Thursday, January 5, 2012

Quinoa White Bean and Spinach Enchiladas

 I've recently been doing a lot of experimenting with making enchiladas out of whatever's in the fridge.  A couple of weeks ago we had enchiladas made of left-over lentil loaf with chipotle sauce,  last week we had a slightly less successful but still tasty version with mushrooms and cranberry beans, and now we've hit on the big winner - quinoa, white beans, and spinach.  I love the play of textures and flavors between these ingredients, and the final dish is loaded with protein, good carbs, micronutrients and fiber.

One of the things I like about making enchiladas is that they're versatile and you can make use of odds and ends; a half an onion, a few random potatoes, half a can of tomato paste.  They can be prepared in advance and baked when ready.  AND, as it turns out, enchiladas can actually be a food that you feel good AFTER eating, and they don't need to be covered in cheese. *

One of the key strategies I employ in the kitchen is making extra.  If I'm making brown rice, quinoa, or any other grain, I always cook a cup or so extra.  That way I can add grains to my fruit salad for breakfast, bulk up a salad, or add texture to a soup.  I do the same with dried beans - soaking some over night even if I don't have a particular plan for them,  reserving some of the cooked beans for hummus, soup, salad, etc.  Little actions like this go a long way towards making whole, unprocessed foods more accessible so that a mean meal can be whipped up on the fly in case of a hunger emergency.  Cooking in such a way, a meal like these enchiladas pulls together quite easily, even for those of us who "don't have time to cook healthily."  


This is more of a strategy and encouragement for you to get creative with what you have on hand - so by all means get crazy with substitutions.   Everything is optional. 
 That said, I'll tell you what went into these...

1 yellow onion - medium dice
6-8 oz mixed mushrooms - sliced
2 cups cooked white beans
2 cups cooked quinoa
2-3 orange tomatoes - coarse chopped
A whole bunch of fresh baby spinach - coarse chopped
Seasoning:  cumin, coriander, salt, cayenne pepper

  • Sweat the onions and mushrooms on medium/low heat with a big pinch of salt and a small glug of oil until onions are soft and the mushrooms have released a lot of their liquid
  • Add the spices to taste, starting with a teaspoon or so of each and adding more as necessary, and saute for another minute or two, until spices are fragrant
  • Add the tomatoes, beans, and quinoa and bring everything up to a nice simmer.  No need to cook them for a long time, but it's nice to bring it all to temperature so that the flavors being to meld.  Taste and adjust seasoning, and remove from heat.
  • Once the pan is off the heat, fold in the spinach.  It will wilt with the heat of the sauce, and will wilt further in the oven, so do your best to avoid cooking it at this stage.


One 28 oz can of italian plum tomatoes
One can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

- Puree the two together, and that's it!

1 yellow onion - small dice
2-3 cloves garlic - minced
1/2 - 1 jalapeno - small dice
1 can tomatoes - crushed, fire roasted, cherry, peeled, large, small, homemade - use your favorite 

- Sweat the vegetables with a bit of oil and a pinch of salt
- Add the tomatoes and any additional seasoning
- Taste and adjust seasoning
- Puree if you wish or serve chunky

  • Spoon a cup of the enchilada sauce into the bottom of your baking dish.
  • Dip each tortilla in the sauce, fill with filling, roll and place in pan
  • Bake at 350 until heated through
  • Enjoy!

* An interesting bit of info:  The Harvard School of Public Health has finally come out and said that milk/dairy is not part of a healthy diet.  It's time to call into question all of the brain washing we underwent as children in primary school when we learned about how good milk was for us.  All of that "education" is paid for with billions of marketing dollars from the milk and diary industry.  Just sayin.  You can check out the Harvard article here.  


  1. WOW, what an inspirational blog! Thanks for these wonderful recipes Lacey. I have friends (most of whom are vegetarian) visiting next weekend and I think I will try this enchilada dish... looks delish! :)
    By the way, which type of tortillas do you use? Any tips or suggestions?
    ...So glad we met!! :)
    - Bano

    1. Hey thanks Bano! It was awesome meeting you as well. I love finding people I can be snarky and rowdy with at a game night on first meeting :)

      I like to make these with whole wheat tortillas, but you can go brown rice or corn if you're not down for the gluten. Brown rice tortillas, however, won't hold up all that well as leftovers, so you'll have to eat them all at one go.

      I hope you enjoy them!

  2. Lacey!
    Thanks for this one. It's in the oven and we're waiting impatiently. The man and I are very appreciative of your blog, esp. since we've cut out most meat and dairy. Thank you!

    - Jaime D