Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Black bean florentine enchiladas, or "What should I do with this spinach?"

My mother, always strongly opinionated, has a very firm stance on wasting food.  During my Catholic upbringing, we were always taught it was a sin, right up there with stealing or coveting your neighbour's toys.  Granted, in a house of six, it was pretty easy to get rid of leftovers before they were past their prime.  In my new single-person dwelling, however, this has proved a little more difficult.  I will spare you any pictures.

This picture, on the other hand, shouldn't be too offensive
I do look for ways to use up perishable foods in the fridge before buying new goods.  This is what led to the following recipe: black bean florentine enchiladas.  Yup, florentine.  Spinach.  Not exactly what comes to mind when you think Mexican food, but I had a bag of baby spinach that was looking less-than-prime, at least for crisp salad applications.  I also had some tortillas in need of some lovin'.  I wanted something tasty, low fat, and high fibre with at least a couple servings of veggies... mission accomplished!

Mmm.  Melty goodness.
I basically decided to alter my standard hummus recipe by adding black beans instead of chickpeas, lime juice and zest instead of lemon, and tomato paste instead of sesame paste (tahini).  Olive oil and cumin stayed the same.  The enchilada sauce is based on Rachel Ray's original 30-Minute Meals book (published before her widespread fame), and is a staple for me.  I added the fresh baby spinach to both the sauce and the filling (I had quite a bit to deal with), and topped it all off with low-fat cheddar cheese.  Mmmm!!!  It seems like a lot of steps, but everything comes together quickly (particularly if you start the sauce before blending up the filling).

I call this one, "Enchilada cross-section, with cilantro and lime".
Black Bean Florentine Enchiladas
Cobbled together by me, for once!

Makes 4 servings (trust me, one enchilada at a time will do ya!)

  • 19 oz. can black beans
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (more as needed)
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Juice and zest of 1 lime
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • About 1 1/2 to 2 cups of baby spinach
  • Small handful cilantro (if you like it)
  • About 1 Tbsp water (I just fill one of the juiced lime halves with water and chuck it in)
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp Sriracha hot sauce (or your favourite kind, to taste)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste (OR, add one packet of OXO beef bouillion.  Gives that nice beefy flavour without the actual meat)
  • 4 large whole wheat tortillas (or your favourite variety)
  • Enchilada sauce (either store-bought, or made as below)
  • About 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I used low fat)
  • About two green onions, sliced thinly
  1. Set your oven to 450ºF
  2. Stir together everything up until the salt and pepper and using an immersion blender or food processor, process until smooth.  Add a little more olive oil if the mixture is too stiff or dry.
  3. Divide the bean mixture into four portions.  Add to tortillas and roll up.
  4. Put a small layer of enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9x13" pan.  Place your rolled-up tortillas in the pan, and top with remaining sauce (save some for another time if it gets to be too much).  Top with green onions, then cheese (in that order, to prevent burnt onions).  
  5. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or so, until cheese is melted and filling is heated through.
Florentine Enchilada Sauce:
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, grated
  • 1 28 oz can pureed tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Coarse salt, to taste
  • About 1 cup baby spinach leaves (or omit, for a more authentic version)
  1.  Heat garlic in olive oil in a pot over medium heat until it starts to sizzle.  Add the onion by grating it directly into the pot.  Cook onion and garlic for about 2 minutes.
  2. Add pureed tomatoes and seasonings.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low.  
  3. Add the spinach to the pot and stir until it wilts in.  If you want, you can puree it up further with an immersion blender or food processor; some people like to have the full leaves in there.  Keep at a simmer until enchiladas are ready to top.

So, I'll be the first to admit that the green spinach leaves made the sauce and filling look a bit... funky.  At least in terms of colour.  But honestly, I was just happy knowing I was getting Popeye-approved nutrients without the foremost flavour being the spinach.  Also, if I'm not much mistaken, this dish is pretty green-light!  Low fat, high fibre... hooray!  A feel-good meal all around.

Off to do some healthy jogging before delving into decidedly unhealthy peanut butter brownies (more on that later!)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Chocolate, hazelnuts, and a new tradition

Just as I feel I'm settling in Winnipeg, it arrives: the dreaded "Sign your life away for the next year, or get out of our apartment building" notice.  So, I'm about to uproot myself again and move within the city to something more affordable (and less lavish.  Does anyone truly NEED a pool, hot tub, gym, and car wash in their parkade?  Probably not).

Despite changes in living conditions, though, I'm laying down roots in other areas.  Specifically, I've started a new tradition (though I've alluded to it before).  I have become the official birthday cake baker for my lovely friends/coworkers.  Last week, I made an absolutely gorgeous (in my modest opinion!) chocolate hazelnut cake for my wonderful colleague Linda, with the help of my (now-famous) birthday cake quiz.  Here's the result!

This cake doesn't contain any flour.  It also contains a whole (400g) jar of Nutella.  How can you go wrong?!
As per Linda's quiz, I decided Skor would be a nice addition to this tasty treat.  There's one food-processed bar in the cake itself, and two more decorating the top.  Mmm!
Happy moment in my life: realizing I can get buttercream icing from a GIANT TUB at Bulk Barn :)  Makes a nice contrast for decoration with the Skor, hazelnuts, and chocolate ganache, no?

I don't often quote that 1970's rug-chested Englishman... but YEAH BABY!!
Deb in my office, holding the last piece on a very classy brown paper towel.  See how hard I work on Tuesday afternoons, handing out cake to all and sundry?
Overall I was EXTREMELY pleased with how the recipe turned out.  My coworker even asked me for the recipe to make for her own Hubs, since he loves Nutella.  I love getting ideas from other blogs and tweaking them slightly.  I suppose this is as good a time as any to formally thank my favourite curvy British food goddess Nigella Lawson, who originally published the recipe.  She may try to turn her recipes into some sort of strange erotic experience on her shows, but MAN that woman makes good food.

Thinking this was a good encore following my "Third Wheel" (PB, Nutella and banana) crèpe at Kawaii,