I have never been a fan of enchiladas. Something about soggy tortillas drowned in sauce and a lake of cheese has never appealed to me. My few encounters with “enchilada pie” were even worse, horrifying exemplars of failed cultural appropriation, generally consisting of a sloppy mixture of tortillas, canned beans and tomato paste, slathered with excessive amounts of cheese in an attempt to redeem the meal. The very mention was nearly enough to give me heartburn. Thus when enchilada pie was recommended as a highly successful and popular solar cooked meal, I immediately crinkled up my face with a less than tactful “Yuck! I can’t stand enchilada pie!” I may have even have made gagging noises to emphasize my point.
Thankfully, everyone else was too excited about enchilada pie to give up that easily. They encouraged me, as they did so many times over the course of my two months at Ampersand, to reconsider my knee-jerk reactions and inhibitions, my “can’t” and “won’t,” to try again before writing anything off for good. I am so deeply grateful for the ways they nudged me to grow… and for opening my eyes to how amazing enchilada pie can be. The secret, in my opinion, is a generous portion of fresh vegetables, the homemade chili sauce, and a modest portion of cheese. (Or none at all, which is how I usually enjoyed it.)
I ended up making this a few times during my time at Ampersand, as gung-ho as everyone else about the dish. It is indeed particularly suited to solar cooking, and the perfect way to use stale tortillas. And having the misfortune to encounter its inferior counterpart once again, I can proclaim with confidence that this is something else entirely. So whether you love enchilada pie or you are sure that you despise it, I encourage you to give this version a try. You might be delightfully surprised.
NOTE: I haven’t made this yet in a conventional oven, so I am guessing about the times. Might need a little tweaking. You’ve been warned. If anyone tries it out before I get around to trying it out, I would welcome feedback. Feel free to play around with the filling, using whatever local, seasonal veggies you like, and beans if you feel so inclined.
Corn tortillas (maybe 8-12, depending on the size and shape of baking dish)
1 onion, chopped
2-3 carrots, finely sliced or chopped (optional)
1 bunch greens (chard is my favorite in this!), stems and leaves chopped separately
Chili sauce (see below)
A few handfuls shredded cheese, or to taste (optional)
Cover bottom of a small greased pan with a layer of corn tortillas. (If round, break some in half to fill edges.) Cover with onion, carrots, stems, and or any other “firmer” veggies. Spoon a few tablespoons of chili sauce over the veggies and top with shredded cheese, if desired. Then start the layering process again with tortillas, a few cups chopped leafy greens, chili sauce, and optional cheese. Top with a final layer of tortillas, a few spoonfuls of chili sauce, and a generous layer of grated cheese, if desired. Cover with a lid, and bake at 375°F for 45-60 minutes, or until bubbly. Let cool for a few and prepare to have your mind blown.
Solar oven tried and true! 3-4 hours, covered, in a solar box oven. The chip sauce can be made on a parabolic.
A few tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons flour (gluten free is fine)
2 heaping teaspoons green or red chili powder of your choice
1 cup water
Saute onion in a couple tablespoons of oil until soft. Add another tablespoon or so of oil and stir in flour to form a paste. Let cook for a minute or two, stirring frequently, until it begins to smell nutty. Whisk chili powder in the cup of water and gradually pour the mixture into the pan, stirring constantly. Let cook for a couple more minutes, still stirring attentively, until it is heated through and begins to thicken.
Should you find yourself with extra sauce, it might be wonderful as part of a cazuela de tamal!