I tried to be a vegetarian last week. I felt the need to completely detox, transition into a more plant-based diet after a week of “last day of work” celebrations. I had high hopes of eating big, leafy, green salads, fresh meals that highlighted Summer’s bounty, and loving it so much that I would just never go back, kind of like when I stopped drinking coffee and switched to tea couple of years ago.
I lasted until Wednesday Night.
But that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy my two and a half days as a meat-less eater. I just really, really like burgers. However short-lived, I still felt really good about my two and a half days, and I think I could at the very least up my veggies and cut down on everything else.
This is one of those dishes that make doing just that very easy. It’s got tofu in it, which I swore as a kid I would never touch, ever, ever. To that I say this: Sorry, Kid Me, but tofu, when surrounded by vegetables, enclosed in a warm tortilla then smothered with cheese, tastes like, well, cheese. As most things smothered in cheese tend to do. It’s wonderful.
Protein packed, cheese smothered, vegetarian goodness? Let’s go.
Start by chopping your vegetables. Anything can go into this, but I used 2 onions, garlic, a bell pepper, and a couple of jalapenos to start.
Into the pan they go with some olive oil. They’re cooked until soft but not browned, then more vegetables are added, like chopped zucchini and fresh corn. Mushrooms would be delicious, too if you had some!
Let that cook for a couple of minutes, until everything is nice and softened. Add your crumbled, drained tofu to the mix and stir everything around.
A note on tofu: it’s confusing. There’s a lot of different types of tofu, not to mention types of “firm tofu.” There’s firm, super firm, extra firm, extra super firm, and I’m sure countless others that I just missed. I bought the one that sounded like it was of medium firmness and drained it by pressing it between two plates to get most of the excess moisture out. Regardless of firmness, I’d do this step. You don’t want your filling to be too wet, lest you have soggy enchiladas. No one wants that. No one.
Now, we season. Paprika, cumin, black pepper, and oregano. Stir that around and add a healthy amount of tomato paste and some soy sauce. Stir the tomato paste around until it’s covered all the vegetables and browned a bit. Taste for seasoning, and add salt if necessary.
And there’s your filling. Not much of a looker, eh? That’s OK, we’re going to pretty it up with some cheese. Take a flour tortilla and add about 1/4 cup of filling in the middle then add a sprinkling of shredded Monterrey Jack cheese.
Roll that up really tight, then place seam side down in a prepared casserole dish. Repeat until you are out of tortillas, filling, or space, whichever comes first. Top generously with shredded cheese.
Into the oven that goes for 15-20 minutes, until the cheese is good and melted. Heat your broiler and place enchiladas under the broiler, watching carefully, just so the cheese gets that nice brown color.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream, some chopped cilantro, and your favorite hot sauce.
I’ll admit, when I tasted the filling by itself I was none to thrilled about the texture of the tofu. But something happens to it in the oven–or maybe it was because I couldn’t see it anymore–but it tastes like melted cheese; like flavorful, spicy, cheese enchiladas. But with a third of the fat and calories. It’s like magic.
The vegetables are flavorful and the spices are spot on. I left some seeds in my jalapeno so it was a little spicy, which was cooled down by the cheese on the inside and the welcome dollop of sour cream on top.
Tofu enchiladas. Believe me, no one was more surprised at how awesome these were than I. But trust me, they’re delicious, nutritious, and make cutting down on one’s carnivorous tendencies a lot easier.
Here’s the recipe!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 2 jalapenos, diced (remove seeds if you’re worried about spice)
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 1 zucchini, chopped
- 1 ear of corn, kernels removed (about 1/2 a cup)
- 2 cakes firm tofu (or extra firm) (or super firm) (I’m so confused), drained and pressed of excess moisture, then crumbled
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
- Flour tortillas (I had 7 so made 7 enchiladas, but there was enough filling for at least 12)
- 1 1/2 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese, divided
- Sour cream, cilantro, and hot sauce for serving
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a casserole or baking dish with foil and set aside.
- Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, bell pepper, and jalapeno and cook for 5 minutes, until softened. Add zucchini and corn and cook for 3 minutes more. Add crumbled tofu and stir to combine. Add seasonings, tomato paste, and soy sauce and cook, stirring to ensure everything is coated in tomato paste, for about 5 minutes more. Taste for seasonings and adjust if necessary.
- Take a flour tortilla and spoon about 1/4 cup of filling into the center. Top with a couple tablespoons of shredded cheese. Roll tightly and place in the pan, seal side down. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Top with remaining cheese (should be about 3/4 to 1 cup of cheese leftover). Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until cheese is completely melted. Heat broiler, and place under broiler for about 3 minutes, watching very closely, to brown the top just slightly.
- Serve with a dollop of sour cream, hot sauce, and chopped cilantro.