Next time, add tofu to your enchiladas

Mexican cuisine isn’t exactly friendly towards meat-free dishes but that doesn’t mean you can’t make your own substitutions to turn any fatty dish into a…

Who needs meat when you have tofu and cheese? (Shutterstock)

Mexican cuisine isn’t exactly friendly towards meat-free dishes but that doesn’t mean you can’t make your own substitutions to turn any fatty dish into a healthy and delicious vegetarian delight.

Living so close to Mexico and Latin America means there is a constant influx of bold flavors and cooking styles hailing from these historic and cultural places. However, most American adaptations of real Mexican food don’t end up being very real or authentic at all.

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High on the list are enchiladas, a street food dating back to the Aztec Empire and subsequently brought to the States via Mexico. After a few generations of being served and cooked in the states, enchiladas have become engorged versions of the original, consisting of tortillas packed with shredded meat, smothered in sauce and oozing with melted cheese. Now you may think beef enchiladas in this form are filling but they’ll also fill your body with fat and cholesterol that can easily be avoided.

Adding tofu to the ingredient list may seem blasphemous at first, but when done right, the infamous soy-based product can turn what would be a heavy meal into a lighter but equally enjoyable dish.

Mexican cuisine isn’t exactly friendly towards meat-free dishes.

Tofu gets a bad rap for being bland but if used correctly in the right recipe, flavors can pop like never before. (Shutterstock)

Prep time takes about 40 minutes and you’ll have to cook the dish in the oven for 50 minutes so the total is an hour and a half. You’ll end up with 6 enchiladas so depending on how big of an appetite you and whoever you’re serving have, this could be enough for 2 to 4 people.

MATERIALS

  • Chef’s knife
  • Paper napkins
  • 2 cutting boards
  • Measuring cup
  • 2 large skillets
  • Wooden spoon
  • Spatula
  • 9 x 13 baking dish

INGREDIENTS

  • Mexican cuisine isn’t exactly friendly towards meat-free dishes.

    Fresh ingredients make any dish even better. (Shutterstock)

    14 oz. extra firm tofu, drained and cubed

  • 4 tbs. vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, halved
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 tbs. chili powder
  • 1 tbs. ground cumin
  • 6 oz. tomato paste
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 15 oz. tomato sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper (optional)
  • 3 Anaheim peppers, stemmed, seeded and sliced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded and sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
  • 5 cup shredded cheese, any combo of monterey jack, cheddar, cheddar-jack
  • 6 9-inch flour tortillas
  • Half bundle cilantro, loosely chopped
  • 1 med-sized avocado, sliced (optional)

Cooking directions

1. Line cutting board with paper napkins and place tofu on board, layer with napkins and weight with a heavy plate. Doing so removes excess moisture and allows tofu to absorb liquid from skillet.

2. Prep vegetables for red sauce. Dice half the onion and mince the garlic. Add 1.5 tbs. vegetable oil to skillet over medium-high heat and cook until it begins to bubble. Sauté onion and garlic until tender, about 5 or 6 minutes. Then add cumin and chili powder, stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Combine broth, tomato paste and tomato sauce in skillet. Stir until blended and sauce begins to bubble, reduce heat and partially cover and cook for about 30 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, make the filling. Prep the onion, Anaheim and jalapeno peppers. Cut tofu into ½-inch cubes. Then add 1.5 tbs. vegetable oil to second skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until it begins to bubble. Sauté onion, Anaheim and jalapeno peppers until tender, about 5 or 6 minutes. Then add cumin and garam masala, stir until fragrant, about one minute. Bank sautéed vegetables to side of skillet. Then add tofu, cook for about 12 minutes until tofu begins to brown. Combine vegetables and tofu.

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4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, pour about 1/3 of enchilada sauce over vegetables. Occasionally stir ingredients, while the stove warms. Lightly grease baking dish with 1 tbs. oil and 1/3 sauce. Pack tortillas with filling and place in single layer in baking dish. Cover with remaining sauce and shredded cheese. Cook enchiladas for about 12 minutes, or until cheese begins to turn golden brown.

5. Slice avocado and chop cilantro, plate with enchiladas.

Check out other delicious vegetarian and vegan recipes at Mother Nature Network.