Makeshift Enchiladas

Leftover night can be interesting when you cook everything from scratch. This past week I surveyed my fridge of random half-prepared meals and considered what I might pull together for our last dinner before getting a new box of groceries from the CSA. Quinoa (cooked in broth, of course), pinto beans, corn, and bits of stew beef fit together nicely into a sort of casserole, but the things that really needed to be used up were vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, and yellow squash. With a little creativity, I ended up making tortilla-free enchiladas! I'll detail the process in this article, and then recap what made it work at the end.

Most of the vegetables I needed to use went into the blender with chili seasoning and oregano to create a sort of enchilada sauce base. I boiled that down a bit while I used a vegetable peeler to prepare the yellow squash to take the place of tortillas, as in this enchilada recipe. 

I then added the other leftovers (quinoa, beans, corn, beef) to the sauce. Because they were straight from the fridge, the mixture became cool enough to handle which made it easier to roll the enchiladas.

I rolled the filling into strips of yellow squash and arranged the rolls in a casserole dish, as described in the recipe I referenced above. I accomplished my main objective of using up the leftovers by choosing the size of dish based on the amount of filling I had mixed up rather than binding myself to the size recommended in the recipe — so the only thing left at the end was a bit of squash.

I made one special purchase for this dish: cheese. Layered on top it provided just enough moisture to cook the squash which was lucky for me since I forgot to reserve any of the sauce. Next time I will so I can drizzle that over everything before adding the cheese.

Some recipes require more exact measurements, but this one works on three basic principles:

  • The sauce provides moisture to cook the squash.
  • The leftovers provide substance to fill the enchiladas.
  • The squash hold everything together and makes the texture more interesting.

These basic principles come together to create a wonderfully random dish. I could follow a recipe for enchiladas (like the one I linked to earlier), but digging deeper to understand the building blocks allows me to make up my own dish based on what I have on hand.

We could have eaten some of these things on their own for leftover night while trying not to think about how uninteresting it is to eat a little of this and a little of that, but instead I was able to serve up a whole new meal.