash is beginning to brown, and a bit dry. Set aside.
For the sauce:
About a quart of crushed tomatoes (1 28 oz. can of whole tomatoes is fine)
1 cup vegetable broth or water
1/2 cup chile powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons olive or coconut oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1. In a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the minced garlic and saute for a minute or two, until the garlic releases its aroma. Add the chile powder and cumin to the pan and mix well, allowing the spices to toast for a minute.
2. Pour the tomatoes and broth or water into the pan, mixing the spices and garlic into them. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, to cook the tomatoes and allow the flavors to blend.
3. Remove pan from heat. In a blender or with an immersion blender, blend the sauce on high until smooth. If it seems a bit thick, you can add more water or broth. If it seems thin, simmer it for a few minutes longer to thicken it up. Set aside.
For the refried beans:
6-8 cups mushroom or vegetable broth, or 4 cups broth and 2-4 cups water
1 lb. dry pinto beans (about 2 cups), soaked for at least a few hours
2 or 3 dried chipotle peppers
6 cloves garlic, minced
Fresh hot peppers to your taste, minced (I used 2 habaneros)
1/4 cup olive or coconut oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon cumin
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1. In a large saucepan, heat 1/4 cup oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and hot peppers and saute until lightly browned. Add cumin to the pan and stir, allowing the cumin to toast for a minute.
2. Add beans, broth or broth and water, and chipotles, and bring the mixture to a boil. Allow to simmer until the beans are soft and beginning to break down, adding more broth or water if necessary, about 1 hour.
3. Remove the dried chipotles and discard. Remove beans from heat. With a potato masher, mash the beans until they are the texture you desire. Stir in the lime juice. Taste and add salt and more lime juice as needed. Set aside.
And for the final dish:
10 corn tortillas
1/2 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Ready a 9×13-inch baking dish.
2. Dip a tortilla in the enchilada sauce. Use two fingers to scrape off the extra sauce. Place a small handful of the squash cubes in the tortilla, and top with a few tablespoons of refried beans. Roll up and place in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, until the baking dish is full.
3. Pour the rest of the sauce over the rolled tortillas, and spread it out with a spatula so that the tortillas are covered evenly. Sprinkle the grated cheese over the sauce.
4. Place the baking dish in the oven and bake until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling. If you like (and I always do), put the enchiladas under the broiler for a moment to brown the cheese before removing from the oven. Once you take them out, you can serve them right away if you don’t mind a big sloppy plate, or you can wait 30 minutes for them to come out of the pan in a more cohesive, attractive manner. Serve with guacamole and a green veggie.