Enchiladas Verdes (Green Enchiladas with Chicken & Cheese)

Enchiladas verdes has been one of my all-time favorite dishes for almost my entire life. So, naturally, I am drawn to every version that I come across! I liked how this version included cheese in the filling rather than melted over the top. These enchiladas were also extra saucy- loved it.

This recipe was adapted from Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street magazine. I used poached chicken thighs but rotisserie chicken meat could be used as a shortcut.

We ate the enchiladas garnished with chopped onion and cilantro with rice and refried beans on the side. I cooked the rice in the chicken poaching liquid which made it extra flavorful. Great.

Yield: 4 servings (8 enchiladas)

  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 medium-large poblano chilies (about 12 to 14 oz), stemmed, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 pound tomatillos, husked, cored, and chopped
  • 1 medium yellow or white onion, chopped, plus more for garnish, if desired
  • 8 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock, plus an additional 2 cups if poaching the chicken
  • 1 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves and stems, rinsed and dried, plus more for garnish
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound boneless chicken (I used 3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs) (or 1 1/2 cups finely chopped cooked chicken)
  • 6 oz Monterey jack or whole-milk mozzarella cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 T hot sauce, such as Cholula or Tapatío (I used Chipotle Cholula- my favorite)
  • 8 6-inch corn tortillas
  • lime wedges, to serve, optional
  • sour cream or Mexican crema, for serving, optional
  • rice and refried beans, for serving, optional
  1. Place the chicken in a medium saucepan and cover with about 2 cups of chicken stock. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce to low, cover and cook until the thickest part of the meat registers 165 degrees for thighs or 160 degrees for breasts, about 15 to 20 minutes. Let the chicken cool in the liquid until just warm, then finely chop the meat. Reserve the cooking liquid. (Alternatively, 1 1/2 cups of chopped rotisserie chicken meat can be substituted.)
  2. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees with a rack in the center position.
  3. In a large pot over medium-high, combine 1 tablespoon of the oil, the chopped poblanos, cored & chopped tomatillos, chopped onion, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are beginning to soften, 5 to 8 minutes.
  4. Stir in the cumin and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  5. Add the stock and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have completely softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
  6. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and process until smooth, about 1 minute.
  7. Add the cilantro and continue to process until smooth, about 1 minute. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  8. Spread 1 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a 13-by-9-inch baking dish; set aside. (I used 4 individual enameled cast iron serving dishes, placing 1/4 cup of the sauce in the bottom of each dish.)
  9. In a medium bowl, toss together the chicken, cheese, hot sauce, 3/4 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper; set aside.
  10. Brush both sides of the tortillas with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, then arrange them on a rimmed baking sheet (its fine to overlap them slightly). Cover tightly with foil and warm in the oven just until soft and pliable, about 3 minutes. (This step is important in order to make sure that the tortillas are pliable enough to fill and roll.)
  11. Uncover the tortillas; reserve the foil. Lay the tortillas out on a large cutting board (or 2) or a clean counter.
  12. Divide the chicken mixture evenly among the tortillas (about 3 heaping tablespoons each), arranging the filling in a line along the bottom edge of each tortilla. (I used a 3 T cookie scoop.)
  13. Working one at a time, roll up the tortillas to enclose the filling and place seam side down in a tight row down the center of the prepared baking dish. (or 2 enchiladas per individual baking dish)
  14. Spoon 1/2 cup of the sauce over the enchiladas. (or 2 T per individual baking dish)
  15. Cover tightly with a layer of parchment paper topped with the reserved foil. Bake until the cheese begins to melt out of the ends, about 15 minutes.
  16. Meanwhile, cook 1 cup of rice in 2 cups of chicken poaching liquid, if desired. (I used white Basmati rice.) (I also warmed refried beans at this point.)
  17. Uncover and spread the remaining sauce over the enchiladas. (or about 2 T per individual baking dish) Re-cover and let stand for 5 minutes.
  18. Serve with lime wedges and sour cream or Mexican crema, garnished with chopped onion and cilantro, as desired.

Pasta with Pestocado (Avocado Pesto) & Broccoli

According to America’s Test Kitchen, Pestocado is the “hottest new ‘it’ sauce.” Avocado replaces the cheese in this full-flavored pesto. It was creamy and delicious.

The recipe was adapted from America’s Test Kitchen’s cookbook, More Mediterranean, via americastestkitchen.com. I modified the method and used linguine fini, Meyer lemon, walnuts, and two garlic cloves. Easy and great.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 T table salt, for cooking broccoli and pasta
  • 12 to 16 ounces broccoli, florets cut into 1-inch pieces, stalks peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 pound spaghettini, or spaghetti
  • 1 ripe avocado, halved and pitted
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios or walnuts, toasted and chopped, divided
  • 3 anchovy fillets, rinsed
  • 2 tsp toasted fennel seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon juice (I used Meyer lemon)
  • 1/4 cup (4 T) extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat an oven to 375 degrees F. Spread the nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool. Coarsely chop.
  2. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add 1 tablespoon table salt and broccoli stalks and cook for 1 minute. Add florets and cook until stalks and florets are tender, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Using slotted spoon, transfer broccoli to colander set over bowl (do not discard boiling water). Let broccoli drain and cool slightly, about 5 minutes; set aside.
  4. Add pasta to reserved boiling water and cook, stirring often, until al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain pasta and return it to pot.
  5. Process 1 cup broccoli, 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, avocado, basil, 1/4 cup chopped nuts, anchovies, fennel seeds, garlic, lemon zest and juice, and coarse salt in food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  6. With processor running, slowly add oil until incorporated, about 15 seconds.
  7. Add pesto to pasta in pot and toss until sauce evenly coats pasta, adjusting consistency with remaining reserved cooking water as needed.
  8. Stir in remaining broccoli and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup pistachios. Garnish with fresh basil and drizzle with extra oil, as desired. Serve.

One-Pot Creamy Pasta & Greens

This dish makes creamed spinach the main event rather than a decadent side. This version is actually less indulgent as well. It incorporates milk instead of cream and uses pasta and its starch as a thickener.

The original article actually states that classic creamed spinach isn’t that good. :/ I love creamed spinach! For years, my husband and I used to celebrate his birthday at a steakhouse- the creamed spinach saved me. (I’m not a steak fan!)

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Ali Slagle. I used loads of fresh greens from my CSA share rather than frozen chopped spinach. We ate it as a vegetarian main dish (with roasted CSA veggies on the side) but it could also be served as a hearty side, of course. Creamy and filling.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6 as a main dish

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 7 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 medium shallots, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 5 cups whole milk, plus more as needed (I added an additional cup of 1% milk)
  • 1 pound stemmed and sliced fresh greens (I used a combination of kale, collard and cauliflower greens) OR 10 ounces frozen chopped spinach
  • 2 wide lemon peel strips
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • dash of red pepper flakes, optional
  • 10 to 12 ounces ditalini, orzo or pearl couscous
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  1. If using fresh greens, stem, slice, and wash them.
  2. Place the greens in a steamer basket in a large pot (I used a pasta pot); cook until wilted, about 10 to 12 minutes.
  3. Strain the steamed greens to drain as much excess liquid as possible. (I used a ricer for this task.)
  4. Chop the steamed and strained greens; set aside.
  5. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallot, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until softened, 2 to 4 minutes.
  6. Add the 5 cups milk, chopped greens (or spinach), lemon peel, nutmeg, red pepper flakes, if using, freshly ground black pepper, and 2 teaspoons salt. Cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up the greens (or frozen spinach) with your spoon, until the greens have softened and the milk is just simmering, 5 to 10 minutes.
  7. Add the pasta and cook, stirring often and vigorously, until the pasta is al dente, 20 to 25 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a gentle simmer. If it looks dry at any point, add more milk. (I ultimately added an additional cup of milk.) The mixture will continue to thicken as it sits, so it’s okay if the sauce looks a little soupy.
  8. Once the pasta is cooked, turn off the heat, discard the lemon peels, and stir in the Parmesan until melted.
  9. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve with more Parmesan.

Roasted Eggplant & Lentil Soup with Fried Sage

I made this healthy and hearty soup with beautiful eggplant from a friend’s garden. I was also able to make one of my favorite eggplant dishes with her amazing harvest, Eggplant and Wild Mushroom “Meatballs.”

The soup was initially more fluid, but I preferred it re-heated and cooked down, as pictured. We scooped it up with fresh Portuguese Rolls. Perfect.

The recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier.

Yield: Serves 4

  • one 1 1/4-pound eggplant, quartered lengthwise (I used 2 small)
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 cup French green lentils (5 1/2 ounces) 
  • 14 large sage leaves, divided, plus more, as desired, for garnish
  • 2 cups chicken stock (can substitute vegetable stock for a vegetarian version)
  • 1 cup 1% milk 
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  2. Place the eggplant quarters on a rimmed baking sheet, skin side down. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until the eggplant is very tender, about 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, cover the lentils with 2 inches of water. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 2 sage leaves and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain the lentils in a colander and discard the sage leaves.
  4. Scrape the eggplant flesh into a blender; discard the skin. Add 1 cup of the stock and puree until smooth; transfer to a clean saucepan. (I used a Vitamix.)
  5. Add the lentils and the remaining 1 cup of stock to the blender and puree until smooth. Add the lentil puree to the eggplant puree in the saucepan.
  6. Stir the milk and lemon juice into the soup and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper; keep the soup hot over low heat, stirring occasionally.
  7. In a small skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the remaining 12 sage leaves and cook over moderate heat until crisp, about 20 seconds per side.
  8. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with the fried sage leaves and serve.

The soup can be refrigerated overnight. Reheat gently.

Greek Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

This flavor-packed weeknight dish was included in Milk Street Magazine’s “Tuesday Nights” series which features weeknight dishes with bold and fresh flavors. I have found that meatballs that incorporate a panade, hydrated breadcrumbs, are very tender- great.

The recipe was adapted from Milk Street Magazine, contributed by Calvin Cox. According to the original article, these Greek oblong shaped meatballs are known as soutzoukakia smyrneika. Traditionally, they are served with tiganites patates (potatoes fried in olive oil). We ate them with crusty bread to sop up every bit of sauce. The dish could also be served with roasted potatoes or a rice or orzo pilaf.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 large garlic cloves, 2 finely gratedn(I used a garlic press), 1 thinly sliced
  • 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, divided
  • 2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (I used fire-roasted)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the panko, egg and 1/2 cup water, then mix until homogeneous. Let stand for 5 minutes to allow the panko to hydrate. (This step is very important in order to create soft and tender meatballs.)
  2. Add the pork, cumin, the grated (or pressed) garlic, 1/2 teaspoon pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon oregano, 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, then mix well.
  3. Divide into 11 or 12 portions (each about a scant 1/4 cup), then shape each into a 2 1/2-inch-long cigar (oblong) shape.
  4. In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering. (Non-stick can be used; I used a 12-inch stainless all-in-one pan.)
  5. Add the meatballs and cook without disturbing until browned on the bottoms, 2 to 3 minutes. Using tongs, flip the meatballs and cook until browned on the second sides, another 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Remove the skillet from the heat, transfer the meatballs to a paper towel–lined plate and set aside.
  7. Return the skillet to medium-high and add the sliced garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant and starting to brown, 1 to 2 minutes.
  8. Add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  9. Stir in the tomatoes, cinnamon, honey and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and black pepper, then bring to a simmer.
  10. Place the meatballs in the pan and return to a simmer. Cover and simmer, undisturbed, until the centers of the meatballs reach 160°F, 12 to 14 minutes.
  11. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper.
  12. Transfer the meatballs and sauce to serving dish. Drizzle with additional oil, if desired, and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon oregano.

Weeknight Ragù

This comfort food dish was very well-received in my house. Everyone in my family was fighting over the leftovers! It was easy, full-flavored, and absolutely delicious.

The recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Chris Morocco. I modified the proportions and substituted sour cream for the heavy cream. I also adjusted the consistency of the finished dish with pasta cooking water. Great.

Yield: Serves 8

  • 6 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 3/4 lbs ground pork, turkey, beef, or chicken, preferably dark meat
  • kosher salt
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 8 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 Calabrian chiles in oil, finely chopped, or 1 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 7 T double-concentrated tomato paste
  • 7 T sour cream or heavy cream
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lbs (20 to 24 oz) rigatoni, gemelli or other short pasta
  • 2 oz Parmesan, finely grated, plus more for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • basil leaves, for serving
  1. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large Dutch oven over medium to medium-high.
  2. Add ground meat in 12–14 pieces (patties), spacing evenly, and season with salt.
  3. Let cook, undisturbed, until deeply browned underneath, about 3 minutes.
  4. Turn over and cook until deeply browned on opposite side, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate. (It won’t be cooked through.)
  5. Add remaining 3 tablespoons of oil to pot over medium heat.
  6. Cook onion, stirring often, until softened and just beginning to turn golden around the edges, about 5 minutes.
  7. Add garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  8. Add chiles/red pepper flakes and tomato paste and cook, stirring often, until paste is slightly darkened in color, about 3 minutes.
  9. Return meat to the pot and break up into small pieces.
  10. Add sour cream/heavy cream and 2 1/4 cups water.
  11. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat, and simmer gently until liquid is reduced by one third and flavors have come together, 15–20 minutes.
  12. Season ragù with salt and pepper.
  13. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 2 cups pasta cooking liquid.
  14. Add pasta to ragù along with 1 cup pasta cooking liquid and Parmesan.
  15. Cook, stirring and adding more pasta cooking liquid if needed, until sauce coats pasta, about 2 minutes.
  16. Transfer to a serving dish or individual bowls. Garnish with basil and reserved Parmesan. Serve.

Chicken & Rice with Leeks & Salsa Verde

I have a few quick weeknight meals to share- perfect for the busy holiday season. I was drawn to this dish because I had several beautiful leeks from my CSA share. I served it with roasted broccoli and Brussels sprouts on the side.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Deb Perelman. I have saved a million fresh sauce recipes to make someday but, regretfully, seldom make one. :/ The salsa verde added so much to this classic comfort food dish!

Because the original recipe incorporated a lot of rice, I ultimately made a second batch of chicken and sauce to serve with the leftovers. Next time, I would double the chicken (to 3 pounds) and the sauce (2 cups of herbs) from the start. The recipe below is updated for this change.

Yield: Serves 4 (1 1/2 pounds chicken) or 8 (2 1/2 to 3 pounds of chicken)

For the Chicken & Rice:

  • 1 1/2 lbs to 3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 T unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 to 3 large leeks, white and pale green parts only, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice, rinsed until water runs clear (I used Basmati rice)
  • 2 cups chicken stock with 3/4 cups water (or 2 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth)

For the Salsa Verde: (make 1/2 recipe below for 1 1/2 pounds chicken)

  • 2 oil-packed anchovy fillets
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 2 T drained capers
  • crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups tender herb leaves (such as parsley, cilantro, basil and/or mint)
  • 8 T extra-virgin olive oil
  1. Pat the chicken thighs with a paper towel to absorb excess moisture. Season with salt and pepper. (My chicken thighs were very large, so I cut them in half crosswise.)
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large high-sided skillet over medium-high heat. (I used a large, low and wide enameled cast iron pot with a glass lid.)
  3. Add leeks and half of lemon zest, season with salt and pepper, and mix to coat leeks in butter. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are somewhat tender, about 5 minutes.
  4. Remove lid, increase heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and just starting to take on color, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add rice and cook, stirring often, 3 minutes, then add broth, scraping up any browned bits.
  6. Nestle the chicken thighs (“skin side up”) into rice mixture. Bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until rice is tender and chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Remove from heat.
  7. Cut remaining 1 tablespoon of butter into small pieces and scatter over mixture. Re-cover and let sit 10 minutes.
  8. While the chicken and rice is resting, make the salsa verde. Pulse anchovies, garlic, capers, a few pinches of red pepper flakes, and remaining lemon zest in a food processor until finely chopped.
  9. Add herbs; process until a paste forms.
  10. With motor running, gradually stream in oil until loosened to a thick sauce.
  11. Add half of lemon juice; season salsa verde with salt to taste.
  12. Drizzle remaining lemon juice over chicken and rice. Serve drizzled with salsa verde.

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