Living close to the U.S.-Mexico border can be a bane and a blessing for cooks interested in regional fare. There's always a new food avenue to explore with a constant influx of bold flavors and cooking styles hailing from Mexico and Central America. Many of these dishes start out strong in ethnic kitchens but take a wrong turn by the time they reach food courts designed to appease the American palate.
High on the list are enchiladas, a street food dating back to the Aztec Empire and subsequently brought to the States via Mexico. After a few generations stateside, enchiladas have become engorged versions of the original, consisting of tortillas packed with shredded meat, smothered in sauce and oozing with melted cheese. Needless to say, beef enchiladas in that form are filling.
These meaty tubes of gooey deliciousness are emblematic of a much wider health problem, but they don't have to be. Adding tofu to the ingredient list may feel like an abomination, but when treated with respect, the soy-based product has its merits, turning what would be a heavy meal into a lighter but equally pleasurable experience. So how good can tofu enchiladas really be? Make this recipe and find out.
Prep time: 40 minutes
Total time: 90 minutes
Yields: 6 enchiladas
Equipment you'll need
- Chef's knife
- Paper napkins
- 2 cutting boards
- Measuring cup
- 2 large skillets
- Wooden spoon
- 9 x 13 baking dish
Photos: Enrique Gili
- 14 oz. extra firm tofu, drained and cubed
- 4 tbs. vegetable oil, divided
- 1 large onion, halved
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 3 tbs. chili powder
- 1 tbs. ground cumin
- 6 oz. tomato paste
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 15 oz. tomato sauce
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper (optional)
- 3 Anaheim peppers, stemmed, seeded and sliced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded and sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
- 1.5 cup shredded cheese, any combo of monterey jack, cheddar, cheddar-jack
- 6 9-inch flour tortillas
- Half bundle cilantro, loosely chopped
- 1 med-sized avocado, sliced (optional)
- Line cutting board with paper napkins and place tofu on board, layer with napkins and weight with a heavy plate. Doing so removes excess moisture and allows tofu to absorb liquid from skillet.
- Prep vegetables for red sauce. Dice half the onion and mince the garlic. Add 1.5 tbs. vegetable oil to skillet over medium-high heat and cook until it begins to bubble. Sauté onion and garlic until tender, about 5 or 6 minutes. Then add cumin and chili powder, stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Combine broth, tomato paste and tomato sauce in skillet. Stir until blended and sauce begins to bubble, reduce heat and partially cover and cook for about about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the filling. Prep the onion, Anaheim and jalapeno peppers. Cut tofu into ½-inch cubes. Then add 1.5 tbs. vegetable oil to second skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until it begins to bubble. Sauté onion, Anaheim and jalapeno peppers until tender, about 5 or 6 minutes. Then add cumin and garam masala, stir until fragrant, about one minute. Bank sautéed vegetables to side of skillet. Then add tofu, cook for about 12 minutes until tofu begins to brown. Combine vegetables and tofu.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, pour about 1/3 of enchilada sauce over vegetables. Occasionally stir ingredients, while the stove warms. Lightly grease baking dish with 1 tbs. oil and 1/3 sauce. Pack tortillas with filling and place in single layer in baking dish. Cover with remaining sauce and shredded cheese. Cook enchiladas for about 12 minutes, or until cheese begins to turn golden brown.
- Slice avocado and chop cilantro, plate with enchiladas.