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Love Your Leftovers: Vegetarian Chili Enchiladas

May 18, 2010

I remember the first enchilada I ever had, at a small Mexican cafe in Mount Kisco, NY. I was 21. I’d been a burrito girl my whole life and this was jumping in the deep end. But one bite of the cheesy, saucy goodness and I was hooked. Now its what I order at any nice Mexican restaurant (I highly recommend the crab ones as Rosa Mexicana in NYC!)

Surprisingly I have been putting off making these cheese wraps of glory for years. With a very good reason.

I have a serious love for corn tortillas. But there is an element that makes me have a serious hate for them while making some of my favorite dishes. Breakage:

No matter what, corn tortillas never want to cooperate when it comes to folding. I don’t care how many people say “heat them up beforehand and they will work” because they just don’t. Make as many tortilla chips or quesadillas you like, but when it comes to tacos or, say, last night’s enchiladas, I really don’t have the patience.

Corn tortilla breakage is the reason I’d never made enchiladas before.

So, I improvised.

I knew I wanted enchiladas for my leftover veggie chili, and I also knew I didn’t want to end up throwing a tray of beans and cheese across the kitchen in a fury of tortilla frustration. I saw a recipe for corn crepes on A Year in the Kitchen and found my answer.

The recipe is quick and easy and made my leftover chili shine like a diva more than ever before. Instead of thick, mealy tortillas I indulged in light, fluffy, and flavorful corn crepes, way better than any enchilada I’d ever had.

Vegetarian Chili Enchiladas

For the Filling:
Leftover vegetarian chili

For the Sauce:
1 cup plain tomato sauce
1/2 cup vegetable stock
2 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 tablespoon paprika
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

For the Crepes: (adapted from A Year in the Kitchen)
1/2 cup flour (I used gluten free mix)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup fresh or frozen (thawed) corn
1/4 cup onion, chopped
2 eggs
Salt and pepper

First, blend together all of the crepe ingredients until smooth. Put in a bowl and let sit for an hour.

When you are ready to cook, put your leftover chili on low heat on a back burner to heat through.

In a small saucepan, mix together all of the ingredients for the sauce except for the cheese. Put on a lot heat and let simmer for 10 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.

While everything is heating/simmering, preheat the oven to 400*.

For the crepes, take a 7 – 8″ saucepan and put it over medium heat. Spray with some Pam or add a bit of olive oil and coat the bottom. Add a ladle full of the crepe mixture (about 1/2 – 3/4 of a cup) and pour into the hot pan. Immediately swirl the batter around so it spreads out across the bottom. If there is not enough to cover, add a little more.

After a minute, using a non-metal spatula (less tearing) gently loosen the edges from the pan. Give the pan a good shake until the crepe loosens from the bottom and is free from any stickyness. Gently put the spatula under the crepe, flip, and cook the other side for about 1 – 2 minutes.

Transfer to a plate and continue making crepes until you use the batter up.

When the crepes are done, the chili is warm and the sauce has simmered (which happens all at once!), spray a baking pan with Pam. Take each crepe and make a pile down the center with chili. Wrap the crepe around the chili and place on the baking dish.

When all of the crepes are filled, pour the sauce over them and top with the grated cheese. Place in the oven for 5 – 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbling.

Serve with brown rice and vegetable of your choice. Makes 5 enchiladas.

So good, so easy, and so much better for you than the cheese-coma inducing restaurant variety. I am at a loss for words about the corn crepes (except for one: amazing!). Tortillas now have a soft and savory rival. I might have to throw a Mexican-themed party just to show them off. I could have eaten a million of these. Luckily, I only made five, and Z got to the third one before I could.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. May 19, 2010 6:22 am

    My Ezekiel tortillas always break, too. I think I’ve just come to accept it πŸ™‚

  2. May 19, 2010 10:56 am

    well look at you, ya genius! i LOVE this idea! i like to use corn tortillas for the texture and flavor, but also because they’re much lower in calories than flour… but the crepes are a great idea for enchiladas! and boy were those crepes good!

    • May 19, 2010 8:48 pm

      Thanks for the recipe Ashlee! I used skim milk, so cut down on the calories, which was nice πŸ™‚

  3. May 19, 2010 11:03 am

    you know, i didn’t grow up eating enchiladas, so i never think about them… love the idea with crepes. i should remember to give these a try πŸ™‚

  4. May 19, 2010 12:22 pm

    I like that corn crepe recipe. Too bad I’m terrible at crepe making — even with a 1970s crepe pan.

    • May 19, 2010 8:48 pm

      No worries, I just posted a simple how-to! They scared me at first, but now I love making them πŸ™‚

  5. DiningAndDishing permalink
    May 19, 2010 4:24 pm

    I had enchiladas for the first time in forever Sat night…I’d forgotten how good they are! Thanks for the recipe… I love seeing a healthified version of something like this :).

    – Beth @

  6. May 19, 2010 5:56 pm

    What a SUPER smart idea!! I have the same exact problem, but have never thought of a solution like this… And it makes them just that much more homemade! I love enchiladas πŸ™‚

    • May 19, 2010 8:47 pm

      Me too! I was so happy when I rolled them up and they didn’t break πŸ™‚

  7. May 19, 2010 7:45 pm

    Your homemade crepes look absolutely delicious! I love that they have corn in them. And this is a great way to use up your leftovers! I usually use flour tortillas for my enchiladas – I crisp them up a little in the frying pan first so they don’t turn to mush.

  8. May 21, 2010 10:42 am

    This is a genious idea! I have serious issues with corn tortilla breakage too.

  9. M. Wallace permalink
    December 18, 2010 1:32 am

    I’m sorry your corn tortillas never turn out the way you want them. Cooking them until pliable and cooperative requires three ingredients. Those three ingredients are heat, pressure and time. If you are lacking in any one of these three areas, the resulting tortillas most likely will not agree with your will. Heat and pressure are somewhat synonymous as a solution being heated exerts higher pressure to materials within the solution environment. I believe time is perhaps your biggest culprit. To begin, do not use oil for your tortillas. Heat a large saucepan of enchilada sauce that will accommodate your corn tortillas. Submerse your corn tortilla in the saucepan and allow to cook until slippery and pliable. Proceed to preparing enchilada. I am part Scottish and French Canadian and still think you are a gringo if you cannot prepare enchiladas with corn tortillas.


  1. How the…?!: Making Crepes « Yumventures

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