Nirvana Enchilada Casserole Recipe
Overstuffed veggie dish perfect for Sunday supper
Isa Chandra Moskowitz is a pioneer of delicious vegan cuisine, with a ton of cookbooks under her belt and another superb one, Isa Does It: Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week, just hitting the shelves. Try your hand at her spicy and savory Nirvana Enchilada Casserole, a healthy and flavorful take on the Tex-Mex classic, or watch her make it on Breville's YouTube Channel.
The thing is, enchiladas can be a fussy production. A worth-it production, but a production nonetheless. This version, in casserole form, is a little less so. Don’t get me wrong, it still requires more dishes than you want to clean, but it’s a lot easier than stuffing each tortilla.
Now that I’ve scared all of you poseurs away with that foreboding introduction, I’ll let you in on a little secret: This is ridiculously amazing. Shh! Layers of corn tortilla sopping up spicy, fragrant red sauce, then overstuffed with mushrooms, pinto beans, and roasted potatoes. On top is a voluptuous cashew cream that will have you rolling your eyes to the back of your head like a zombie. An enchilada zombie.
This is definitely a Sunday night supper, but if you want to enjoy it on a weeknight, it can happen. Make the enchilada sauce the night before and be sure to soak your cashews in advance. Everything will come together in a snap! Although there are four components, I tried to keep them all simple enough so that they work together well and don't cause too much grief.
Preparing the potatoes:
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Toss the potatoes with the oil right on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper and toss to coat. Bake for 15 minutes, reduce the heat to 350°F, flip the potatoes and bake for 10 more minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. Leave the oven at 350°F because that is the temp at which the enchiladas need to bake.
Preparing the enchilada sauce:
Preheat a 4-quart pot over medium heat. Dry-toast the cumin and coriander seeds in the pan for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until they’re fragrant and a few shades darker. Just be careful not to burn. Add the oil and sauté the onion, jalapeño, garlic, oregano and a pinch of salt for about 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the tomatoes, agave, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt, cover the pot and turn the heat up to bring to a low boil. Let cook for about 20 minutes.
Once cooked, purée until smooth with either an immersion blender or by transferring to a blender or food processor. If using a blender, intermittently lift the lid to let steam escape so that it doesn’t build up and explode and kill you. Also, note that if you use an immersion blender, you really have to blend a lot to get the seeds to smooth out. Taste for salt and set aside to cool.
For the filling:
Preheat a large pan over medium heat and add the oil. Sauté the onion in the oil with a pinch of salt for about 5 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté just until fragrant, 15 seconds or so. Add the mushrooms and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until the mushrooms have released a lot of their moisture, about 5 minutes. Add the pinto beans and lime juice and cook just until heated through, 2 minutes or so.
Toss the roasted potatoes into the filling mix. Taste for seasoning and set aside.
For the white sauce:
Drain the cashews. Add all of the white sauce ingredients to the blender and purée until completely smooth, anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes depending on the strength of your machine. It’s rather thick, so defi nitely scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula often to make sure you get everything. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Lightly grease a 9 x 13–inch casserole pan. Ladle in a thin layer of enchilada sauce, then layer 6 tortillas into the pan. Now things are going to get a bit messy! Ladle in another layer of enchilada sauce (about 1 cup), and flip each tortilla to smother in the sauce. Each one should be coated, but you should still be able to see the tortilla; that is to say, it shouldn’t be drowning in the sauce. Next, arrange the tortillas so that they’re slightly overlapping and covering the bottom of the pan.
Now add half of the filling and pour on 1/2 cup or so enchilada sauce. Layer in 6 more tortillas and repeat the process of smothering each of them in a cup of sauce. Cover with the remaining filling. Once again pour 1/2 cup enchilada sauce over the filling, and add the final layer of tortillas. Smother those in a cup of sauce. Reserve the rest of the sauce (if any) for serving.
Finally, top with the white sauce. I pour it directly out of the blender and try to ribbon it in thick globs over the top. It doesn’t have to be neat; it will look cute pretty much no matter what.
Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes. The topping should be lightly golden.
Remove from the oven and sprinkle with a handful of pepitas and chopped fresh cilantro if you like. Now it’s ready to serve!
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