Enchiladas, Italian Style (or Mexican Lasagna)

I’ve been trying to make an effort, for both economic and ecological reasons, to use up all of the groceries I purchase each week. (Less waste is better for my wallet AND the environment.) Although I try my best to plan out meals, and not to over-purchase or over cook/make a perishable ingredient, inevitably, by the week’s end, there’s a hodge-podge of ingredients with which to make a meal. The other day, I surveyed my refrigerator and found a corn tortillas, a couple ears of corn, 2 portabellas, jamaican hot peppers, some ricotta and homemade tomato sauce from a pizza I’d made a few days earlier. I also had herbs and scallions growing on my window sill, and a tomato that was at maximum ripeness. What else could I do, but turn these ingredients into enchiladas stuffed with mushrooms, corn and cheese, with a slight Italian flare!

Enchiladas, Italian Style

These actually taste much less “Italian” than you might think. The tomato sauce was easily adapted into a spicy, cumin and cinnamon laced sauce. The tortillas really end up soaking up the ricotta mixture, so that when it comes out of the oven, it resembles a queso fresco. The real lesson from these enchiladas is that improvisation works! Work with what you have on hand!

Italian EnchiladasINGREDIENTS

  • Olive Oil
  • 10 corn tortillas
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and diced
  • Kernels from 2 ears of corn
  • 2 portabella mushrooms, chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 jamaican hot peppers (scotch bonnets), finely chopped
  • 2 cups tomato sauce (this is the recipe for my pizza tomato sauce)
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons cumin (or to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds, freshly ground
  • 2-3 chipotles in adobo, plus some of the adobo sauce
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 3/4 cups of ricotta
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup scallions, chopped

Preheat oven to 375. Lightly coat a skillet or grill pan with olive oil and place on medium heat. Add garlic, and cook for about a minute. Add corn and mushrooms and cook until tender. Salt to taste. Mix with the ricotta and set aside.

Heat a small bit of oil in a large saucepan on medium heat. Add the chopped hot peppers and let cook for about 2 minutes. Add the chopped tomato and lime juice and cook for about 5 more minutes, or until tomatoes are soft. Add the tomato sauce and allow to  warm. Stir in the cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and chipotles with adobo, adjusting to taste. Allow to simmer. At this point, you have a warm chunky salsa. You can leave it this way, or do as I did, and puree it in the food processor. (I also added a little fresh cilantro from my herb pots.)

Now it’s time for assembly. Get a casserole dish ready and coat the the bottom with some of the sauce. Bring a clean skillet to medium heat. (I used cast iron and no oil– you might want a mist of oil in another type of pan.) Warm a tortilla for about 20 seconds on each side, so that it becomes more pliable. Place in the casserole dish and then flip over (so that there is a light coating of sauce on the inside.) Fill with a couple tablespoons of the ricotta-corn-mushroom mixture. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Pour remaining sauce over the filled tortillas. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese and scallions on top. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or when cheese and sauce are bubbling. Serve warm, with mango salsa (we had some left over), and enjoy!