If I was to go to an authentic Mexican restaurant and order something chances are if they have enchiladas verde on the menu that’s what I’ll get. If I was to choose a type of enchilada to make at home chances are – 9 times out of 10 – I’ll choose to make enchiladas verde. I love tomatillos. I love that tangy green sauce.
But because I like variety I decided it’s about time that I give enchiladas rojas a try. A red sauced enchilada dish. I knew from tasting them before that there can be a smokiness to the sauce that comes from dried chilies, but I wasn’t totally sure what kind of dried chilies to use. Chile de arbol? Ancho? Guajillo? Pasilla? I decided on a mix because why not.
I suppose having a drawer full of dried chilies comes in handy from time to time.
If you don’t have a drawer full of dried chilies or don’t have access to a wide variety of chilies where you live, just use one – either the guajillo or ancho chilies if possible. Make sure you soak the dried chilies so they’re pliable and remove the majority of the seeds before blending. Some seeds are okay but don’t try to be a hero and leave all the seeds in. You probably aren’t as tough as you think you are – especially when it comes to chile de arbol.
Another important part of this sauce – to me, anyway – is the garlic. I love that it has tons of garlic. If you need to cut back on the garlic, that’s fine. Just use a couple cloves instead of the 8 that I put in the recipe.
I’ll always suggest using homemade corn tortillas because they taste so darn good but you can definitely use store bought corn tortillas for these too.
As for the filling on these bad boys … you don’t really have to use butternut squash and kale. I think you should because it’s amazing. But if you want something more traditional then I suggest using the fillings from my other enchilada recipes for inspiration. (Here and here.)
The red sauce I made here is using homemade tomato sauce. I think it might have a lighter color because of that. If you use canned tomato sauce your sauce will likely be darker. If you do end up using canned tomato sauce make sure you taste for the level of saltiness in the sauce as there’s quite a lot of salt in most store bought tomato sauces. One recipe of my homemade sauce makes about 750 ml of tomato sauce. Generally the cans of tomato sauce I buy are about 680 ml. You can add some water to make up the difference if you want. It won’t be such a big deal but you should have somewhere around 3 1/4 cups of tomato sauce to start with.
- 3¼ cups tomato sauce
- 8 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 onion, peeled and quartered
- 1 dried pasilla chile, soaked, stems and seeds removed
- 3 dried guajillo chiles, soaked, stems and seeds removed
- 1 dried chile de arbol, soaked, stems and seeds removed
- 1 dried ancho chile, soaked, stems and seeds removed
- 2 vegetable bouillon cubes
- 1 cup water
- Combine tomato sauce, chilies, garlic, onion and vegetable bouillon cubes in a high powered blender. Blend at high speed for a minute. Add water and blend again until smooth. Check for taste and consistency. It should be no thicker than tomato sauce usually is.
Now that we have the backbone of this recipe – that salsa rojas – prepared now we can get down to business with the rest of the enchiladas.
Butternut Squash & Kale Enchiladas Rojas
Roast the butternut squash and sauté the kale for a unique – but super simple – filling in these enchiladas.
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
- 1 large bunch kale, tough ribs removed and sliced thinly
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 16 corn tortillas
- 1/4 cup Daiya pepper jack shreds (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place cubed butternut squash on prepared baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes until tender.
- Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium heat heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Sauté garlic and kale until kale has just barely wilted. Remove from heat.
- In another skillet over medium heat brown the corn tortillas. Brush each tortilla with remaining olive oil before frying.
- Place prepared salsa rojas in a large shallow dish. Using tongs, dip the browned tortilla in the sauce and let excess drip off or lightly wipe off the excess on the edge of the dish.
- Place a bit of the butternut squash cubes and kale in each shell and roll up. Place in a baking dish, lined up tightly until you have all 16 enchiladas. I usually roll up the enchiladas right in the baking dish so that it’s less messy.
- Pour another 2 cups of salsa rojas on top of the enchiladas. Sprinkle with Daiya, if using.
- Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes to allow cheese to melt. Serve hot.
You can roast the squash and sauté the kale ahead of time and assemble the enchiladas later.
The enchiladas are delicate and may fall apart when dishing them up. If you’re short on time and don’t care about having little rolled up enchiladas I highly recommend doing these lazy lasagna style and layer the tortillas with the fillings rather than roll them up.