Last weekend when I went to the farmer’s market to look for the week’s veggies I was, sadly, really uninspired. Maybe it’s the changeover from summer to fall, but I had a sinking feeling as I did my customary walk-through my favorite stalls before deciding what to buy. I’m was trying to change up what I’m eating and a lot of what was there was stuff I’d eaten recently. Greens? Nah? I just made some stuff with chard recently. Same with kale. Heirloom tomatoes? I’m still trying to cut down on acidic stuff. Surprisingly, there was still some summer squashes at the market, but I had plenty of zucchini a month ago. Winter squashes are beginning to arrive, but I wasn’t sure I was quite ready for winter squash.
(This is probably more because I don’t want to admit winter is coming than for any other reason. I would be more than happy with endless summer and staying away from the cold, rain and dark and seeing acorn squash just screams cold weather food.)
But I ended up getting a fall/winter squash anyway – a butternut. And I didn’t know what I was going to do with it. That evening as I was having a text conversation with my friend L., and I mentioned I needed to come up with something to do with a butternut squash for dinner that week. He suggested I come over, bring the squash and cook with him. Because, really, who wants to be alone with a big squash anyway? Thems some food for a group (or at least two).
L. has cooked for me a number of times, and he’s a great cook. He can make some mean roasted poultry—chicken, duck—and always with yummy potatoes usually cooked in said poultry fat, which is just delectable. He actually got me to like duck, something which, at restaurants, I have often found far too fatty for me to like. Another friend of mine, R., considers my refusal to eat duck with him at restaurants to be one of my great failings. If he’s giving me crap for some reason, he likes to bring up duck disdain as something that is generally wrong with me as in, “AND you don’t eat duck!” And my retort is “But I liked it when L. made it for me! It was really good!”
(Of course R. has been on a vegan kick all this year and no longer even eats duck himself, but that doesn’t stop him from still giving me crap about duck.)
But back to the butternut. I decided I had a hankering for some enchiladas. After searching online for inspiration, I found a recipe for black bean and squash tacos that had some intriguing spice combinations—cinnamon, cumin. That sounded like a good combo for squash, and I knew I could easily riff off that to make some Butternut and Black Bean Enchiladas. Turns out L. had never made homemade enchiladas before, so he was all over that idea!
Then I found a nifty video online from an episode of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” where a Mexican restaurant in Florida was making butternut squash tostadas. To prep the squash for their tostadas, the chef cut the squash into large hunks and par-boiled it for 3-4 minutes, then peeled, seeded and sliced it after. This is ingenious! Half the problem of dealing with squash is how tough they are to 1) cut without either a) breaking your wrist or b) practically breaking your knife; and 2) they are super slippery to peel. Every time I try to peel a squash it totally slips out of my hands at least once flying into the sink or the garbage can or whatever I’m trying to peel it over. I am soooo par-boiling from now on!
As usual, this was a “wing it” sort of endeavor. But since both L. and I are both experienced enough in the kitchen to both be “wing it” sort of cooks, I figured he’d appreciate my just making it up! (Of course, I haven’t yet figured out how to do that with baking–too much science and exactitude there!)
Butternut Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas
½ large butternut squash, cut in half, then thirds (large hunks)
Water for boiling
½ onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 can green chiles, diced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. cumin
½ tsp. chili powder
¼ tsp. black pepper
1 c. chicken broth
1 can red enchilada sauce
1 pkg. tortillas
1) Cut squash in half, then in thirds. Boil a large pot of water then add squash and par-boil for 4-5 minutes to soften.
2) Peel squash then dice. Set aside.
3) Preheat oven to 350° F.
4) Sauté onion in 1-2 tbsp. olive oil. Add squash when onion is translucent. As squash begins to soften, add pepper and chiles, then spices and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then let vegetables cook in broth until then soften and absorb most of the broth. Then combine beans with veggie/broth mixture.
5) When veggies and beans have absorbed most of the broth, heat tortillas in oven wrapped in foil or in microwave wrapped in damp paper towel.
6) Crumble cotija cheese into a bowl and set aside.
7) When tortillas have softened, make enchiladas by placing a heaping spoonful or two of filling onto the middle of each tortilla, topping with a bit of cotija, then rolling tightly. Place in baking pan, seam side down.
8) When all enchiladas have been rolled, pour sauce over them and sprinkle additional cotija on top.
9) Bake for 25-30 minutes.
10) Top with cilantro and serve.
Guacamole, of course, makes a great accompaniment. If you’re into sour cream, go for it and top with that (or even scallions), too. Oh, and I forgot to mention – we also topped these off with toasted pumpkin seeds (L. was in charge of toasting). Adds some nice crunch and texture!
As with most stuff full of spices, these only get better as leftovers. L. split up the remaining enchiladas between the two of us and sent me home with half the leftovers. He thought they were even better on Day 2. They were good on Day 3 for me, too.
All recipes and photos copyright of Foie Gras and Funnel Cakes unless otherwise noted.