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Eggplant Enchiladas with Pepita Cream

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Level: Easy

System:

5

Description

Eggplant in enchiladas? Oh yeah! This is a healthy take on a traditionally heavy Mexican dish. A cream made of pepitas replaces the usual cheese and makes this a totally satisfying vegan dish. Don’t be scared off by the prep time, most of that is in the soaking of the pepitas. Once you try this dish you’ll be wondering where these enchiladas have been all your life!

Ingredients

  • FOR THE PEPITA CREAM:
  • 1 cup Raw Pepitas
  • 3 cups Cold Water, Divided Use
  • ¼ teaspoons Salt
  • FOR THE ENCHILADAS:
  • 1-½ pound Eggplant
  • Salt, Divided
  • 1 whole Medium Onion. Small Dice
  • 2-½ Tablespoons Olive Oil, Divided
  • ½ teaspoons Sugar
  • 2 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 teaspoon Oregano, Preferably Mexican
  • 1 whole Red Bell Pepper, Cut Into 4 Large Pieces, And Seeds Removed
  • Pepper To Taste
  • ¼ cups Cilantro Or Flat Leaf Parsley, Chopped
  • 10 whole Soft Corn Tortillas, Warmed
  • 2 cups Red Enchilada Sauce, Homemade Or Canned
  • 3 Tablespoons Pepita Seeds, For Garnish

Preparation

For the pepita cream:

1. Add the pepitas with 2 cups of the cold water to a bowl. Allow them to soak for 3 hours.
2. Drain and rinse the soaked pepitas.
3. Add the pepitas into the jar of a blender with 1 cup of fresh water and the salt. Blend until smooth. If the sauce seems a little thick, add a little more water and continue pulsing until the desired consistency is achieved.
4. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Stir before using.

For the enchiladas:

1. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and remove the ends. Peel the eggplant if desired (it’s a preference thing), and cut it into about ¾ inch thick slices. Lay the eggplant slices in a single layer on some sheets of paper towel. Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of salt over the top of all (not each) of the eggplant slices. Allow that to sit for about 15 minutes, then turn the slices over and sprinkle another teaspoon of salt over all of the slices. Salting helps to remove any bitterness from the eggplant.
2. Meanwhile in a medium skillet combine the onions, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, sugar and a pinch of salt. Cook over medium high heat to start, stirring occasionally. When the onions are translucent turn the heat down to medium. Add the garlic and oregano. Cook stirring until the onions are a golden caramel color, about 15 minutes longer. Remove skillet from the heat and set to the side.
3. Preheat the broiler and make sure you have a rack in the middle setting.
4. Rinse the salt off of the eggplant and blot dry.
5. Lay the sliced eggplant and the red bell pepper on a rimmed sheet pan. Brush (or mist) both sides of the vegetables with olive oil and season with a little salt and pepper. Put the pan under the broiler on the middle rack. When the veggies are brown (5 to 7 minutes) turn them over and brown the other side. Keep an eye on them once you flip them. When browned to your liking remove pan from the oven.
6. Pull most of the charred skin off of the red peppers. Cut the peppers and the eggplant into about ½ inch dice.
7. In a large bowl combine the diced eggplant and peppers, the caramelized onions, ¾ cup of the pepita cream sauce and the cilantro (or flat leaf parsley). Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.
8. Turn the oven on to 350 F.
9. Coat the bottom of a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish with some of red the enchilada sauce.
10. Put about 1/3 cup of the filling down the center a warmed tortilla. Roll the tortilla around the filling (like a tube) and place it seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, lining them up next to each other down the center of the baking dish.
11. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the enchiladas.
12. Tent a sheet of aluminum foil over the dish and bake for about 15 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake for a further 15 to 20 minutes, just until the enchiladas are hot.
13. Remove from the oven, and serve with more pepita cream and garnish with pepita seeds.

Notes: In place of the pepita cream sauce you may use cheese. I would suggest adding about 1/3 cup of Pecorino Romano cheese for the filling, and about ¾ cup of Monterey jack cheese over the top.

If using canned enchilada sauce go ahead and use two ten ounce cans in their entirety, there’s no point in wasting the extra sauce.

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