Spinach, Mushroom, and Potato Enchiladas
Four years ago, I made the move toward a plant-based diet after seeing Rip Esselstyn on CBS Sunday Morning. Here was a former professional triathlete and current ﬁreﬁghter espousing the beneﬁts of eating your vegetables. At the time, I was less interested in increasing my athletic performance (my daily activity was limited to walking the dog) and more interested in losing a few pounds before having to expose my winterized body on an early summer cruise to Bermuda.
I committed to the 28-day plan outlined in his book, The Engine 2 Diet. In 28 days, I lost about ten pounds. More importantly, my body learned–maybe for the ﬁrst time in my life–what it felt like to be nourished. When I re-introduced animal foods to my diet (I mean, what sane person gives up cheese? Iʼm a midwesterner! Cheese is part of our genetic heritage! Dairy is not only our right; it is our duty!), I didnʼt feel as well. So I committed to another month of plant-based eating. And then another. And then a season. And then the rest of the year.
Living in a Different Body
In less than ten months, I lost 80 pounds. I started running (very slowly, in 100-yard bursts). I lost another twenty pounds. I increased my mileage. I found yoga. I ran a half marathon. I got certiﬁed to teach yoga. And now I am a different woman living in a different body in a different state with a different life.
The lesson? Vegetables are powerful. So are humans. And humans powered by vegetables are maybe the most powerful of all.
The following recipe is the ﬁrst plant-based recipe I ever tried. It is still one of my favorites–everyone in my family enjoys it, it makes enough to feed all of us with leftovers, it comes together quickly on a weekday night (while it is baking, I have time to clean up the kitchen and help with homework), and it is nutrient dense. Plus, except for the chili powder, I can buy all of the ingredients at Trader Joeʼs.
Adapted from The Engine 2 Diet by Rip Esselstyn
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 2 tablespoons chili powder (Penzeys Regular Chili Powder is really divine)
- 20 oz. baby portobello mushrooms, rinsed and chopped (or pre-sliced)
- 32 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and drained (Please use organic. Green leaﬁes soak up pesticides)
- 30 oz. frozen hash brown patties (I use Trader Joeʼs hash brown patties–1 1/2 packages, or 15 patties)
- 8 oz. canned diced green chilies (2 small cans)
- 18 corn tortillas
- 4 12-oz. jars enchilada sauce (Trader Joeʼs version is vegan, but not gluten free)
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional)
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Grease a 13 x 9 inch pan (I prefer glass or ceramic because it is a better conductor of heat) with coconut oil. You could also spray it with canola oil spray.
- Cook hash brown patties according to package directions. (I bake them on a large cookie sheet at 400 degrees for nearly 30 minutes, ﬂipping once after 15 minutes. I prefer them to be browned and crispy). Let cool enough to handle.
- When hash browns are done, reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
- In a large, ﬂat-bottomed skillet over medium heat, warm olive oil. Add onions and saute until translucent, 8-10 minutes. Add minced garlic and spices, stirring until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Add mushrooms, and cook, disturbing infrequently, until mushrooms are browned and begin to give off their liquid.
- Add minced garlic and spices, stirring until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Add thawed and drained spinach and cook until liquid has evaporated and spinach is heated through.
- Season vegetables with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.
- Roughly chop cooked hash brown patties. (You want pieces that are no bigger than bite-sized).
- In a large bowl, combine hash browns, sauteed vegetables and spices, and diced green chilies. Stir gently to combine.
- Pour a little enchilada sauce in the bottom of the baking pan–just enough to cover the pan.
- Line the bottom of the sauced baking pan with 6 tortillas (they will overlap some).
- Layer half of the vegetable/potato mixture over the tortillas. Cover with a jar and a third (about 2 cups) of sauce. Sprinkle with optional nutritional yeast.
- Add another layer of six tortillas. Repeat step 13.
- Top with six more tortillas and two more cups of sauce. Sprinkle top with optional nutritional yeast.
- Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees until warm in the center, about 30 minutes. Let rest for 15 minutes.
Notes and Suggestions
- Nutritional yeast adds B12 to this dish, a vitamin which is necessary for cell growth and formation. While animals do not produce this vitamin, they do consume the bacteria responsible for producing B12, which means their ﬂesh is a carrier. Vegetarians and vegans need to supplement.
- To add even more nutrition, increase the number of vegetables. A chopped red bell pepper, 2 diced carrots, 2 cups of ﬁnely chopped fresh broccolini, or two cups of ﬁnely chopped kale would all work well in this recipe. Just cook the harder vegetables (pepper, carrot) with the onions, and the more tender vegetables (broccolini, kale) between the mushrooms and spinach.
- To add creaminess, sprinkle shredded cashew cheese between the layers.
- For more protein, add a can of black beans, drained and rinsed, distributed evenly between the layers.
- Serve with chopped tomatoes, cashew cream, guacamole (or simply diced avocado), salsa, and hot sauce.