These are my favorite plant based enchiladas I’ve ever had, they’re the only ones I fuck with, and I’ve tried tons of variations. I think where most people mess up when making vegan Mexican food, and I’ve done it too, is having way too many components. With the standard enchiladas, the fillings are all pretty homogenous or uniform and I think it’s important to replicate that (and my walnut chorizo follows that thought as well). I use small brown lentils for this (and for most of my lentil needs) and I can’t recommend these ones enough, but any lentil variety other than red will do just fine. You simmer them until they’re just about ready to fall apart, then cook them down even further in a skillet full of caramelized onions and garlic, chilis and spices, retaining some of the leftover starch-rich, velvety cooking water from the lentils, until everything is smooth, creamy and looks as though filling these enchiladas was their one true purpose of existing at all. It’s important to really brown your onions, garlic and chilis here as the browning is where so much flavor is!
If you’re reheating the leftovers, be sure to cover them with tin foil or a lid. Both the filling and the uncooked enchiladas freeze really well (don’t let them thaw, cook straight from frozen and top with a little reserved sauce beforehand ideally).
2 cups lentils (ideally small brown lentils)
~5 cup vegan chicken or vegetable broth (I use better than bouillon brand)
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp oil of choice
1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, diced
4 oz can roasted hatch chilis (or 1 diced jalapeno)
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp mexican oreagno
1/2 tsp allspice powder
1/2 tsp high quality cocoa powder
1 tsp soy sauce or tamari
optional – 1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan as you’re browning the onions and garlic. Not traditional but I highly recommend!
2+ cups enchilada sauce (recipe below)
12 corn tortillas, heated up and pliable
for garnish: avocado, vegan sour cream and cilantro
To heat the tortillas: heat a skillet over medium heat. Add a tortilla, let it sit about 10 seconds, then lift it with a spatula and add the next tortilla underneath it. Continue this process of stacking the tortillas, adding the new ones to to the bottom to cook ~10 seconds, until all are warmed through.
Bring the lentils, broth and tomato paste to a boil, then simmer for 20-30 minutes or until soft. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat then saute the onion and garlic until browned and very fragrant. Add in the chilis and spices, optionally deglazing the pan with balsamic when things start to stick.
Strain the lentils over a large, heat proof boil to save the cooking water. Add the lentils to the skillet with the vegetables and about 1/2 cup of the leftover cooking water. Let simmer for several minutes, until the lentils are very soft, adding more leftover cooking water as necessary. If you still have leftover cooking liquid, use it in the enchilada sauce!
Preheat oven to 375.
In a 9×13″ pan, pour in half the enchilada sauce and spread it evenly across the bottom of the pan. With softened tortillas, add the lentil filling and roll, tucking them tightly into the baking pan. Drizzle the remaining enchilada sauce over the top and bake uncovered for 20 minutes.
Basic enchilada sauce
2 tbsp vegan butter
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tsp cumin
2 cup vegan chicken broth (or reserved lentil cooking water)
In a saucepan, melt the butter then whisk in the flour. Cook for ~1 minute until lightly browned, then slowly whisk in the vegan chicken broth. Add the spices then bring to a boil. Simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.