Before I share the recipe for a vegetarian red sauce and enchilada dish that was out of this world let me start by saying: being without power for an extended period of time is a nightmare.
I was one of the unfortunate many who live in the Northeast part of the United States that lost power thanks to Winter Storm Riley. Though I’m definitely not thankful for the storm I am thankful for the men and women who came to the aid of the hundreds of thousands of folks like myself who were without power for up to five days – though some are still without it to this day.
I did some thinking during that time about what the people of Puerto Rico must be going through – and not to make a political statement but when you feel like your government abandons you who do you turn to? I understand that feeling. I lost my power on a Friday afternoon and according to my power company I was supposed to get it back on Sunday. By Saturday night, my family was cold and eating whatever quick easy thing we could find in our cabinets. Sunday came and went without a single hint of juice flowing through the lines outside my home. The power company told us Monday and on we pressed with the single thought of staying positive even though we could see the writing on the wall – there were still tens of thousands of people without it in our county.
By Monday night the power company told us that the following night we would have it, and my hopes had all but faded. At this point I was all but certain that we would not be getting it back anytime soon with another winter storm on the horizon. Tuesday was the eve of a storm that promised at least 6-12 inches and the electric company again changed their tune by telling us they were not sure when we would get power. At this point we lost all hope.
When the storm started on Wednesday we were certain the power would not come on. But the power company re-assured us they were working on it. I reached out to our local state assemblywoman to plead for some sort of answer. How long will we sit in the cold? By the middle of the afternoon the sounds of appliances clicked on throughout the house. The refrigerator, full of spoiled frozen and warm food, suddenly sprang to life. The mounds of laundry could suddenly be washed. A life could return to normal.
But it wasn’t without a cost. A realization that there are still people in the world struggling with the same issue. I stopped a lineman who had come in from out of the county and told him I appreciated everything he did to get the power back on. It was the least I could do. If I knew where he would be next I would bake him bread or cook him a meal – but alas they were moving on. There’s not much I can do thank them other than to speak the words. What can we do to thank those that have helped us so much? What can we do to help those who are in dire need without power like I was? Those are the questions I ponder on a snowy March day.
On I press and I give you:
Red’s Enchilada Sauce
What you’ll need:
3 Tbs. All-purpose Flour
2 Tbs. ground Chili powder (this is going to be a dark red sauce)
1 tsp. Cumin
1/2 tsp. garlic powder or a clove of garlic
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
2 Tbs. tomato paste
2 cups of vegetable broth
2 Tbs. of Fajita seasoning
Dash of rice vinegar
Dash of Lemon
salt and pepper to taste
- Start with heating a sauce pan to medium heat.
- Take enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Once the oil is hot and begins to give off a scent pour in the chili powder, flour, cumin, garlic, oregano, cinnamon and tomato paste.
- Continuously stir the ingredients around as the flavors all begin to get to know one another.
- After 2 minutes of stirring add the vegetable broth and turn the heat up to medium high.
- Once the broth begins to show signs of boiling and the tomato paste has begun to break down, drop the heat down to low adding the fajita seasoning, vinegar and lemon.
- Let the sauce simmer and thicken for at least 5 minutes or until you get the consistency that you are looking for.
- Taste – add salt and pepper.
- Drop the heat down and keep the sauce just warm enough to add to you enchiladas or you can turn it off and store for later.
Red’s Vegetarian Enchiladas
What you’ll need:
1 Red Onion (diced)
2 Tbs. Olive oil
3 Tbs. of butter (optional if you are looking to reduce fat)
Dash of Cayenne pepper
2 Cups of Vegetable Broth
2 Cans of Black Beans (washed and drained)
1 Can of Medium Tomatoes and Chilies (such as Ro-Tel)
Bag of frozen corn
2 tsp. fajita seasoning
At least 6 Fajita wrappers for stuffing
9 x 13 Baking Dish
2 Bags of Mexican cheese (or whatever you cheese you prefer)
- Heat a skillet up on medium with the olive oil and butter (if using) until the butter is melted and oil is warm. Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes then add the garlic be careful not to burn the garlic. If it gets too close to burning drop the temperature.
- After the onion is translucent and the garlic is cooked add the dash of pepper, vegetable broth, black beans and tomatoes with chilies.
- Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Turn up the heat until the broth begins to bubble then drop the heat down so it can simmer.
- While simmering, take out your fajita wrappers and line your 9 x 13 baking dish with fajitas. You can overlap them and shove them in like sardines but keep in mind that hot veggies are coming in soon so be prepared.
- Once the broth is almost gone add the cinnamon, basil, cilantro, corn and fajita seasoning.
- Stir the mixture and simmer until the corn has warmed up, be careful not to burn your vegetables.
- Now you are going to stuff the fajitas with veggies. Go down the line filling each one until you have put an equal amount in each. Add cheese to each if you like, otherwise top them with your sauce but be liberal we will add more sauce again.
- Next throw some cheese on top, you can use one bag if you didn’t put them in the enchiladas already.
- Cheese on top and put in the oven for 30 minutes.
- Depending on your oven you may want to adjust – you are looking for the cheese to melt but not burn.