I’m on a spinach and artichoke kick. I blame the new bar in town that offers an exceptionally tasty spinach-artichoke dip. Tessa and I order it almost every time we meet for happy hour and I daydream about it in between our weekly sessions. It’s more spinach-y than cheesy (how do they pack so much spinach in there?) and has passed for dinner more than once. I can’t get enough of the combination and Tessa can’t either, apparently!
I caught a mention of spinach-artichoke enchiladas on a menu in Austin and didn’t get a chance to try them, so here we are with my homemade version. I based them off memories of the enchiladas my mom makes at home. She is not one to change it up, so her enchiladas consistently feature green chilis, sour cream, flour tortillas and store-bought red sauce. Oh and cheese on top, of course.
I made sure to incorporate all of the above into these lightened-up vegetarian enchiladas, but took it upon myself to create a healthier from-scratch red sauce. I tried spice-based sauce first, followed by tomato-based sauce and finally settled somewhere in between. My recipe is made with common dried spices, tomato paste for some umami-rich tomato flavor, vegetable broth as base and flour to thicken it up.
I’m always doing my best to accommodate my vegan and gluten-free eaters, but we might need to crowdsource this one. Vegan eaters, I tried the enchiladas without cheese and sour cream and thought they were a bit lacking. Maybe you could add some cashew cream inside and top with creamy chopped avocado.
Gluten-free friends, you could substitute corn tortillas for the flour tortillas. Just be sure to warm the tortillas first so they don’t crack when you bend them. I’m stumped on what to thicken the sauce with instead of flour—I tried using 1 1/2 tablespoons arrowroot powder in place of the flour, but the sauce didn’t sufficiently thicken up and pooled at the bottom of the pan. Let me know if you find a better solution!
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons whole wheat or all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ground chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup chopped red onion (about 1 small red onion)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 1 heaping cup drained artichokes (either jarred or defrosted frozen), quartered if necessary
- 1 (4-ounce) can green chilis, drained
- 12 ounces baby spinach, preferably organic
- 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- ¼ cup sour cream
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 6 (8-inch) whole wheat tortillas
- 2 cups homemade red sauce (see recipe above)
- 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- Handful chopped cilantro, for garnish
- Before you make the sauce, measure the flour and spices into a small bowl and place your tomato paste near the stove. In a medium-sized pot over medium heat, warm the oil until shimmering (it should be warm enough that the spices sizzle on contact). Pour in the flour and spice mixture. While stirring constantly with a whisk, cook until fragrant and slightly deepened in color, about 1 minute. Whisk the tomato paste into the mixture, then slowly pour in the broth while whisking constantly to remove any lumps.
- Bring the mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer, whisking often, for about five minutes, until the sauce has thickened a bit and a spoon encounters some resistance as you stir it. (The sauce will further thicken as it cools.) Remove from heat, then whisk in the vinegar and season to taste with a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.
- To make your enchiladas, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit with racks in the middle position and upper third. Lightly grease a 13 by 9-inch pan.
- In a large skillet, warm 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the chopped onion and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is tender and translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the drained artichokes and green chilis to the skillet, then add a few large handfuls of spinach. Cook, stirring and tossing frequently, until the spinach has wilted. Repeat with remaining spinach. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the pan is no longer wet with excess moisture. Remove from heat and transfer the mixture to a bowl. Stir in the drained black beans and sour cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Pour ½ cup enchilada sauce into your prepared pan and tilt it from side to side until the bottom of the pan is evenly coated. To assemble your first enchilada, spread ½ cup spinach artichoke mixture down the middle of a tortilla, then snugly wrap the left side over and then the right, to make a wrap. Place it seam side down against the edge of your pan. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling. Drizzle the remaining enchilada sauce evenly over the enchiladas, leaving the very ends of the enchiladas bare. Sprinkle shredded cheese evenly over the enchiladas.
- Bake, uncovered, on the middle rack for 20 minutes. If the cheese on top isn't golden enough for your liking, carefully transfer the enchiladas to the upper rack of the oven and bake for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, until sufficiently golden and bubbly.
- Remove from oven and let the enchiladas cool for 10 minutes (trust me!), then sprinkle chopped cilantro on top and serve.