15/03/2006

Enchiladas

(serves about 4 people)

8 flour tortillas

1 tblsp olive oil

250g (1/2lb) minced beef or other ground meat
OR 150g frozen spinach, thawed and drained

400g can pinto or black beans, drained
OR equivalent cooked dried beans (any kind)

1-2 onions, chopped
2-3 clove garlic, crushed
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
¼-½ teaspoon chili powder
1 medium can (about 1 cup) tomato puree, fresh or processed
100g (4 oz) grated cheese (about 1 cup when grated)

Method:
Gently stir-fry the onions and garlic in the oil, until almost translucent. Add the chopped pepper with the cumin and chili powder, and stir for a minute, then add the mince, if used, and mix in over the heat until cooked.

Add in the beans and mix well, crushing a few of them, and then the spinach, if used. Simmer together for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally, until well-mixed without any extraneous liquid.

For each tortilla, put a generous heaped tablespoon of the mixture lengthways in the centre. Roll up and place in a greased or non-stick dish with the end of the roll at the bottom. Repeat for all the other tortillas, using up all the meat or spinach mixture. They should fit fairly tightly in the dish, so the enchiladas do not unroll.

Cover with the tomato puree or sauce, and then top with grated cheese. Put in a hot oven (about 180C) for about 15-20 minutes until the cheese is melted and the enchiladas heated thoroughly.

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If you do not want to use ready-made tortillas, you can make your own wheat tortilla wraps; they are a bit time-consuming, but worth the effort. If you make the dough before starting the enchiladas, you can then roll them while the meat or spinach mixture is simmering, and then remove that from the heat while you cook the tortillas.

There are many variations on this basic enchilada recipe. Adjust the chili powder to taste, of course. You can use cooked lentils in place of the mince or spinach if you prefer, or you can can add some tomato sauce into the cooked mixture. If you have some leftover bolognese or chili con carne, either meat-based or vegetarian, you can use those in place of the filling. If you have leftover vegetables in the fridge, they can mix in too.

You can make a simple tomato sauce by taking about 800g fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped, or the contents of two 400g cans of tomatoes, and simmering with a little chili powder and garlic until well reduced. At the other extreme, you could use a jar of ready-made pasta sauce instead of tomato puree over the enchiladas before topping with cheese. As with any recipe, it's best to adapt to your family's tastes, whatever they are.

This is good to serve with a green salad, sweetcorn and tzatsiki, or with stir-fried cabbage and peas.

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