Monday, October 13, 2014

Pumpkin Enchilada Casserole with Poblano-Pepita Salsa

Pumpkin Enchilada Casserole with Poblano-Pepita Salsa

Something about the transition from summer to fall causes me to feel pulled to the kitchen.  As we say goodbye to playing outside until dusk, catching lightning bugs, and evenings at the pool, we welcome cozy evenings in front of the fireplace, sipping hot cocoa, comfort food, and trips to the pumpkin patch.   I love spending a lazy afternoon cooking and baking while the boys nap.  I gravitate towards simple and quick recipes in the summer, but the fall has me slowing down, taking my time, and enjoying the process as much as the final result.  

And this dinner is indeed a process.  There's homemade enchilada sauce, a fresh pumpkin filling, and a roasted tomatillo-poblano-pepita salsa.  And yes, it is pretty much perfection.  While it is a bit time-consuming, nothing is difficult, and should you be pressed for time, any of the components can be made ahead.  And heck, you could assemble the whole thing ahead and then just cook it when you're ready!

Pumpkin Enchilada Casserole with Poblano-Pepita Salsa 

This is an impressive main dish for a fall dinner party, and since I love putting together menus, here's what else I'd serve with it (and actually, most of this is what I did serve with it).

Apple Habanero Margaritas
Chips and Guacamole
Orange-Avocado Salad
Baked Cinnamon-Sugar Donuts with Vanilla Ice Cream (this is my take on churros).

After all my whining about the end of summer, with dinners like this, I guess I can now say that I'm ready to embrace fall.  Let's do this.

Pumpkin Enchilada Casserole with Poblano-Pepita Salsa

Pumpkin Enchilada Casserole with Poblano-Pepita Salsa
adapted from Fine Cooking
enchilada sauce adapted from America's Test Kitchen

Enchilada Sauce
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped fine
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 3 medim cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2  teaspoons sugar
  • 1 15-oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tbs canola oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped fine
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs ground cumin
  • pinch of sugar
  • 3 cups of 1/2-inch diced pumpkin or other winter squash (peel, seed, then chop the pumpkin)
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 3 Tbs fresh minced cilantro
  • kosher salt
For Assembly
  • vegetable oil
  • 10 6-inch corn tortillas
  • 2 cups Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
  • Poblano Pepita Salsa (recipe follows)
  • Mexican crema or sour cream, for serving

Combine the onion, jalapeno, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and oil in a large saucepan. cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the onions and peppers have softened, 8-10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and sugar, and cook until fragrant, less than 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato sauce, water, and chopped tomato. Bring to a simmer, and cook until slightly thickened, 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, make the filling.  Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch skillet set over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and jalapeño, and cook until lightly browned and softened, 10 minutes.  Add the garlic, cumin, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, and sugar and cook one minute, or until it's fragrant.  Stir in the pumpkin.  Lower the heat to medium, add the broth, cover, and simmer until the pumpkin is just tender, about 10 minutes.  Taste and season with additional salt if needed.  Stir in the cilantro.

To assemble the casserole, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and brush a 9x13 inch baking dish with oil.  

Heat a small nonstick or cast-iron skillet to medium-high.  Working one tortilla at a time, heat them in the skillet until softened and beginning to brown in spots, about 1 minute per side.   

Spread 3/4 cup of the sauce evenly over the bottom of the dish.

Arrange 5 of the tortillas over the sauce, cutting them to fit if necessary.

Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce over the tortillas.  Spoon all of the filling evenly over the sauce, then sprinkle with 1 cup of the monterey jack cheese.

Pour 1/2 cup of sauce over the cheese and arrange the remaining 5 tortillas over the sauce (again, cutting the tortillas as needed to fit).  

Spread the remaining sauce over the tortillas then top with the remaining cheese.

Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cheese is browning and bubbly.  

Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving with the salsa and crema.

Poblano-Pepita Salsa
  • 2 medium poblano chiles
  • 1 lb tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup unsalted, roasted, and hulled pepitas
  • 1/4 cup packed chopped fresh cilantro
  • kosher salt
  • juice of 1/2 lime
Halve the tomatillos and arrange in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet with the poblanos.

Char under a broiler until the tomatillos are dark and browned in spots and the chiles are blackened on all sides, flipping as needed.  Transfer the chiles to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Cool 10 minutes.  Peel, stem, and coarsely chop the chiles.

Coarsely chop the pepitas in a food processor by pulsing 5 to 6 times.  Transfer to a medium bowl.  Add the tomatillos, chiles, cilantro, and salt to the now-empty bowl, and pulse several times to get a chunky salsa.  Add to the bowl with the pepitas and stir to combine.  Stir in the lime juice.  Taste and season with salt as needed.


Josie said...

There is nothing like a batch of enchiladas made completely from scratch. I can always make time for that!

Josie said...

How pretty is this?!?! Loving the flavours in this casserole!!

Josie said...

Holy cow this looks like all kinds of deliciousness.

Josie said...

Fall definitely gets me more excited about baking and cooking. I need to get in the kitchen and make this ASAP. Sounds amazing. Totally my kind of meal!

Josie said...

I suspect this casserole would make a great freezer meal to bring to a friend who has had a baby! At what point would you freeze it? Or would you freeze it at all? (Maybe I'm wrong!) Thanks! :)

Josie said...

I promise I'm not a creeper, but I definitely thought you'd like this when I was posting it!

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