Cheese Enchiladas with Green Sauce
Part I: Cheese Enchiladas with Green Sauce
The enchilada is another popular dish that we owe to the Mayans. Corn was the staple crop then, and corn tortillas were the “bread” of the culture. The conquistadors documented a feast that included the original enchilada, which was simply an empty tortilla dipped in chili sauce. Over time that simple fare has evolved into a myriad of recipes that stuff tortillas with various meats or cheeses, smothered in either a red or green sauce. Admitting that he is a dedicated “enchilada-head,” Melissa’s National Sales Manager, Miguel Anaya, submits his own healthy version of the basic cheese enchiladas in a spicy hot green sauce.
“Simply put, I just absolutely love enchiladas!” Miguel declared. “My favorite is Cheese Enchiladas in Green Sauce. At home, I use mozzarella over the traditional Mexican queso blanco cheese that has a very high salt content. I get enough of that when we dine at any of my favorite Mexican restaurants that already know my order when I walk in the door.”
While I will always follow a staff member’s recipe to the letter in this blog, Miguel’s mozzarella ingredient swap spurred me to look up queso blanco. Yikes! One ounce of mozzarella has 175 milligrams of sodium, whereas queso blanco has 396 milligrams! Let the traditionalist whine, my heart health votes for Miguel’s version. Enchiladas with an Italian twist; why not! Besides, this dish is all about the sauce!
Again, departing slightly from the traditional “verde” sauce ingredients, use a mild green chile pepper variety, like Anaheim or poblano, as a base adding a few spicier hot peppers and sometimes a couple of tomatillos for that wonderful tangy flavor. Instead, Miguel flips the taste focus around by starting with a full pound of roasted tomatillos along with several hot peppers and a white onion, both also roasted. Just add garlic and cilantro to this tasty trio, then puree into a spicy blend that covers and infuses into each cheesy enchilada during the bake. Actually, in Miguel’s version, the enchilada is really just the delivery vehicle for his favorite sauce! After all, without this delicious topping, it would be a plate of rolled-up cheese quesadillas or maybe very skimpy taquitos filled with no ambition! This is a great starter recipe for anyone who has only enjoyed enchiladas from a restaurant menu. I would suggest doubling up on the green sauce measurements so that this tasty blend can be used to flavor other dishes. The short ingredient list and simple construction will also prepare the reader for a much more complex enchilada in next month’s Part II of this series with a recipe of a very different color.
Miguel Anaya has been a member of Melissa’s team for over 20 years. He knew nothing of the business of fresh produce when he came aboard, but his enthusiasm and natural produce sense enabled him to learn quickly as he was exposed to three different areas of the business that he now oversees: procurement, store calling and sales.
“The produce business is unique. It takes many years of dogged dedication to learn about it as well as the ability to survive on little sleep and even less home life to be successful at it,” Miguel reflected. “For me, that means living and breathing Melissa’s every day! My wife, Nancy, says she thinks my blood has probably turned carrot orange over the years! As National Sales Manager, I help oversee all our retail, wholesale and international accounts. I work closely with our sales team, procurement team and our regional reps across the country; basically, I help our teams find solutions to keep the business moving along. Every day brings different challenges as well as opportunities that keep it all so very interesting!”
Miguel has been married for 16 years to his best friend, Nancy. The couple has two daughters, twelve-year-old Miranda and Vyanne, who is eleven. Since the produce business can be very much all-consuming, Miguel cherishes spending as much time with his family as possible. Right now, that means making sure he attends all of his daughters’ softball games and being evolved in as much of their childhood as he can, even if that means giving up a few hours of precious sleep. He says he expects to make up those hours when they get into their teens when dads are no longer cool! Not to worry, Miguel, you will always have your green sauce over enchiladas to keep you company! Thanks for the recipe!
Cheese Enchiladas with Green Sauce
Yield: 12 enchiladas
For the Green Sauce:
1-pound tomatillos, husks removed, halved
4 serrano or jalapeño peppers
½ white onion, cut into quarters
4 garlic cloves
½ cup of cilantro
1 tablespoon Knorr chicken bouillon, diluted in 2-ounces water
For the Filling:
12 corn tortillas
3 cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded
Sauce: Place tomatillo, seeded chile peppers and onion in a roasting pan.
Broil on the top rack in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes until lightly charred. Remove from the oven and let cool to touch.
Then place all the sauce ingredients in a blender or processor and purée. Set aside.
In a skillet, heat several tablespoons of cooking oil. Once heated, cook one corn tortilla at a time quickly on both sides, then drain. Place the cooked tortilla on a cutting board, brush lightly with the green sauce, add the shredded cheese to the middle of the tortilla and roll it up.
Spread a little tomatillo sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 casserole, then place each rolled-up tortilla seam side down in the dish.
Once the pan is filled, spread the remaining tomatillo sauce over them and sprinkle generously with the remaining cheese.
Bake at 400°F until the cheese starts to bubble. Remove from oven and top with cilantro leaves. Enjoy!