Monday, April 03, 2006

Black Bean and Rice Soft Tacos or Enchiladas

I love Mexican food and am always on the quest for good enchilada recipes. Actually, I'm not sure what I love more .... The food itself or the fact that I adore sour cream and having it with Mexican food. There's nothing quite like a dollop of sour cream.

Any how, I've tried a few recipes here and there but nothing that wowed me until I found this recipe. This recipe is great because it's relatively fast, easy, and can be made into two similar but different dishes. If you only have 30 minutes or less or are just plain pooped, you can use the filling for soft tacos or tostadas. If you have 55 minutes, you use the filling to make enchiladas. This recipe makes a lot for just 1 or 2 people so think leftovers for just 30 minutes of effort!

Makes 8 servings
Cooking time: 30 minutes for soft tacos or tostadas, 55 minutes for enchiladas

-1 green pepper (3/4 c), chopped
-1 medium onion (1 c), chopped
-3 garlic cloves, minced
-1 tbsp olive oil
-1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
-1 can (14 1/4 oz) diced tomatoes with green chilies
-1/4 cup picante sauce
-1 tbsp chili powder
-1 tsp ground cumin
-1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
-2 cups cooked brown rice
-8 flour tortillas, warmed
-1 cup salsa
-1 cup reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese
-3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

My modifications and suggestions
-1 can diced tomatoes, no green chilis
-3/4 c frozen peppers
-No cheese
-No cilantro
-Corn tortillas
-3/4 cup uncooked brown rice = about 2 & a bit cups cooked brown rice
-If you're using Indian chili powder, halve the amount

I actually really like fresh cilantro but as you know you have to buy a huge bunch for 3 measly tbsp and it ends up going to waste. I abhor waste. Why can't we buy what we need? I also recommend using 3/4 cup frozen green peppers or mixed color green peppers if you want to reduce chopping time. Don't bother defrosting, they work just fine. And if you can, make the rice in advance. If you have a rice cooker, it will automatically turn off so you can prepare it the night before or in the morning before you head out to work.

In a large nonstick skillet, saute the green pepper, onion and garlic in oil until tender. Add the beans, tomatoes, picante sauce, chili powder, cumin and red pepper flakes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, until heated through and mixture thickens. Add rice; cook 5 minutes longer or until heated through.

If you don't have any more time, stop here. Heat up a few tortillas or tostadas and stuff them with this filling or eat as is. Serve with a bit a lettuce, guacamole, and/or any of your favorite Mexican condiments. This evening, this is where I stopped, but if you have time or are craving enchiladas, then continue below.

Spoon a rounded 1/2 cup down the center of each tortilla. Fold sides over filling and roll up. Place in a 13x9x2 inch baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray. Spoon salsa over each tortilla. Cover and bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with cheese and cilantro. Bake 2-3 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

The first time I made this recipe, I made the enchiladas. I found that the 1 cup salsa was not enough to cover the all the stuffed tortillas, and they came out a bit dry. The dry factor was probably not helped by the use of corn tortillas and they also tend to fall apart a bit because of their delicate nature. I didn't use cheese and didn't find them to be lacking in taste whatsoever.

The next time I make this in the enchiladas form, I will still use corn tortillas because I like their flavor but instead of covering them with salsa, I would use a can of (red) enchilada sauce instead. I have previously made enchiladas with corn tortillas. They were nice and moist if completely covered in the sauce.

Happy eating!

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