Monday, March 21, 2011

black bean & corn enchiladas

The enchilada picture was ugly, so enjoy this photo of Sarah
Happy Monday!  I hope everyone had a great weekend.  Mine was filled with food, friends, and nice spring-like weather here in the District.  Friday night was the first beautiful night of the year, and I enjoyed margaritas on the rooftop of Surfside with what seemed like the rest of Glover Park.  Saturday I went to an oyster roast, where I spent the afternoon outside in the sun livin' the dream - drinking beer from a tap on the side of a van (I've always wanted to do that) and shucking and slurping delicious raw oysters.  I had to pass on the chili and instead had a little bit of Beaufort Stew (without sausage, of course).

Sunday night my cousin Sarah came over for dinner with her roommate Emily.  Sarah lives just a few blocks away and I am so lucky to have her close by!  She is always willing to play guinea pig for any crazy recipe I may want to test.  Tonight was no exception.  She's been interested in my meatless project and was excited to try out a dish.  I wanted to make a substantial, satisfying meal making use of pantry staples and things I already had in my refrigerator.  I surveyed the scene:  several cans and bags of beans and grains, a can of tomato paste, and whole wheat tortillas in my pantry, frozen corn in the freezer, and various fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator.  With only needing to pick up a few things from the store, I had a full meal - black bean and corn enchiladas with a mango spinach salad.

I was especially excited when I thought about how appropriate it was to make this meal for Sarah.  The frozen corn I had wasn't just any frozen corn - it was hand-picked last summer from our family's farm in Sussex County, Virginia.  Each year, my family picks the corn, gives some to friends, and freezes the rest, on and off the cob, for year-round use.  Whitney thinks this is the corn of the gods.  In fact, Sarah took one look at the enchiladas and said, "It's farm corn!  I can tell by the color and smell.  Delicious." 

This corn is a sweet, juicy, tender corn that tastes like the Fourth of July, even in March.  Every summer growing up, we would wait for the phone call from the farmer saying that the corn was ready to be harvested.  It would generally come in late June or early July, "Yep, I think it's gonna be ready any day.  Y'all better come get it this week."  A couple days later, my parents, Bollie, and Jamie and I would pile into my mom's station wagon and drive out to the farm.  We'd pick ear after ear until the trunk of the wagon was filled to the windows with fresh corn.  With all five of us working, it was a quick trip - we could fill the car up in less than a half hour.  When we were young, we thought it was a blast - what city kid doesn't want to pretend to be a country girl every once in a while?  However, as we grew into the tween/early teen years and became more interested in glitter lotion, platform flip flops, and Britney Spears, we became less interested in driving to the middle of nowhere on a summer evening.  But my parents, always one step ahead, found a new system of incentives.  If we went to pick corn, we could drive on the property.  (By this point the old Buick station wagon had died and my mom had gotten a studly Dodge Grand Caravan).  With an offer like that, we tagged along to help our parents.  Unsurprisingly, my parents had a hard time recruiting any of us for the trip after our sixteenth birthdays. 

So, since Sunday was the first day of Spring, I took out a couple of bags of corn that had been frozen after last year's harvest.  I've had a tough, long winter, and this meal reminded me of everything good that is in store for the spring and summer.  Before today, I'd never actually made my own enchilada sauce, but it was actually really easy!  After simmering for just 30 minutes, the sauce had already developed a deep, complex flavor.  This recipe is adapted from several on the Internet; the key is to add the spices little by little until the desired level of spiciness and flavor is achieved. 

Black Bean & Corn Enchiladas
adapted from The Vegetarian Times
Makes 8 enchiladas

For the enchiladas:
2 (15-oz.) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups frozen corn
1/3 cup sliced scallions (white and light green parts)
1 large tomato, chopped
1/3 cup plus 2 Tbs. chopped cilantro
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
Dash of paprika (optional)
10 whole wheat tortillas (soft-taco sized)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups enchilada sauce

For the sauce:
6-oz can tomato paste
1 - 1 1/2 cups water
1/4 onion
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon garlic powder (you could choose to use one or the other, but I really like garlic!)
1 teaspoon onion salt  (I like onions, too!)
2 teaspoons cumin
2 tablespoons chili powder
Salt and pepper

1.  Preheat oven to 375F. 
2.  To make the sauce, combine all ingredients in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat and allow to thicken, about 30 minutes.  Adjust seasoning and water according to taste.
3.  In large nonstick skillet, combine black beans, corn, scallions and tomato. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add 1/3 cup cilantro, oregano, cumin and paprika.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is slightly thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
3.  Coat medium baking dish with thin layer of enchilada sauce.
4.  Place tortillas in stack on microwavable plate; cover with moist paper towel. Microwave tortillas on high until soft and heated through, about 1 minute. Spread tortilla with bean mixture. Roll tortillas and place seam side down in baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese and bake, uncovered, until bubbling, 15 minutes.
5.  Sprinkle enchiladas with remaining 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro and serve.

I served this with avocado, cilantro, and more chopped green onions.  We also had a mango salad on the side, which I will probably post a recipe for sometime this week.  It's a versatile dish that goes well with several different flavors.  We all thought this meal was pretty tasty!  As seen above, Sarah swiped her membership card to the Clean Plate Club.


      1. Mmmmm. This looks delicious. Not Sarah, the recipe!

        And... I love a good reference to the CPC. Keep up the good work.

      2. what are you trying to say....I LOVE THAT I'M ON THE BLOG!!! I FEEL FAMOUS!!

      3. meredith just started a cooking blog too.. check it out. im sure you bloggers like eachother

      4. Dinner was DELICIOUS! I too will be guinea pig for any recipe you would like to try. Thanks again for having us over! (and for mentioning me in your blog!)

      5. Well done. Brought back fond memories.
        Love you.....
        Daddy o

        It's in Sussex county..... Like our street.

      6. oops! how embarrassing! i'll fix it now. thanks dad!