Weeknight Vegetarian: Rolling asparagus into enchiladas


Asparagus and Chickpea Enchiladas: Spring’s iconic vegetable finds its way into a classic Hispanic dish. (Deb Lindsey/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)
April 16, 2013

Look for vegetarian enchiladas at a restaurant, and you’re most likely to find black bean, perhaps spinach. Mushroom if you’re lucky. But the combination of spicy sauce, corn masa and cheese could surely suit all sorts of vegetables in every season, couldn’t it? I’ve been mystified as to why the options are usually limited.

Thankfully, I love to make enchiladas at home, so this spring, when I started thinking about what new treatments I’d give asparagus as it starts to flood farmers markets, I knew one route would be to roll it up into tortillas. With an enchilada sauce made from tomatillos, and perhaps a touch of smoked cheese along with the requisite Monterey Jack, they’d surely be a winner.

But as much as I love asparagus, could it carry the dish on its own? Filling for enchiladas needs to be substantial, and since there was no meat, I wanted to bulk it up. Chopped eggs go nicely with asparagus, but then the recipe would be harder for vegan readers to adapt. Chewy pieces of firm tofu seemed like they might overpower the tender spears; silken tofu would turn the filling too custardy.

The answer: chickpeas. They add a little heft — and a dose of protein. Their creamy-starchy texture matches the weight of the asparagus.

The result is something that tastes so good you’d swear it’s traditional. If you don’t believe me, just call the dish by its Spanish name, which I just made up: Enchiladas de Esparragos y Garbanzos.

Joe Yonan is the Food and Dining editor of The Washington Post and the author of "Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook." He writes the Food section's Weeknight Vegetarian column.
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