My Journey in the Far North

thoughts, inspiration, devotions and recipes from my journey in the far north

Black Bean and Spinach Enchiladas with a ‘Creamy’ Salsa Verde Sauce March 10, 2011

Since returning to the US, I simply can’t get enough of Mexican food…or rather Americanized Mexican food.  And for dinner on my birthday, it was on the menu. 

While everyone else ate Chicken Enchiladas with a Creamy Green Sauce found in Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food magazine (May 2008, page 115 to be exact), I adapted the recipe to fit my vegan diet.

A few days ago, I googled ‘vegan creme fraiche’ to see if a substitute was out there that I could make.  I learned that if I thinned out some tofu cream cheese with some non-dairy milk and added some lemon juice, I would have something equivalent to creme fraiche.  After learning this, I mixed up the remaining tofu cream cheese I had and served some of it with some Aloo Gobi.  But there was still some of this creme fraiche remaining and for good reason because I could use it for this recipe.

When my mom and I were contemplating the dinner for my birthday, I wanted to see if I could adapt the chicken enchiladas and make it so that I could enjoy enchiladas as well.  Once I went meat and dairy free, I practically cut out Mexican food because I couldn’t figure out how to eat it without the cheese…but I don’t have that worry anymore, in fact I do not miss the cheese.  If you aren’t meat free but struggling with dairy and don’t want to give it up yet you could consider using goat cheese with your Mexican food…check out this post where I talk about using goat cheese when I was craving some different flavors.  Sorry, went on a tangent there…ok, back to the birthday dinner recipe.

The original recipe for the sauce that was used for the chicken enchiladas called for 2 jars medium green salsa and 3/4 c. heavy cream.  For my version, I decided to use the remaining tofu ‘creme fraiche’, thin it out to resemble the heavy cream and add it to the 1 jar of salsa (I was making a half batch).

It turned out perfectly.  Here’s what I did.

Black Bean and Spinach Enchiladas with a ‘Creamy’ Salsa Verde Sauce

(makes 6 enchiladas)

1 T olive oil

2 T or more finely chopped onion

Dash or more of ground cumin

S&P to taste if necessary

3 large handfuls of roughly chopped spinach

1 can (small) equivalent to 2 cups refried black beans (or you can use the vegetarian refried beans)

6 corn tortillas

1 jar mild or medium green salsa (also known as salsa verde)

1/2 cup or more of the thinned out to the consistency of heavy cream mixture of tofu cream cheese and (unsweetened, non vanilla!) almond milk or other unsweetened, unflavored non-dairy milk… you are probably looking at 2 T or more of the cream cheese to 1/2 cup of the non-dairy milk

1/2 tsp or so of lemon juice to add to the thinned out creme fraiche mixture


1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F (180ish degrees C)

2. In a skillet over medium high heat, heat the olive oil and add the chopped onions.  Cook until softened. 

3.  Add the ground cumin. Stir and cook slightly. Add S&P to taste, as necessary.

4.  Add the chopped spinach and stir.  Allow spinach to wilt. 

5.  Add the refried beans.  Stir to combine and heat through.

6.  Create the cream mixture.  Mix up the creme fraiche (tofu cream cheese, non-dairy milk, and lemon juice) and thin it out some more with the non-diary milk until it reaches the consistency of heavy cream.

7. Add the salsa to the cream mixture and stir.

8.  Place the corn tortilla stack in between moist paper towels and heat for 1 minute in the microwave.  (This allows the tortillas to be pliable and soft.)

9.  Pour some of the cream/salsa mixture into a shallow bowl and individually dip the tortillas (on both sides) and add a small to medium spoonful of the bean/spinach mixture to the tortilla. 

10.  Roll up the tortilla and place in a small casserole dish (that has been sprayed with kitchen spray, optional). Repeat with the remaining tortillas.  You will need to work quickly so that the tortillas remain soft.

11.  Top with all remaining sauce.  Bake for approximately 30 minutes.

Serve with a nice chopped salad and/or other fixings like ‘spanish rice’.

I think it turned out really well.  The sauce held up extremely well and the entire dish was so tasty.  Oh, by the way, I added a small amount of the salsa (before adding it to the cream mixture) into the bean mixture and it gave the bean/spinach mixture a little more flavor.

I apologize that there isn’t a picture to accompany the recipe, but don’t let that stop you from trying this.

Just a thought…you could use whole black beans and mash them if you aren’t able to find refried black beans.


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