A few months ago, one of our kids decided to give up eating meat temporarily during a food unit at school. Temporarily turned into permanently. And then she decided to also give up gluten.
The meat piece of the equation was pretty easy as we try to eat seafood around here and I am usually pretty good at using beans. It was also easy for me to prepare dinners as usual with some form of substitute for Lauren to get her the protein that she needed. The gluten piece combined with the meat piece has posed some challenges. The primary challenge is how to get her protein without vegetarian substitutes that contain gluten. Many of the gluten free recipes that I have come across are meat based. I keep finding that I can take out one item but not the other. When I do find something that is both gluten free and vegetarian, often times it is not something that my husband, who is a firm believer that there should be meat on the table at dinner, really wants to eat. And let’s be honest. Seafood for eight people (in a land locked state) is not cheap.
I was excited to come across this recipe for sweet potato and black bean enchiladas. It sounded substantial enough to satisfy my husband while still being both vegetarian and (prepared with corn tortillas) gluten free. After some hesitation and grumbling that we were eating vegetarian last night, things turned out alright. Rob and the boys liked dinner just as much as Lauren did. Théa, who is almost four, had seconds. I would say this recipe is a winner.
These are simple enchiladas that can be prepared in steps or entirely in advance. The key to the tasty flavor is roasting the potatoes with onions and spices. I wasn’t thinking ahead when I cut up my potatoes, but it really helps to cut them into small, bite-size pieces. Especially if you are using those ridiculously small corn tortillas (which were the only corn tortillas that I could find). You don’t want to end up with only two pieces of potato in your enchilada. This may or may not have happened to me. I also may or may not have found an entire pizza upside-down in my oven after I preheated it. Smoke may or may not have been billowing through my house as I tried not to set off the fire alarm during nap time. I love it when a plan comes together.
I added an additional can of black beans to my potatoes (two large equaling two pounds total) for a total of two cans of beans. When I make this again, I will add frozen corn to the mix and probably make some of the enchiladas with flour tortillas. The recipe suggested a mix of corn and flour, which would probably be best if you aren't gluten free. The corn tortillas added a nice sweetness to the dish but simultaneously fell apart and were impossible to cut. An odd combination, I’ll admit, but annoying just the same.
The boys all thought that this would be better with either shredded chicken or shredded pork. I’m not sure I agree but it would be easy enough to make this in two pans, one vegetarian and one not. Cooking the meat in some of the tomatillo salsa would add a nice flavor to the inside of the enchilada as well.
I ended up with two (full) small pans of enchiladas and enough leftover filling to bake in a bread pan with salsa and cheese. This would be delicious served over brown rice for lunch. Overall, the vote on the recipe was 6 votes to keep, 1 vote to keep if changed (add meat – not my husband, by the way), and 1 abstention due to a keen interest in dessert. Pretty good results for a gluten-free, vegetarian dish in a meat eating family.