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Easy dinner recipes: Meatless Monday enchilada ideas for Cinco de Mayo

RecipesCookingCinco de MayoNoelle Carter
Great Meatless Monday enchilada ideas for Cinco de Mayo
With flavors this rich and hearty, you might never guess these Cinco de Mayo enchilada recipes are vegetarian

It's Cinco de Mayo! Celebrate with enchilada ideas that are also perfect for Meatless Monday. With flavors so rich and hearty, you might never guess they're vegetarian.

Hibiscus enchiladas with chipotle sauce: Jamaica flowers (of the hibiscus family) are typically found in vivid red teas, but these tart, dried buds are an unusually delicious filling for enchiladas. They're combined with peppers, onion and zucchini, then rolled in warm tortillas and topped with a spoonful of creamy chipotle sauce.

Classic red enchiladas: For a classic red enchilada, look no further than this recipe that has been handed down from generation to generation for 150 years. It may look simple, and it comes together easily, but the flavors are deliciously complex. And if you don't tell your guests, they may not guess dinner is completely vegetarian.

Tofu enchiladas: Crumbled firm tofu acts just like ground meat in this tempting recipe. Flavor the tofu with Mexican oregano, cilantro, black beans and diced red onion and tuck into tortillas drenched with rich enchilada sauce. Top the enchiladas with cheese and bake until the sauce is hot and bubbly. Hungry yet?

You can find the recipes below.

For more ideas, click through our easy dinner recipes gallery and check out our Dinner Tonight! page, devoted to recipes that can be made in an hour or less. Looking for a particular type of recipe? Comment below or email me at noelle.carter@latimes.com.

AMARANTA COCINA’S HIBISCUS ENCHILADAS WITH CHIPOTLE SAUCE

Total time: About 1 hour, plus rehydrating time | Serves 6

Note: Adapted from a recipe by executive chef Sarah Rocio Gomez of Amaranta Cocina Mexicana. Dried jamaica (hibiscus) flowers can be found at Latino and health-food markets.

CHIPOTLE SAUCE

2 tablespoons diced onions
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup tomato puree
1 chipotle pepper (canned in adobo sauce), chopped
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

1.In a large saute pan over medium heat, cook the onions and garlic until the onion is translucent, 3 to 5 minutes.

2. Stir in the tomato puree and chipotle pepper and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Continue to cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, to allow the flavors to blend and the sauce to reduce slightly; lower the heat if the bottom of the pan gets too hot so the sauce doesn't burn.

3. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the cream, then set aside. Makes about 1 1/4 cups sauce.

ENCHILADAS AND ASSEMBLY

2 1/2 cups (4 ounces) dried jamaica flowers
4 tablespoons ( 1/2 stick) butter
1/3 cup finely diced onion
1/2 cup finely diced zucchini
1/2 cup finely diced bell pepper (combination of red, yellow and green)
Salt, pepper
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups olive oil
12 corn tortillas
3/4 cup sour cream
Chipotle sauce
3/4 cup crumbled queso fresco, ranchero or other fresh cheese

1. In a medium saucepan, combine the jamaica flowers with 4 cups of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and simmer the flowers for 30 minutes to rehydrate completely. Strain the flowers, then allow them to cool to room temperature. Finely dice and set aside.

2. In a large saute pan, melt the butter over high heat and add the onions. Saute, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent. Reduce the heat to medium and add the diced flowers, zucchini and bell pepper, stirring occasionally and cooking until thoroughly warmed. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and one-fourth teaspoon pepper, or to taste. Set aside in a warm place.

3. Reheat the chipotle sauce in a medium saute pan over medium heat until warmed, stirring frequently. The warmed sauce should be pourable; if too thick, add just enough water to thin to the desired consistency. Keep warm.

4. In a medium saute pan, combine the oils and heat until a thermometer inserted reads 360 degrees. Dip the tortillas into the oil, one at a time, for just 1 second to warm through, then remove to a paper-towel-lined tray to absorb the excess oil.

5. To assemble the enchiladas, spoon one-half cup filling into the center of each tortilla, then roll the tortilla to form an enchilada. Place two enchiladas onto a plate for each serving, and divide the warmed chipotle sauce evenly over each serving. Spoon 2 tablespoons of sour cream over each serving, and sprinkle over 2 tablespoons crumbled queso fresco, or to taste. Serve immediately.

Each serving: 525 calories; 9 grams protein; 33 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams fiber; 41 grams fat; 16 grams saturated fat; 63 mg. cholesterol; 644 mg. sodium.

CLASSIC RED ENCHILADAS

Active work time: 35 minutes | Total preparation time: 1 hour | Makes 10 enchiladas

Note: The red enchilada ultimately symbolized the fusion of Mexican foods and some of the favored ingredients brought over from Spain such as olives, olive oil and cheeses. These enchiladas, done Californio-style, were served at every important event but especially at barbecues. Try to make the enchiladas the day before you need them as the red chile will soak into the tortillas and make the enchiladas even better. Buy the thinnest tortillas you can find or use homemade.

Olive oil
5 onions, chopped
Salt, pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
4 cups prepared red chile sauce, divided (see related recipe)
10 flour tortillas
1 1/2 pounds medium-sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup pitted black olives or home-cured olives

1. Oil 2 (15x10-inch) jellyroll pans.

2. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over low heat. Add the onions; cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and the oregano.

3. Spoon 1 cup of red chile sauce onto a wide dinner plate. Starting with 1 tortilla, dip both sides in the sauce. Place 1/2 cup of grated cheese, 2 olives and 1/3 cup of cooked onions down the middle of the tortilla. (We never added grated hard-boiled eggs, but many rancho families did.) Lastly, roll the sides of each tortilla over the filling. Place the enchilada, folded side down, on one of the pans. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Pour the remaining red chile sauce over the enchiladas. Sprinkle the remaining cheese in a strip down the middle of each enchilada. Decorate with any remaining olives. Cover the pans and refrigerate the enchiladas until you are ready to bake them. Let them stand at room temperature 1 hour before baking.

4. Heat the oven to 350 degrees near serving time.

5. Bake the enchiladas until they are puffed and the cheese has melted, 20 to 25 minutes.

Each enchilada: 458 calories; 885 mg sodium; 57 mg cholesterol; 30 grams fat; 13 grams saturated fat; 31 grams carbohydrates; 18 grams protein; 4.74 grams fiber.

TOFU ENCHILADAS

Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes | Serves 8

1 (12-ounce) carton extra-firm tofu
1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (28-ounce) can enchilada sauce
8 (6-inch) white corn tortillas
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained
1/2 cup minced red onion
1/2 cup light 4-cheese Mexican cheese
Shredded lettuce, low-fat sour cream, for garnish

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Drain any liquid from the tofu carton, then crumble the tofu. Place it on several layers of paper towels to drain. Pat the tofu with towels to remove excess moisture and let it drain about 15 minutes. Set aside 1/4 cup of the tofu.

3. Combine the remaining tofu, oregano, 2 tablespoons of cilantro and the salt in a bowl.

4. Heat the enchilada sauce in skillet until hot. Dip the tortillas, one at a time, into the sauce to lightly coat both sides. Spoon about 3 tablespoons of tofu down the center of the tortilla, then top the tofu with about 2 tablespoons of beans. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of red onion.

5. Roll up the tortilla and place it seam-side down in a 9-inch square baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.

6. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the top of the tortillas. Sprinkle them with the reserved crumbled tofu, then the cheese. Bake the enchiladas until the sauce is hot and bubbly, 20 to 25 minutes. Sprinkle the enchiladas with the remaining cilantro. Serve each on top of some lettuce and dolloped with a little sour cream.

Each enchilada: 237 calories; 587 mg sodium; 2 mg cholesterol; 6 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 35 grams carbohydrates; 13 grams protein; 7.51 grams fiber.

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