Asparagus and Chickpea Enchiladas 6.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post; tableware from Crate and Barrel

Weeknight Vegetarian Apr 17, 2013

Even though they are traditionally filled with meat, poultry or seafood -- or perhaps black beans and cheese -- enchiladas can also showcase seasonal vegetables. These are lighter than most, with about half the cheese typically called for, but that means you can better appreciate how well the tangy, spicy tomatillo sauce pairs with spring asparagus.

Serve with brown rice and black beans.

Make Ahead: The sauce can be refrigerated for up to five days. The enchiladas can be assembled and refrigerated for up to three days.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 6 servings

  • 1 large onion, halved
  • 2 pounds tomatillos, husked, stemmed and rinsed
  • 3 cloves unpeeled garlic
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed but left whole
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves, plus more for optional garnish
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Sea salt
  • Homemade or no-salt-added vegetable broth (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried ground ancho chili pepper (may substitute chili powder)
  • 1 pound asparagus (woody ends trimmed), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked or no-salt-added canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 4 ounces smoked mozzarella or smoked Gouda, grated
  • Nonstick cooking oil spray, for the tortillas
  • 12 corn tortillas, 6 inches in diameter
  • 4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated


Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Have a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish on hand.

Position an oven rack 4 to 6 inches from the broiler; preheat the broiler.

To make the sauce, cut one onion half into large chunks, and reserve the other half. Combine the onion chunks with the tomatillos, garlic and jalapeno pepper on the baking sheet and broil for a few minutes until the vegetables have blackened in spots. Turn them over and continue broiling until the tomatillos have turned khaki-colored and have softened, another few minutes. Let cool slightly, then transfer the vegetables to a food processor, along with the cilantro and honey.

Puree until smooth. Season with salt to taste. Transfer to a large liquid measuring cup; add vegetable broth as needed to yield a total of 4 cups of sauce. Transfer to a container that is deep enough to hold it and wide enough to hold a flat tortilla.

Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees; make sure an oven rack is in the middle position.

To make the filling, thinly slice the remaining onion half. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and when the oil shimmers, add the onion and ground chili pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion starts to soften. Stir in the asparagus and chickpeas, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until the asparagus just barely starts to become crisp-tender, a minute or two. Transfer the onion mixture to a mixing bowl, let cool slightly, then stir in the smoked mozzarella or Gouda, and season with salt to taste.

When ready to assemble, use the nonstick cooking oil spray to coat the tortillas lightly on each side. Stack them on a plate and microwave on HIGH for 90 seconds, or until hot and softened. Let them cool slightly.

Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce in the casserole dish. Lay a tortilla onto the surface of the reserved 4 cups of sauce so that it gets lightly coated, turn it over to coat the other side, then lay it on a plate. Scoop 1/3 cup of the filling onto the tortilla, then roll up the tortilla and place it, seam side down, in the casserole dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling, creating two rows of 6 enchiladas in the casserole dish. Pour the remaining sauce on top of the enchiladas and sprinkle with the jack cheese.

Bake until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese has melted and browned in spots, about 30 minutes. Garnish with cilantro leaves, if desired, and serve hot.

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Recipe Source

From Food editor Joe Yonan, author of the upcoming "Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook" (Ten Speed Press, August 2013).

Tested by Joe Yonan.

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