Spinach Pesto Enchiladas
Want to get your children eating more spinach? This recipe is a great way to bump up the fiber and nutrients in your enchiladas. Then when you add all the peppers and onions, this recipe is really packed full of veggies. I kind of married chicken enchiladas with fajitas in this recipe. I got the inspiration for the sauce from Rick Bayless and his website. I have experimented with all kinds of enchiladas over the years, and I would have to say these are the best enchiladas I have ever made. My husband, the critic, does not like enchiladas very much. But these actually made the critic’s choice. He LOVED them. I also entertained a friend and she really enjoyed them as well (going back for seconds, which is not something she usually does).
I know there are a lot of steps to this recipe and it does seem quite labor intensive. But trust me, it is so worth it. To save on the amount of work, I would recommend roasting the chicken another day. I think I started roasting the chicken at four and wasn’t done with the enchiladas until around six. But if you made the chicken a separate day, it would cut back on half the time. Or just feel free to buy a rotisserie chicken if you don’t have time for roasting one. I have already been thinking about how to vary the recipe by using other fillings. I think they might be good with some sort of seafood or just veggies. This recipe is very easily made dairy free. Just see the notes I made in the recipe about how to make it dairy free.
Spinach Pesto Enchiladas
1 roasted or rotisserie chicken (see below for recipe for roasted chicken)
2 cups spinach
1 cup cilantro
juice of 2 limes
1 roasted clove of garlic
3 cups of chicken broth
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp tapioca flour
splash of milk (optional or use non dairy milk)
2 tsp cumin powder
2 red peppers cut into strips
1 red onion sliced
20 corn tortilla
Queso Fresco, Queso Enchilada, or Vegan Cheese (for non-dairy version)
Roast the chicken first if you are not using a Rotisserie Chicken. Note: A great way to make a double duty meal is by making two chickens the next time you roast one. Then you can make these enchiladas the next day.
Step One: Roast Chicken (skip if you are using a rotisserie)
1 whole chicken
1 tsp chile powder
1 tsp cumin
dash of cinnamon
Make a simple spice mix with chile powder, cumin and a hint of cinnamon and sprinkle it all over the chicken with salt and pepper. Put a halved lemon in the cavity of the chicken. Bake in a 400 degree oven for close to an hour or until thermometer reaches 180 degrees. Allow chicken to cool.
Step Two: Roast Garlic
Cut top one fourth of an inch off the top of the garlic. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap in foil and bake in 400 degree oven for twenty to thirty minutes or until garlic softens. Let cool and squeeze garlic cloves into a food processor. Note: You can roast the garlic with the chicken if you are doing it that day.
Shred chicken with a fork and set aside for later.
Step Three: Spinach Pesto Sauce and Peppers and Onions
Place two green chilies under the broiler until blackened on all sides. Let cool and peel away the skin and loosely chop. Place roasted garlic, roasted green chilies, spinach, cilantro, lime, salt and pepper into food processor. Pulse food processor while adding a small stream of chicken broth. Continue to add chicken broth until mixture becomes a loose pesto. In the stove, add olive oil to a hot saucepan. Mix in tapioca flour. Pour in two to three cups of chicken stock and pesto mixture from the food processor. Allow pesto sauce to come up to a bubble and thicken until it coats the back of a spoon. Add more salt if it needs it. Optional: add a splash of milk or non-dairy milk (I think cashew milk would be great in this recipe).
While the sauce is thickening, saute red pepper and onion in a skillet. I crank up the heat on my skillet so that they really start to blacken and caramelize. I think it adds extra flavor.
Step Four: Assemble the Enchiladas
Place 20 corn tortillas in a wet kitchen towel or wet paper towels. Heat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. The moisture in the towel will keep the tortillas pliable.
Pour one cup of sauce into the shredded chicken and mix in the peppers and onions.
Pour about a half of cup of sauce into the bottom of your baking dish (I used two dishes). Fill tortillas with chicken mixture. Roll and place into the casserole dish. Keep wrapping until you use all of the filling. I got around twenty enchiladas, but this will vary depending on how full you fill the enchilada. I think I use around a fourth of a cup. Pour the rest of your pesto sauce over your enchiladas. Sprinkle with cheese (vegan cheese if you are non dairy). I do think that these enchiladas would even be good without any cheese at all. Bake in 350 degree oven for twenty to thirty minutes or until golden brown and bubbling. Serve with guacamole or your favorite enchilada topping.