Take me to a Mexican restaurant and 90% of the time, I will order enchiladas. Ground beef or carnitas are my fillings of choice. At home, I use a ground turkey filling seasoned with cumin and chili powder, always. This alone should disqualify me from being classified as a foodie–with certain foods, I am most definitely a creature of habit.
For a change, I embraced spontaneity this week. My refrigerator is bursting with extra ingredients from this past weekend’s brunch and I had a strong craving for Mexican food. Instead of my usual ground turkey, I made a filling out of leftover roast chicken, spinach, mushrooms and Anaheim peppers. I sautéed them quickly and seasoned the mixture with ground cumin and chili powder. A sampling of my filling proved promising.
To finish the dish, I made my own corn tortillas (recipe here) hoping that this would offset the fact that I still use store-bought enchilada sauce. I know. I have found a few prospects though–who knew there were so many variations? I even found one that uses cocoa powder (not a molé sauce)–intriguing, but next time.
What I was inspired to make instead was a condiment to help brighten the flavors of the enchiladas. The darling author of The Baking Barrister arrived for brunch last weekend with a precious gift in the form of three gorgeous avocados, perfect for my Mexican-themed meal. I’ve been wanting to expand my avocado horizons by making a dressing or a sauce showcasing their smooth, buttery flavor. The enchiladas would be an appropriate backdrop, I thought.
Ultimately, I made a sauce fashioned out of some traditional guacamole ingredients, puréeing the avocados with lime juice, cilantro, sour cream and salt. It was simple but it did the trick. Just a dollop added a welcome flash of freshness to the baked enchiladas. And the enchiladas themselves? Loved them! The sauce-drenched tortillas were fall-apart soft after baking in the oven, the boldness of the red sauce offering a balance against the delicate quality of the spinach and mushrooms. In fact, this combination is forcing me to rethink my old ideas about my standby recipe; I may eliminate the meat altogether next time. And finally, I even used marinated buffalo mozzarella in the filling with good results. I may have just found my new go-to enchilada.
Chicken and Spinach Enchiladas with Avocado-Lime Sauce
* Note: the filling will be enough for about a 10 – 12 enchiladas (or more if you use small tortillas like I did)
- 2 cups chicken, diced (I used leftover rotisserie chicken)
- 4 cups tightly packed spinach (5 ounces)
- 1 – 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 large onion, chopped
- 1 Anaheim chile, chopped
- Olive Oil for sautéing
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 scant teaspoon ground cumin
- Enchilada sauce (Use homemade if you have it. I used a 28 oz can store-bought)
- Corn tortillas (I used a dozen 6-inch pieces)
- About 2 cups cheese (I used a combination of shredded cheddar/jack and fresh marinated mozzarella)
- Garnish: Sour cream, avocado sauce, cilantro, radishes, chopped onions
- 3 avocados
- Juice of one lime
- 2 tablespoons cilantro
- salt, to taste
- 1 heaping tablespoon sour cream