Chicken, Black Bean, and Butternut Squash Enchiladas with Charred Poblano Sauce

Who’s ready for comfort food?

It’s not often that I’ll pop a casserole in a hot oven during the dog days of summer. Summer days are for spending every last minute outdoors, not slaving away in the kitchen. Plus, comfort food tends to be heavier and often isn’t great for one’s diet. But when that first chilly night comes- the kind when you pull an extra blanket from the hall closet for the bed- I’m all about switching gears to cozier meals. Guess what? ‘Tis the season!

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Mexican food is a favorite in this household. That’s what happens when an L.A. girl marries a man with a hot sauce addiction! A dish full of gooey, cheesy enchiladas is hard to beat, and there are hundreds of ways to make them interesting. Last week, I kept the basic enchilada formula simple, but instead of canned enchie sauce, I made my own with charred poblanos. I also threw in some season-appropriate butternut squash. This healthier version just might be my new favorite!

It’s the sauce that makes this meal so delicious, and it wasn’t hard at all. I started by charring three whole poblano peppers on our indoor grill. You could also just use the burner. I rubbed a little bit of olive oil on them first.

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When the peppers were nice and charred on all sides, I cut them into large chunks, removing the seeds and stems. I also cut a couple of big cloves of garlic and a jalapeño from our garden into big pieces. Everything went into my mini food processor and I gave it a few pulses to start breaking down the bigger chunks. I love that you can still see those tasty bits of char.

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Next, I spooned in some plain Greek yogurt and added a few splashes of chicken stock. I tossed in a big handful of cilantro, stems and all, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. I let it whirrrrrr away in the processor until it resembled a sauce and not a salsa, adding a bit more chicken stock to loosen it up if necessary. The result is this chunky, creamy green sauce with tons of flavor!

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The filling for the enchiladas was equally as easy, thanks to a store-bought rotisserie chicken and frozen pre-cut butternut squash. I sautéed some chopped onion and added the (mostly) thawed squash. After it had warmed a bit, I added chopped chicken and a handful of cilantro. To season it, I used my “Oomph” seasoning (you can buy it here), which is a combination of paprika, garlic salt, dried onion, chile powder, and a few other things. Taco seasoning would work just fine.

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I didn’t cook the filling for too long because the squash tends to break up a bit. When it was hot, I turned off the burner and stirred in a handful of shredded cheddar cheese (duh) and a spoonful of Greek yogurt for creaminess. That’s it!

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I transferred the poblano sauce to a small pan and warmed it on the stove. To assemble the enchiladas for baking, I spooned some of the poblano sauce into the bottom of the dish. I scooped up some of the filling into a tortilla, rolled it up, and placed it seam side down in the dish. I repeated the process until the dish was full of chubby little enchiladas. I spooned more poblano sauce over the top, leaving the edges of the enchiladas bare so the tortillas could get crispy in the oven. Last, I sprinkled cheese over everything.

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The enchiladas baked for a half an hour or so, until the sauce was bubbling and the cheese had melted and started to brown. See how the tips of the tortillas have crisped up in the oven? That’s my favorite part!

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I have yet to figure out how to make a plate of enchiladas look beautiful, but with this tasty dish, you’re diving in with your fork before you notice how the plate looks. I served fresh tomato slices on top and additional lime wedges on the side. I love when the filling starts to ooze out the side of the enchilada; you can see hints of what deliciousness lies inside.

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The butternut squash offers a hint of fall flavor, and also adds substance to the enchiladas without being unhealthy. The filling is the perfect amount of creamy with the Greek yogurt/cheese mixture. You could delete the chicken and made a vegetarian version, which would be just as tasty. But it’s the charred poblano sauce that makes these enchiladas special. The jalapeño brought the heat that we enjoy, but you could use half of a pepper or leave it out altogether. The poblanos themselves are mild but flavorful, and that bit of char flavor from the grill goes a long way. This sauce would be delicious served with quesadillas, a bowl of chips, even a plate of Huevos Rancheros!

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The best thing about these enchiladas is that, despite the homemade sauce, they’re easy enough to throw together on a busy weeknight. And they taste even better the next night. (Our leftovers were long gone the following evening!)

Cheers to the shift in seasons and deliciously healthy comfort food!

Chicken, Black Bean, and Butternut Squash Enchiladas with Charred Poblano Sauce

For the sauce, you’ll need:

  • 3 whole poblano peppers
  • Olive oil (to coat)
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1 jalapeño
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 2 heaping tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • Juice from ½ a lime
  • ½ cup cilantro
  • Big pinch of salt

For the enchiladas, you’ll need:

  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen cubed butternut squash, mostly thawed
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 ½ cup chopped chicken
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 heaping tablespoon taco seasoning (or combo of cumin, paprika, and chile powder)
  • Garlic salt to taste
  • Flour tortillas (that are about the size of your baking dish)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat an indoor grill. Rub the poblano peppers with olive oil and char on all sides. Set aside to cool. Seed, stem, and cut the peppers into big pieces.

Peel the garlic cloves and cut in half. Cu the jalapeño into large chunks (remove seeds for less heat). In a small food processor, combine poblanos, jalapeño, and garlic. Pulse a few times to break down. Add the Greek yogurt, chicken stock, lime juice, cilantro, and salt. Process until smooth like a sauce (not a chunky salsa). Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Transfer to a small saucepan and warm on the stove until ready to use.

Heat a swirl of olive oil in a sauté pan on medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until just tender. Add the butternut squash and chicken and warm through. Stir in the cilantro. When hot, stir in the seasoning and turn off the heat. Stir in the cheese and yogurt. Taste and adjust seasonings.

In a casserole baking dish, spoon enough of the poblano sauce to cover the bottom. Scoop some filling into a tortilla, roll it up, and place it seam side down in the dish. Repeat until the dish is full. Spoon more poblano sauce over the enchiladas, leaving the edges of the tortillas exposed. Add plenty of shredded cheese over the sauce. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly, the cheese is melted and browning, and the tortilla edges are starting to become crisp. Serve with fresh tomato and extra lime and cheers to comfort food that’s good for you. YUM!

Hungry for more? Check out the collection of recipes on the FOOD BLISS page

The New 52: A recipe for each week in 2015.

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