An Enchilada for Popeye

Enchiladas Are Traditionally Served Alongside Rice and Refried Beans

We love, love, love our TexMex! One of our favorite TexMex dishes is enchiladas.

In a good TexMex restaurant, you’ll typically see a choice of cheese, beef, and chicken enchiladas on the menu. My favorite local TexMex restaurant also offers a deliciously decadent spinach enchilada.

I myself have several variations on enchiladas that I choose from, depending upon the flavors I’m craving and how much time I want to spend puttering with them. But until a few weeks ago, I haven’t attempted making those deliciously decadent Spinach Enchiladas.

Whenever I’ve Googled recipes for Spinach Enchiladas to use as a basis or inspiration, I’ve disparaged of finding a way to make it be healthier and lighter.

Until, that is, I came across this recipe for the Spinach Enchiladas made at the restaurant Jalapeño’s:

Using this recipe as a basis, I was fairly confident that I could make delicious, decadent-tasting, but lighter Spinach Enchiladas at home.

To increase the nutrition of this dish while keeping the flavors we love, I:

  • Used leaner, healthier ingredients — reduced-fat cheeses and skim evaporated milk in place of the half and half called for in the recipe;
  • Employed lean cooking methods — used a non-stick skillet to saute the veg;
  • Used a slice of whole wheat bread — including crust! — for the bread crumbs; and
  • Made my own tortillas. Making your own flour tortillas really isn’t all that difficult! I’ll cover that in another post, but your favorite soft-taco-sized flour tortilla will work for this recipe.

Spinach is that leafy green rich in all sorts of good-for you vitamins and minerals. As Wikipedia tells us

Spinach has a high nutritional value and is extremely rich in antioxidants, especially when fresh, steamed, or quickly boiled. It is a rich source of vitamin A (and especially high in lutein), vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, magnesium, manganese, folate, betaine, iron, vitamin B2, calcium, potassium, vitamin B6, folic acid, copper, protein, phosphorus, zinc, niacin, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids. Recently, opioid 3peptides called rubiscolins have also been found in spinach.

Polyglutamyl folate (Vitamin B9 or folic acid) is a vital constituent of cells and spinach is a good source of folic acid. Boiling spinach can more than halve the level of folate left in the spinach, but microwaving does not affect folate content. Vitamin B9 was first isolated from spinach in 1941.

With this much going for it, it’s easy to understand why Popeye is so gung-ho for his spinach! (Go on, take about 6 minutes out of your day — which is what it takes for the spinach Popeye cartoon! — to see how Popeye babies his spinach, if a gopher can outsmart Popeye, and whether or not Popeye can escape a mad bull! You know you want to!)

Spinach Enchiladas (Makes 8 enchiladas, which is 6 to 8 servings)

  • 2 (10 ounces each) frozen spinach, thawed and WELL DRAINED; OR 24 ounces of fresh spinach, wilted in a non-stick skillet and WELL DRAINED; OR a combination of wilted fresh and frozen spinach
  • Minced garlic to taste
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 4 ounces or so fresh mushrooms, halved
  • 1 slice wheat bread, whizzed up into crumbs in a food processor or blender
  • 1 egg or 1/4 cup egg substitute
  • Black pepper, nutmeg, chili powder, and salt (if desired), to taste
  • Grated cheese to taste (about 1 to 1/2 cups, or 4 to 6 ounces) (I like to do a combo of reduced-fat sharp cheddar, Monterrey jalapeño Jack, habañero cheddar, etc.) (You can also used sliced cheese, tearing it into small strips)
  • 8 flour tortillas (fajita or soft-taco size)

For the Cilantro Cream Sauce:

  • 1 (12 ounce) (1 1/2 cups) can evaporated skim milk or evaporated 2% milk
  • 1 or so tablespoons of cornstarch dissolved in a small amount of water (add more cornstarch as needed)
  • Cayenne pepper and salt (if desired) to taste
  • Chopped fresh cilantro to taste
  1. Thaw and drain/dry frozen spinach and/or wilt and drain/dry fresh spinach.
  2. Place bread slice in food processor or blender and whiz until it’s fine crumbs. Pour into a medium-sized bowl. Beat in egg or egg substitute and season to taste (gently!) with pepper, nutmeg, chili powder, and salt (if desired). Stir in spinach.
  3. Mince mushrooms and onion in food processor or blender, or chop finely.
  4. In a non-stick skillet, saute onion/mushroom (add a bit of butter, if you like), until it just begins to soften. Add in minced garlic.
  5. Stir onion/mushroom/garlic mixture into spinach/bread crumb/egg/spice mixture. Stir in about 6 or so tablespoons of grated cheese.
  6. Lightly spray/oil a 13″X9″ pan.
  7. Divide filling among 8 gently heated/steamed flour (fajita or soft taco size) tortillas. Roll tightly and place, seam-side down, in pan.
  8. In a medium sized pan, mix together evaporated skim milk, cornstarch mixed with water, and cayenne (and salt, if desired). Stirring constantly, bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and, stirring constantly, cook until thickened. Sauce should thicken; if not, dissolve a bit more cornstarch in water, stir in, and cook until thickened.
  9. Remove the sauce from heat and stir in cilantro. Pour evenly over enchiladas. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  10. Bake at 350F until bubbly and heated through, about 20 to 30 minutes.
  11. Let rest about 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Refrigerate leftovers.

About MissieLee

I love tasty food prepared in a healthy way with a budget in mind.
This entry was posted in Main Dish, TexMex, Vegetarian/Meatless and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to An Enchilada for Popeye

  1. Pingback: It’s Mexico’s Independence Eve | That Smells Yummy!

  2. LinnieGayl says:

    I really like spinach enchiladas but never thought of making them. Like you, I didn’t think they were healthy. This is a great variation. I love the sauce idea with evaporated skim milk. I am definitely going to give this a try.

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