In my new base-of-operations-slash-secret-hideout (Lincoln, NE) I can choose from many farmers markets. The biggest is the Saturday market in the old haymarket district. I start by cycling along the Rock Island bike trail to market, then I stuff my knapsack full of whatever strikes my fancy. It’s post modern hunting and gathering. When I get home I can put the puzzle pieces together into dinner and few meals for the week.
Last week I trundled off to market and stopped at a little hole in the wall place right along the bike path, Marlene’s Tortilleria. You know you’re in the right place when there are sacks of corn stacked halfway to the ceiling – you wouldn’t believe the smell! In the back room Marlene was operating the Dr. Seussian machine, which magically produced endless warm thick white corn tortillas. She came out to help me and saw the bag of tortillas I’d put on the counter. “Don’t you want them fresh?” she asked. Most certainly a rhetorical question! She grabbed a handful that she could barely hold and slipped them into the bag where they instantly steamed up. I had the cornerstone of today’s culinary puzzle!
At the market I daydreamed about vegetables and cheese and tomatoes and chilis. I picked up a summer squash and a zucchini, avoiding the giant ones of late summer. At Shadowbrook Farm I found delicious heirloom tomatoes and at my favorite chili farmer’s table, a box of bright orange habaneros and juicy looking serannos. But I couldn’t locate my usual cheese maker and decided to stop off at Ideal Grocery for cheese and a can of enchilada sauce. So there was the plan for squash enchiladas. What else to buy?
I had the fortune to find a Persian woman selling rose-scented baklava made with almonds, cardamom, and rose petals. I can die now a happy man. Let’s see, bread and pizza dough from Le Quartier, some nice leeks and tiny red onions from one farmer, and an earthy head of fresh cabbage from another, melt in your mouth peaches and pears along the way. That was all for today – no more room!
All that cycling around can make a fellow mighty hungry. So here’s the answer:
Summer Squash Enchiladas!
- 1 summer squash, medium-sized, diced
- 1 zucchini, medium-sized, diced
- 1 leek, cleaned, green top removed, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1-6 hot chilis, minced
- 4 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 12 ounces cheese, shredded
- 1/4 cup half-and-half
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano, substitute Greek oregano or epazoté
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
- salt & pepper, to suit taste
- 8-12 corn tortillas
- 1 can red enchilada sauce
- black olives, sliced
- green onions, sliced
- tomato, chopped
In a large sauté pan, heat two tablespoons of the oil over medium heat, then add diced squash, leeks, garlic, and chilis. Reserve a couple spoonfuls of chopped chilis for later. Lightly brown the squash mixture, then remove from the stove and allow to cool.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine 2/3 of the cheese, the egg, and the half-and-half. Mix in the dried oregano, cumin, cilantro, salt and pepper. When the squash mixture is cool, combine it with the cheese mixture.
Heat the enchilada sauce in a small saucepan until warmed through. Heat the remaining oil in the sauté pan. When the oil is hot, fry a tortilla lightly on both sides, then, using a spatula, place it into the warm enchilada sauce only to coat it. Place the tortilla on a plate, arrange a portion of squash filling, 2-3 tablespoonfuls, onto it and roll it up. Place it into a flat, non-reactive baking dish. Repeat until the tortillas and filling are used up. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Decorate with your choice of toppings, perhaps sliced black olives, chopped green onion, chopped tomatoes, cilantro, chilis, etc.
Bake in a 325º oven until heated through and bubbling around the edges, 30-40 minutes. Serve with rice, a fresh cabbage salad, and a cold Pilsner. Enjoy! TPJ