The other night I made some really good Swiss chard and white bean tacos, but then I had a bunch of corn tortillas left over. I also had some asparagus from my last farmers’ market delivery, so I decided to make asparagus enchiladas for dinner Sunday night.
I know asparagus and enchiladas don’t really sound like they go together, but trust me, they do. For these enchiladas, you cut up the asparagus into semi-small pieces and then put them directly into the filling. You don’t have to cook them beforehand. If you did, the asparagus would become too soft and mushy. No one wants mushy asparagus.
I used shredded chicken in these tacos but you could use any kind of shredded meat including one from pre-roasted chicken. The idea is to get the meat very soft and tender beforehand when you roast it, and then it gets even softer as it bakes inside the tortillas. My boyfriend and I agreed that the chicken was one of the best parts of this dish.
My other favorite part is the sauce. You can use jarred or canned green taco sauce to save time, but if you have a little extra time, I’d highly recommend making it from scratch. I used a pound of husked tomatillos, white onion, cilantro, jalapeño, lime, and garlic to make my sauce. I didn’t use any ground spices because the sauce had plenty of flavor on its own.
Make sure you save about half of the sauce to pour over the stuffed tortillas once you put them in the baking dish. Then you can cover the whole thing with a healthy portion of Monterey Jack cheese. I don’t often cook with Monterey Jack, but it’s perfect in this dish. The cheese melts down well and holds everything together. I’d recommend turning on the broiler for a minute at the end of baking the enchiladas so the cheese on top gets brown and bubbly.
Here’s a song to get you started on your asparagus enchiladas journey.
for the green salsa:
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound tomatillos, husked
1 white onion, sliced
4 garlic cloves
2 jalapeños, seeded and sliced in half
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 lime, juiced
for the chicken:
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, salted and seasoned 1-2 hours earlier and at room temp
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chicken broth or water
for the enchiladas:
small corn tortillas
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock, store-bought
chopped cilantro leaves
2 pounds shredded chicken breast
2 Tbsp sour cream
1 bunch of asparagus cut into 1-inch pieces
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
First, make the salsa. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and spread the tomatillos, sliced onion, garlic, and sliced jalapeños on a prepared baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil on top. Roast for 15 minutes. Remove the vegetables and the juices from the baking sheet and put them in a food processor. Add the chopped cilantro leaves and lime juice and pulse until the mixture is salsa-like but still chunky. Set aside. Change the oven temperature to 375 degrees F for the chicken.
To make the chicken, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place the chicken breasts in a tin foil-lined baking dish and season both sides with salt and pepper. Pour in the water or chicken broth and cover with foil or a lid. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and has an internal temp of 165 degrees F. Transfer the chicken breasts to a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium until they’re shredded. If you do not have a stand mixer, transfer the chicken to a large, shallow bowl or cutting board and shred it with two forks. Put it in a bowl for later. Reduce the oven temp to 350 degrees F.
Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the diced onion and cook for about five minutes until it’s caramelized. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Sprinkle on the flour and then pour in the chicken stock, stirring the whole time so the mixture doesn’t clump. Cook over a low simmer, stirring most of the time, until the mixture thickens. Turn off the heat and fold in the shredded chicken, sour cream, and asparagus and add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Warm the tortillas over an open flame over a gas grill or by reheating them in the microwave until they’re soft and pliable. Pour half the salsa into the bottom of a 9×13 pan and spread it out so it completely covers the bottom. Fill each tortilla with a little bit of the chicken mixture, sprinkle some cheese on top, and roll it up so it looks like a cigar. Place seam-side down in the baking dish with the salsa. Continue this process until the baking dish is full. Then pour on the other half of the salsa, making sure you cover most of the tortillas, and sprinkle on the rest of the Monterey Jack cheese. Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly. If you want, you can broil it on high for a minute or two at the end to make the top brown and more bubbly, but make sure you keep an eye on it if you do. Enjoy!