Veggie Black Bean Enchiladas


You may be wondering why we are focusing on vegetarian dishes and the answer is quite simple. Because, meat free doesn’t have to be taste free. Don’t be fooled, these Enchiladas are just as tasty as their meaty counterparts. Plus there is also a lower disease risk associated with consuming plant based meals vs meat based, its much cheaper – affordability – and the big one, sustainability.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the livestock sector is “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global”. The FAO estimates that livestock production is responsible for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, while other organisations have estimated it could be as much as 51%. World scientists on the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) agree that we need to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by 80 per cent by 2050 in order to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Now I’m not saying that we should all avoid meat or jump on the vegan train, I love meat and will never remove it from my diet. I’m just trying to encourage you to go meat free for one or more days a week. And maybe, just maybe we can contribute to helping our health, our wallets and our Earth.

What you’ll need

2 cups enchilada sauce (see below for recipe)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup chopped red onion (about 1 small red onion)

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 bunch of broccoli or 1 small head of cauliflower (about 1 pound), florets removed and sliced into small, bite-sized pieces

1 teaspoon Ground Cumin

¼ teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

5 to 6 ounces baby spinach (about 5 cups, packed)

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed, or 1 ½ cups cooked black beans

1 cup shredded cheese,

½ teaspoon salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

8 whole wheat tortillas (about 20cm in diameter)

Handful of chopped cilantro, for garnishing

Sauce for the Enchiladas

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons flour (whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour and gluten-free flour blends all work!)

1 tablespoon ground chili powder (scale back if you’re sensitive to spice or using particularly spicy chili powder)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon salt, to taste

Pinch of cinnamon (optional but recommended)

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 cups vegetable broth/stock

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (optional)

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Bringing it all together…

  1. This sauce comes together quickly once you get started, so measure the dry ingredients (the flour, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, salt and optional cinnamon) into a small bowl and place it near the stove. Place the tomato paste and broth near the stove as well.
  2. In a medium-sized pot over medium heat, warm the oil until it’s it’s hot enough that a light sprinkle of the flour/spice mixture sizzles on contact. This might take a couple of minutes, so be patient and don’t step away from the stove!
  3. Once it’s ready, pour in the flour and spice mixture. While whisking constantly, cook until fragrant and slightly deepened in color, about 1 minute. Whisk the tomato paste into the mixture, then slowly pour in the broth while whisking constantly to remove any lumps.
  4. Raise heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook, whisking often, for about 5 to 7 minutes, until the sauce has thickened a bit and a spoon encounters some resistance as you stir it. (The sauce will thicken some more as it cools.)
  5. Remove from heat, then whisk in the vinegar and season to taste with a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Add more salt, if necessary.

For the main event

  1. Preheat oven to 200 with one rack in the middle of the oven and one in the upper third. Lightly grease a large/deep roasting pan with olive oil or cooking spray.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil until simmering. Add the onions and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are tender and translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the broccoli and capsicum, stir, and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8 to 9 minutes, or until the broccoli is brighter green and just starting to turn golden on the edges.
  3. Add the cumin and cinnamon to the skillet and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the spinach, a few handfuls at a time, stirring until it has reduced in size. Repeat with remaining spinach and cook until all of the spinach has wilted.
  4. Transfer the contents of the pan to a medium mixing bowl. Add the drained beans, ¼ cup cheese and a drizzle of enchilada sauce (about 2 tablespoons). Season with ½ teaspoon salt and some freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
  5. Assemble the enchiladas: Pour ¼ cup enchilada sauce into your prepared pan and tilt it from side to side until the bottom of the pan is evenly coated. To assemble your first enchilada, spread ½ cup filling mixture down the middle of a tortilla, then snugly wrap the left side over and then the right, to make a wrap. Place it seam side down against the edge of your pan. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling.
  6. Drizzle the remaining enchilada sauce evenly over the enchiladas, leaving the tips of the enchiladas bare. Sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese evenly over the enchiladas.
  7. Bake, uncovered, on the middle rack for 20 minutes. If the cheese on top isn’t golden enough for your liking, carefully transfer the enchiladas to the upper rack of the oven and grill for an additional 3 to 6 minutes, until sufficiently golden and bubbly.

Remove from oven and let the enchiladas rest for 5 minutes (they’re super hot!). You’re tongue will thank me later.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream, mash up some avocado, whip up a quick salad OR just tuck straight into the enchiladas as they stand!

For more great meal ideas be sure to check out our other tasty recipes here.