When it comes to authentic Mexican food, few do it better than Marcela Valladolid. After first bursting onto the culinary radar with a self-run catering company in Tijuana, the San Diego-born chef and host of Food Network's The Kitchen has mastered the art of simple and traditional cooking—a skill she regularly employs as an entrepreneur and busy mother of three.
In Casa Marcela: Recipes and Stories from My Life in the Californias ($18; amazon.com), Valladolid shares some of her go-tos in the kitchen, including these sweet potato enchiladas, a vegetarian take on the classic meat dish that's popular around Mexico, not to mention surprisingly filling and nutrient-packed.
"Enchiladas take me right back to my Tijuana upbringing," Valladolid recently said. "This version goes vegetarian with the untraditional, but absolutely delicious, sweet potato filling. The potato mash makes for a hardy, flavorful, and yummy dish that's fast become a family favorite." Read on for the recipe, just in time for Cinco de Mayo.
1 tablespoon salt, plus more to taste
2 pounds sweet potato (about 3 large potatoes), peeled and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
12 corn tortillas
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 dried guajillo chles, stemmed, seeded
2 dried pasilla chiles, stemmed and seeded
2 dried morita chiles, stemmed and seeded
3 garlic cloves
1 tomato, cored and quartered
1 tomatillo, husked, rinsed, and halved
2 cups water
1/2 cup questo fresco, for serving
1/4 cup Mexican crema, for serving
Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
How to Make It
For the Sweet Potato Enchiladas
1. Combine 8 cups of water and the salt in a large, heavy pot and bring to a boil. Add the sweet potatoes and cook until tender, about 20 minutes.
2. Drain the sweet potatoes and put them in a medium bowl. Add the thyme and butter and mash until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Fry the tortillas lightly, one at a time, until slightly tougher, about 20 seconds per side until golden but still pliable. (They shouldn’t be crisp.) As you work, remove the fried tortillas to a work surface. Fill each tortilla with 2 table- spoons of the sweet potato filling and roll them tightly. Transfer the filled tortillas to a platter. Pour the warm salsa over the enchiladas and top with the crumbled queso fresco, crema, and fresh cilantro leaves. Serve immediately.
For the Morita, Guajillo, and Pasilla Chile Salsa
1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the chiles, garlic, tomato, and tomatillo and cook, stirring, until the chiles are soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the water and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn off the heat. Let cool slightly. Transfer the mixture to a blender and process until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Casa Marcela: Recipes and Stories from My Life in the Californias by Marcela Valladolid
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