Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce are Mexican cuisine’s best kept secret. There are two distinct elements nestled within each $2-$3 can: the chipotles, which are smoked and dried rehydrated jalapenos, and the adobe sauce, a tangy, pungent mix of tomato puree, vinegar, garlic, and spices. The result is intense, smoky flavor that’s a one-stop-shop. Chipotle peppers can operate hans solo, no additional spices or seasonings required. However, if you want to add an extra ingredient, they do play well with others. A dollop of plain Greek yogurt can add a rich, creamy taste. Or, in these Butternut Squash Black Bean Enchiladas, the addition of plain, canned tomato sauce and sautéed garlic create an enchilada sauce that’s simply magnificent.
To be perfectly honest, I’ve always been suspicious of enchilada sauce. To me, it fell into the category of processed, salty jarred sauces that accompanied my most abhorred type of food: greasy Mexican. And given that enchiladas are usually doused in cheese and sour cream, I tend to stay away from them and opt for fresher, lighter options. But, this recipe proves my theory wrong. Here, the enchilada “meat” consists of hearty, seasonal butternut squash and cumin-kissed black beans. Oil is scant, and cheese altogether absent—the dish is vegan. Whole-grain corn tortillas add another healthy component, and dousing in the homemade enchilada sauce loads on the flavor, but not the cals. Toppings options are abundant and tailored—my favorites are sliced avocado, minced cilantro, and quartered limes. If you absolutely cannot fathom an enchilada sans cheese, feel free to go ahead and sprinkle some on top. (Cheddar is the obvious choice, but feta is surprisingly good too.)
This dish works perfectly for the holiday time of year. In a season characterized by general frenzy and heavy celebratory eating, these enchiladas are a fresh breath of air that utilize a fresh seasonal ingredient to produce hearty fare that’s surprisingly light. Plus, the prep is easy: a handful of ingredients come together with mindless ease, and the majority of time is just spent cooking the enchiladas in the oven.
Next to taste, my second favorite things about this dish is the texture. A quick spray of olive oil via mister over the tortillas, pre-bake, ensures that they are perfectly crisp on the outside, but flawlessly soft on the side. Though not necessarily pretty after storing, they do keep for a few days, and those extra chipotles can stay refrigerated for months.
Butternut Squash Black Bean Enchiladas (adapted from Minimalist Baker)
For the enchiladas
- 3 cups cubed butternut squash
- 1-2 tsp grape seed or olive oil
- 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- 8 corn tortillas
- Sea salt and black pepper
For the sauce
- 1-2 tsp grape seed or olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
- 2 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce + 2 Tbsp adobo sauce
- ½ cup water (or sub vegetable broth for more flavor)
- Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- Red onion, diced
- Ripe avocado, sliced
- Fresh cilantro, chopped
- Toasted pumpkin seeds
- Lime wedges
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. On a baking sheet, combine butternut squash, 1-2 tsp oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, until squash is tender. Set aside to cool. Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees F.
- While squash is cooking, prepare sauce. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1-2 tsp oil and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is slightly browned and translucent, 4-5 minutes.
- Reduce heat to low. Add tomato sauce, diced chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, and water/vegetable broth to pan. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Transfer sauce to a blender and blend well for a completely smooth sauce (optional). Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Set aside.
- Place same skillet used earlier back over medium heat and add black beans. (Its OK that there will still be some sauce in the pan.) Season with a little salt, pepper, cumin and stir. Once bubbling, remove from heat and add roasted butternut squash and 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce, mixing thoroughly.
- Wrap tortillas in damp paper or cloth towel and microwave to warm for 30 seconds to make more pliable. Pour a bit of sauce into the bottom of 9×13-inch baking dish. Spread to coat.
- Take one corn tortilla and lay it down in the dish. Fill with generous amount of squash-bean filling, then roll up tortilla. Place seam side down at one end of dish. Continue until all tortillas are filled and wrapped, then pour remaining sauce over the top of the enchiladas in a stripe down the middle. Brush/spray the edges of the bare tortillas with oil for crispy edges.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes, or until warmed through. Top with desired toppings and serve. The enchiladas can keep for a few days in the refrigerator.