Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Potato-chickpea enchiladas with green tomatillo sauce

September 17, 2011
We did a fair bit of thinking about what to make for the VegMel picnic before settling (as we almost always do) with me making a savoury dish and Cindy making something sweet. In keeping with the VegMel theme, we dug recipes out of other blogs - I went with these potato and chickpea enchiladas from Veganise This (originally from Viva Vegan).

First things first: this is a lot of work - you've got to make two different sauces, the enchilada filling, assemble the dish and then bake it all in the oven. I reckon I spent three hours on a Saturday afternoon putting it all together. The two sauces are fantastic - the pine nut crema brings a creamy cheesiness that belies its vegan-ness and the tomatillo sauce has a tangy sharpness that had me really looking forward to tasting the final dish. The enchilada filling is hearty, but even with all the spices that go into it, its flavours end up a bit overwhelmed by the sauces (particularly with my heavy-handed pouring approach).

Was the final dish worth all the work? Maybe. It went down a treat at the picnic, but I think serving it fresh from the oven might be a better option than at room temperature the day after. The tortillas had lost their cylindrical shape and the everything was a bit smushed together. I'm not sure if we'll make it again - there are so many inspiring recipes in Viva Vegan that it might be a while before I can justify the time on it.

Pine nut crema
(all recipes are based on recipes from Terry Hope Romero's Viva Vegan)

300g silken tofu
1/2 cup pine nuts
juice of a lime
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons corn flour
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt

Blend all the ingredients together and add more salt and/or lime juice as required.

Green tomatillo sauce

500g can tomatillos
(the Viva Vegan recipe uses fresh tomatillos but I have no idea where to get them in Melbourne)
3 cloves garlic, minced
A few pickled jalapeno pieces, chopped finely
(replacing fresh jalepenos - where can you get these in Melbourne?)
1 brown onion, chopped finely
1/2 cup coriander leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups vegie stock
2 teaspoons sugar

In a blender, whizz the tomatillos with the garlic, chilli, onion and coriander to a paste.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and then add the tomatillo mixture. Bring it to the boil, stirring occasionally.

Add in the vegie stock and stir well. Bring the mixture back up to the boil and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until it's thickened up a bit. Stir through the sugar and salt to taste.

Potato-chickpea enchiladas with green tomatillo sauce

400g waxy potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1cm cubes
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 dried pasilla chilli, soaked in water for 10 minutes and then chopped finely (this replaces roasted serrano chillies and was based solely on me getting carried away at Casa Iberica)
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 red onion, diced
2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon epazote
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup vegie 'chicken' stock
400g can of chickpeas, drained, rinsed and roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste
8 corn tortillas

Put the potato in a saucepan and just cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and cook over high heat for 15-20 minutes, until the spuds are tender. Drain.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

Fry the garlic in the peanut oil until it sizzles and then add in the chillies, onion, oregano, epazote and cumin and fry, stirring regularl for about five minutes. The onion should be nice and soft.

Add in the potatoes and the chickpeas and stir everything together. Pour in the stock and cook, stirring, until the stock has reduced down a fair bit (5-10 minutes).

Roughly mash the mixture to create a chunky mush for the filling, and season with salt and pepper.

Pour 1 cup of the tomatillo sauce into a flat pie dish and lightly grease a baking tray (ours was about 40cm x 20cm x 3cm).

You have to make your enchiladas one at a time: quickly fry a tortilla in a lightly oiled pan so that it's nice and flexible (30 seconds or so on each side). When it's ready, dunk it thoroughly in the sauce dish so that both sides are nice and covered. Pop the tortilla in the baking tray, spoon a generous amount of filling in a line down the middle and roll it tightly. Repeat for the rest of the tortillas until you've got a row of neatly packed enchiladas taking up your whole pan.

Pour the remainder of your tomatillo sauce over the top and then dollop the pine nut crema on top of that.

Cover the baking tray with foil and cook for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and keep baking for another 15 minutes or so. If you're up for it, you can finish off with a couple of minutes under the grill to brown the pine nut crema up a bit.


  1. I agree that it's a time consuming recipe and although I have made these enchiladas a few times, it has never been in the one cooking session! The sauces and even the filling can be made in advance if you want to lighten the workload on the day.

    I thought the enchiladas worked well at room temperature but they are even nicer out of the oven. It's impressive that you blogged the full recipe, I was too lazy to do that! It was great to meet both of you at the potluck! :D

  2. Ah no!!!!! I can't believe I didn't taste these - didn't really get around the savoury food very well at the picnic but have been wanting to try these - have even just bought a tin of tomatillos last week - and if it takes you 3 hours it will probably take me all day with sylvia about - I probably need to make it in stages - one day!

  3. Hi Mel! It was great to meet you too. I'd still like to try this fresh outta the oven, so hopefully I can convince Michael that we should repeat it one weekend. :-)

    Johanna - I'm sure you'll find something a little less labour-intensive for your tomatillos. This recipe was pretty good, from memory!

  4. Did you guys use the epazote called for in the recipe? i've never seen it in the shops and am quite keen to try it out, as so many mexican recipes call for it...

  5. Hi Stru! If I am not mistaken, we have a massive bag of it from Casa Iberica - already a half-share from a friend. I'd be happy to send a sample your way. :-)