In the Kitchen: Squash Enchiladas with Spicy Peanut Sauce

The first time I had these enchiladas was at a Portland restaurant named Chez Jose.  They were delicious, and I was thrilled when our local newspaper published the recipe some years ago.  This dish takes a bit of time (and lots of pans) to prepare; but if you have a few hours to spare, they are well worth the trouble.  Besides, your vegetarian friends will love you for it.

My recipes all start out the same:  First, before anything else, give the cat some cat treats or resolve to have her under your feet for the entire extravaganza.

Next, start with a butternut squash.  You only need a small one--about one pound.  All the ones in my grocery store were humongous, however.  This one weighed in at a whopping seven pounds.  

So I invited my sumo wrestler friends over to help me cut it in half.

Between the four of us, we got 'er done.

Then, scoop out the seeds

and place it cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet.  Put a little water in the pan and bake it at 400°F. for one hour, or until it's fork tender.

The skin will be spotty brown.

When it's cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh.  Weigh out one pound, and freeze the rest for some butternut squash soup down the road.

Looks good, doesn't it?
Now.  Peel, quarter, and slice one medium carrot.  Chop up 1/4 pound fresh mushrooms (about 1 1/4 cup) and dice 1/2 cup of onion.

Fry it up in a pan (and never, never, never let him forget he's a man, cause I'm a wooooo-man! . . . ahem, I often break into song when I'm cooking).

 While that's frying, peel and dice some jicama.  You'll only need 1/2 cup. 

And this brings me to the question of the day:  Was Oregon irradiated at some point in time?  Our vegetables seem to have grown to monstrous proportions.  This jicama is as big as my head.  Now some people have accused me of having a pinhead, but I'm here to tell you that my head is at least the size of a baseball.  You'll want to have your sumo wrestling friends hang around to help you with this too.

Once you've defeated the giant jicama, core, peel and chop one small Granny Smith apple, and chop 1/4 cup of shelled sunflower seeds.

 You'll also want to measure out one tablespoon of white vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

And you'll need two tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro.  Not a fan of cilantro?  Neither am I, but it's okay in this dish.

When the carrot mixture is ready, add all of the newly prepared ingredients to the pan, mix well, and set it aside while you make the sauce.

Looking pretty good so far, eh?

To prepare the Spicy Peanut Sauce, here's what you'll want to do.  First off, the recipe calls for a tablespoon of instant vegetable-flavored bouillon.  I wasn't able to find this in my grocery store.  However, I was able to find vegetable soup base.

When I'm making a vegetarian dish, I like to keep it strictly vegetarian.  I'm not a vegetarian, but I have friends who are.  We eat vegetarian at least once per week because it's good for the world and good for our health.  In any event, I like to keep a good supply of vegetarian recipes on hand too, and so this is just good practice for me.  If you're not into that and you can't find the vegetable bouillon, by all means substitute chicken bouillon.  I doubt very much if a tasting expert would be able to tell the difference.

That said, you'll need two cups of water, one tablespoon of the vegetable soup base, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic, and 2 chopped chipotle peppers from a can.  (The recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of chili powder, but I think this is spicy enough without it, so I left it out.  Feel free to add it if you have a strong stomach.) 

Dump those ingredients into a medium saucepan, whisk to combine, and bring to a boil.

While you're waiting for that, mince one more tablespoon of onion

measure out 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano

and saute both in one tablespoon of vegetable oil until the onion is soft.

Then, sprinkle in one tablespoon of all-purpose flour and stir for one minute.  Essentially, you are making a roux.

Stir that into the chili mixture, return it to a boil and cook 2 minutes.

After it cooks, strain and discard the solids.  Reserve the liquid in a medium bowl.

Now you're ready to mix in 3/4 cup of creamy peanut butter . . . whatever brand you like.

Whisk it until it's smooth.

Now that the sauce and filling are made, you're ready to assemble your enchiladas. 

Start by preheating your oven to 350°F.  Place 3-4 corn tortillas between two damp paper towels and microwave them on high for 30 seconds to soften them.  If they crack or seem dry, reheat them.

Working with one tortilla at a time, place a spoonful of the squash filling down the center of each tortilla.

Roll it up and place seam side down in a lightly oiled 9 x 13 baking dish.

When all of the tortillas are filled, pour the Spicy Peanut Sauce over the rolled tortillas and sprinkle them with one cup of grated cheddar and one cup of grated Monterey Jack cheese.

Bake them in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and enchiladas are hot and bubbly. 

And now . . . enjoy!  Here's the recipe with full credit given to Chez Jose for a delicious vegetarian dish.

Squash Enchiladas with Spicy Peanut Sauce
Servings: 4     

1 small butternut squash -- (approximately 1 pound)
1 medium carrot -- peeled, quartered, sliced
1/4 pound  fresh mushrooms -- diced (approximately 1 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup  diced onion
2 tablespoons  vegetable oil
1/2 cup  diced jicama
1 small Granny Smith apple -- cored, peeled and diced
1/4 cup  shelled sunflower seeds -- chopped
1 tablespoon  white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon  salt
2 tablespoons  chopped fresh cilantro
2 cups  water
1 tablespoon  vegetable-flavored instant bouillon or soup base
1/2 teaspoon  salt
1/2 teaspoon  ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon  minced garlic
2 canned chipotle chiles -- chopped
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon  vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon  dried oregano
1 tablespoon  minced onion
1 tablespoon  all-purpose flour
3/4 cup  creamy peanut butter
8-10 corn tortillas
1 cup  grated cheddar cheese -- (4 oz.)
1 cup  grated Monterey jack cheese -- (4 oz.)

To prepare squash:  Cut the butternut squash in half and scoop out seeds.  Place cut side down in a baking pan with a small amount of water; bake in 400-degree oven about 1 hour, or until tender.  (Or microwave on high for 6 minutes, turning once, or until tender.)  When cool enough to handle, scoop cooked squash out of shell and set aside.

To make filling:  In a large skillet, saute carrot, mushrooms and onion in the oil until the carrot is tender-crisp.  Add the cooked squash, jicama, apple, sunflower seeds, vinegar, salt and cilantro; mix well and set aside while preparing sauce.

To prepare Spicy Peanut Sauce:  In a medium saucepan, combine water, vegetable bouillon, salt, cumin, garlic, chiles, and chili powder.  Bring to a boil.  Meanwhile, in a small saute pan, heat the one tablespoon oil over low heat.  Add oregano and onion; saute until onion is soft.  Add flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Stir the onion mixture into the chile mixture.  Bring to a boil and cook about 2 minutes; remove from heat, strain and discard solids, reserving liquid.  Add peanut butter and stir until well-combined and smooth; set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

To assemble:  Working with 3-4 tortillas at a time, place the tortillas between two damp paper towels and heat in the microwave until they are soft and pliable (about 30 seconds).  If they crack or come unrolled, heat longer.  (If you prefer, you can heat a small amount of oil in a shallow skillet and dip each tortilla in oil for a few seconds to soften.  Lay softened tortillas on paper towels to drain.)  Place a spoonful of squash mixture down the center of each tortilla.  Roll up and place seam side down in a lightly oiled 9 x 13 inch baking pan.  Pour Spicy Peanut Sauce over the rolled tortillas and sprinkle with cheddar and jack cheese.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and enchiladas are hot in the center.

5 comments from clever and witty friends:

Becky~ said...

Now this looks soo good Barbara.A bit time consuming but on a free day I will just try this one.Thanks for sharing.

LOL@the kitty.He needs food Barbara feed him LOL. Arent they just amazing.Even when I feed my fat cat of 14 he meows more more.lol

Happy Wednesday ahead!

Sarah said...

I've never taken the time to make enchiladas but I think the time has come! Love the combo of fruit and veggies.

Don't forget to invite your sumo friends over for squash risotto made with some of the leftover butternut... it's my fav risotto.

Stray Stitches said...

What an interesting combination! Looks good but if it takes more than 1/2 hour to prepare, count me out. LOL!

Snoodles said...

Ahhh, cooked with love. And sumo wrestlers. You crack me up, Barbara! Great post -- and I want so badly to try this....maybe when it's colder outside, and I have more time inside. MMMM, it does look heavenly!

Anonymous said...

Just had these at Chez Jose (again). Thanks for the ingredients!