Real-deal enchiladas from scratch are a thing of beauty, but they’re not a quick meal. Between cooking the sauce and the filling, then assembling everything and finally baking it off, it’s a dish that takes time. But, lucky for us, this green salsa chicken version takes enchiladas out of the special-occasion/weekend-only repertoire and straight into the workweek, with the help of a few pantry staples.
This recipe was inspired during a trip to Asheville with my girlfriends a couple of years ago. We wanted to make enchiladas for a crowd, and my friend Jess had the genius idea of using warm salsa and sour cream as the sauce. I’ve since made variations on that dish, and this is one of my favorites. The sauce is nothing more than jarred green salsa (one of my pantry staples, although you can by all means use homemade tomatillo salsa) mixed with sour cream. For the filling, I roast diced onions, zucchini and corn until tender, then mix in shredded leftover or rotisserie chicken. Once the tortillas are filled and rolled, a shower of cotija or feta cheese and a sprinkle of cilantro finishes things off.
Oh, and without the mounds of cheese found in most Mexican restaurant versions, these enchiladas are a much lighter take on the original.
Although this is a quickened version, the assembly does take some time. To speed things up, shred or dice the chicken beforehand (if you’re using rotisserie chicken, shred it right when you get home from the store—it’s much easier to shred a warm bird). You can even make the filling the day before, so that all you have to do is heat up the salsa and assemble everything come dinnertime (and if you prefer a vegetarian version, just omit the chicken and double the veggies). Use any good brand of green salsa, but be forewarned that some brands are quite spicy! I serve the enchiladas with black beans, either freshly made, or (more often than not), from a can—see my notes below on doctoring canned beans. It’s a festive meal that feels special, even if it came together in under an hour.
Green Salsa Chicken Enchiladas
This is an awesome use for leftover chicken or shredded rotisserie chicken. For a vegetarian version, just omit the chicken and double the amount of veggies. Use any good quality green salsa (but be forewarned, some brands are spicy!). I like to serve these with black beans. To doctor up canned beans, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil with a clove or two of minced garlic, then add the beans with their liquid. Sprinkle in a big pinch of ground cumin and dried oregano, and slide in a couple sprigs of cilantro. Simmer the beans until thickened. Season with salt (if needed, depending on the brand) and squeeze in some fresh lime juice. Nobody will know they came from a can.
- 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 medium zucchini, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- Juice from 1/2 lime
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus additional for pan
- Salt and pepper
- 2 scant cups shredded or diced chicken (about half of a rotisserie chicken)
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, plus additional for serving
- 1/2 cup green onions (about 2 onions)
- 2 16-ounce jars green salsa
- ½ cup sour cream (not lowfat)
- 10 corn tortillas
- 4-ounces cotija or feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)
- Preheat the oven to 425˚F. If you’re using frozen corn, measure it and leave it on the counter to start defrosting.
- Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Put the diced onion, zucchini and garlic on the baking sheet and sprinkle with the cumin and chili powder. Squeeze the lime juice over the vegetables and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Mix everything around to coat. Bake 12-15 minutes, stirring halfway through, or until the vegetables are just tender. Add the corn and cook 2 minutes, or until heated through. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the shredded chicken, cilantro and green onions. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Do Ahead: The enchilada filling can be made the day before and kept covered in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.
- Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, whisk together the green salsa and the sour cream. Cook over medium-low heat, just until warm (don’t boil).
- Rub a 13×9-inch baking dish lightly with olive oil. Wrap the tortillas in damp paper towels and microwave them for about 45 seconds or so, or until warm (keep them covered as you work so that they stay warm and pliable, otherwise they can crack). Spread a piece of wax or parchment paper out on the countertop (this will help to keep things clean).
- Dip a warm tortilla into the salsa and rotate it until completely coated. Lay the tortilla on the wax paper, and add about 1/3 cup of filling. Roll it up and place it in the baking dish. Repeat with the rest of the tortillas, lining them tightly down the center of the baking dish. If there’s extra filling, spread it along the sides and/or over the top. Spoon some of the salsa over the top of the enchiladas (you probably won’t need to use it all—save the rest for chips). Sprinkle the cotija or feta cheese over top. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cheese is lightly toasted and the sauce is bubbling around the edges.
- Let the enchiladas cool for 5 minutes. Garnish with chopped cilantro.