Zucchini Chicken Enchiladas (“Zuccinchiladas”)

Not every cool food idea I see on Pinterest actually works, but when they do, I feel like all of the time I waste on that app hasn’t gone to waste! The Zucchini Enchilada is a testament to productive procrastination (I’ve also seen this idea on Delish, Flipboard, Facebook, etc). This recipe can be easily customized to suit your tastes, and I honestly would only suggest a couple tweaks to the bare bones of it.

First, don’t use store-bought enchilada sauce. Trust me, it’s terrible. Make your own!

It takes a bunch of spices…

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And those spices get simmered down with tomato paste and vegetable broth…

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Once you have that going, you’ll basically just make your enchilada filling. I used shredded chicken, onions, and green chilies as my base.

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When you’re adding your shredded chicken, you’ll also be adding some of that luscious enchilada sauce into the mix:

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Then comes the fun (or laborious part… I don’t know how you feel about vegetable artistry). You need to use a wide peeler to cut your zucchini into super thin ribbons.

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Then you will line three ribbons up overlapping to create a sheet of zucchini ribbon, add some filling, roll it up, rinse and repeat!

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Top with sauce and cheese, and bake it off!

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Here’s the problem with baking this dish at 350 degrees for 20 minutes per most instructions on the internet… zucchinis produce a LOT of water when they are cooked. My advice (per J’s suggestion as well) is do not bake them. Broil them until the cheese melts and browns a bit. Why? Because J thought this tasted best before being baked while the zucchini was raw and the filling was hot (he sampled quite a bit before I could get it in the oven). I like it baked, but I don’t want the enchilada sauce being thinned out by the cooked zucchini, which is what happens.

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Don’t get me wrong, this was absolutely DELICIOUS, but I loved the thick texture of my sauce and I wanted to keep it that way! So broil, don’t bake. You’ll end up heating the zucchini but retaining a bit of crunch and the velvetty goodness of your homeade sauce.

If you are trying to go low-carb, this is the dish for you! I didn’t miss having tortillas at all, and this reheats really well for lunch too! Go forth, make it!!!

Zucchini Chicken Enchiladas

Ingredients:

4 zucchini, peeled into wide, 1/2 inch thick ribbons

1 large onion

1 4 oz can green chiles

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp chili powder

2 tsp ground cumin

3 cups shredded chicken (I broiled 2 large chicken breasts, and shredded with two forks once slightly cooled)

1 cup Monterrey Jack shredded cheese

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 1/2 cups red enchilada sauce***

1 tbs olive oil

Kosher salt

Fresh cracked black pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium pan over medium high heat. Saute the minced garlic until fragrant, about one minute. Add the onions and the green chiles, and saute until tender, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the cumin and chili powder, cook for about 1 more minute.
  3. Add the shredded chicken and half the enchilada sauce. Cook until heated through.
  4. Spray 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray, and turn on the oven broiler.
  5. To construct each “zucchinchilada,” take three zucchini ribbons and line them up next to each other, with each slightly overlapping. Place about 2 tbs of filling on top, then roll the ribbons up tightly all together, and place in the pan. Repeat with the rest of the zucchini and filling until the pan is full.
  6. Top the zucchini rolls with the remainder of the enchilada sauce, then top with a mixture of both shredded cheeses. Broil in the oven until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown, watching carefully to prevent burning.

*** Red Enchilada Sauce

This recipe is inspired by Cookie + Kate’s Enchilada Sauce, which can be found here: http://cookieandkate.com/2016/enchilada-sauce-recipe/

Ingredients:

3 tbs olive oil

3 tbs all-purpose flour

1 tbs ground chili powder

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon

2 tbs tomato paste

2 cups vegetable broth

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Fresh cracked black pepper

Directions:

  1. Combine the flour, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, salt, and cinnamon into a small bowl.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat until hot. Add the spice/flour mixture, whisking constantly for about one minute.
  3. Whisk in the tomato paste, then whisk in the vegetable broth.
  4. Increase the heat to medium-high until the mixture reaches a simmer, then reduce the heat and let the mixture slightly simmer until thickened, whisking regularly, for about 7 minutes.
  5. Remove the sauce pan from the heat, and add the vinegar. Add fresh cracked black pepper to taste.

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