Saturday, August 1, 2009

Corn, White Bean, Poblano and Zucchini Enchiladas with Pumpkin Seed Salsa

We were in a Mexican food mood tonight. Well, to be more specific I was in a Mexican food mood tonight, since it is difficult to get my husband to express any opinion on what he wants for dinner. He did choose white beans over black beans today but that was the extent of his involvement. Initially I was going to make empanadas tonight, but then I got lazy and dinner turned into enchiladas (sorry about that). Since I have not posted a healthy whole-wheat empanada yet I will do that soon.

I used corn tonight because it is in season and local. The beans were added for fiber and protein. The poblano pepper was a much heat as I thought my elderly parents could tolerate (my husband and I would have liked much more). The zucchini was included to add bulk to the enchilada without a lot of calories. Pumpkin seeds are such a traditional Mexican item they seemed appropriate tonight. You can’t have Mexican food without cilantro … so it went it too. The chia seeds were used for their omega 3 content and because they are a great fat replacer in dressing type applications. Not to mention they are high in omega 3’s which fight inflammation and cancer.

None of the reasons I added items sounds very technical, and it shouldn’t. I cook completely by instinct. I have had many friends ask me why I combine different things or add things and the answer is normally “I have no idea I just wanted to use it”. I think this is what happens when you have cooked for 30 years as I have. I almost always make recipes up as I go along. After years of friends asking me for recipes I decided it made sense to start a blog. It is much easier than emailing recipes to people everyday. My husband was thrilled when I started the blog because he can see what he is having for dinner from work, and it reminds him of things that he really liked so he can ask me to make it again. I hope what you are getting from this is that cooking is more art than science. Once you learn what foods go together and how different things react (like chia seeds, agar, etc.) under various conditions (hot or cold temperatures) the rest of cooking is just playing in the kitchen.

I have one food book that I love and use every week. That book is Culinary Artistry. It is a wonderful book that outlines which foods combine well in terms of flavor. If you don’t have a copy pick it up the next time you are at the bookstore or library and see what it is all about. I have found it to be the most useful book in my kitchen and given the hundreds of books on food and cooking that I have, that is saying something.

Corn, White Bean, Poblano and Zucchini Enchiladas with Pumpkin Seed Salsa
Serves 4 hearty appetites

Enchilada Ingredients:

½ tablespoon of canola oil
1 poblano pepper, stem and seeds removed, finely chopped
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 cups of zucchini, finely chopped
2 ears of corn, kernels removed
1 roasted red pepper, finely chopped
2 cups of white beans, drained
½ teaspoon of kosher salt
½ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon of ancho chili powder
½ teaspoon of oregano, dried
4 whole-wheat roll ups (or tortillas)

Enchilada Sauce Ingredients:

15 ounce can of tomato sauce
½ teaspoon of ancho chili powder, or to taste
1 clove of garlic, grated – optional
½ teaspoon of cumin seed, toasted and ground - optional

Pumpkin Seed and Cilantro Salsa Ingredients:

1 teaspoon of white chia seeds, finely ground
1/4 cup of water, filtered
1 clove of garlic, grated
¼ teaspoon of cumin seed, toasted and ground
1/3 cup of fresh cilantro
juice for ½ lime, or to taste

Cucumber Salad Ingredients:

3 cucumbers, quartered and thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into bite size strips
½ cup of fresh tomatoes, cut into bite size pieces
4 tablespoons of acid (lime juice, lemon juice, sherry vinegar, or red wine vinegar), or to taste
oregano, to taste
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ cup of fresh cilantro, minced


In a heavy bottomed skillet (preferably cast iron) cook the peppers and onions in the canola oil until the pepper skin is blistered and the onion is softened. Add the remaining ingredients and cook until the vegetables have given up their liquid. Allow the mixture to cool so that you can fill the enchiladas without getting burned.

To fill the enchiladas I place the tortilla (or whatever thin flat bread you are using) in the pan I am going to bake in. Next place ¼ of the filling in the flat bread and gently roll the flat bread around the filling with the seam ending on the bottom. Continue until all four flat breads are filled.

Open the can of tomato sauce and add the chili powder and grated garlic (if using) to the can and stir to thoroughly combine. Top the filling enchiladas with the sauce. Sprinkle the top of the sauce with the cumin (if using). Place the baking dish in the oven at 350 for at least 30 minutes. If the to is beginning to brown and the edges of the flat bread are starting to crisp the enchiladas are ready to come out of the oven. If you aren’t certain you can use a thermometer to check the internal temperature (you want at least 180 degrees on the inside).

To make the salsa, add chia seeds to the water in a measuring cup and stir to thoroughly combine. It will take 15 minutes or so for the seeds to absorb all the water and the mixture to get thick. Process the pumpkin seeds in the your food processor until they are completely ground. Add the chia seeds, garlic, cilantro and cumin to the food processor and pulse until everything is homogeneous. Place the pumpkin seed salsa in the refrigerator in the covered dish until needed.

For the cucumber salad, toss the cucumber, tomato and bell pepper with the acid, to taste. Add oregano, salt and pepper to taste and refrigerate until needed. Add the fresh cilantro just before serving.

Place the enchilada on the plate, top with the pumpkin seed salsa and serve the cucumber salad along side.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 477.46
Calories From Fat (13%) - 63.54

Total Fat - 7.9g
Saturated Fat - 1.22g
Cholesterol- 0mg
Sodium - 1231.21mg
Potassium - 1964.91mg
Total Carbohydrates - 88.67g
Fiber - 21.59g
Sugar - 13.31g
Protein - 27.95g


I know this isn’t going to sound right …. but did you see those nutritional stats? I was so psyched by the numbers (that is my finance geekiness coming out a little I fear). The fat percentage was perfect for the Life Over Cancer book (happy dance occurring at my house). Add to that over 21 grams of fiber and almost 28 grams of protein. I am one happy girl let me tell you. How can you not love a meal with those statistics that also tastes great? I know we loved it. Even my opinionated 80year old omnivore parents enjoyed it. We didn’t have any leftovers (not one bite).

Now you all know my favorite kitchen book what is yours? Do you have a favorite cookbook? I would love to know what it is and why you like it.

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