Everyday Gourmet (5/21/09)

A crowd pleaser

May 21, 2009

By Kim Dannies

With potlucks, bridal showers and graduation parties upon us, why not choose a festive Mexican theme that’s easy on the clock and the pocketbook? I’ve made these super-delish, healthy enchiladas a few times for gatherings, and now it’s the only dish my girlfriends will let me bring. It is so fast, I don’t even season the sauce, and one 8-by-12-inch pan feeds 10 people. The rice and chicken can be prepped a few days ahead; make the casserole 2 hours ahead, it only takes about 10 minutes.

Encore Enchiladas

30 ounces medium-hot salsa

1 16-ounce package of fresh spinach

4 10-inch flour tortillas (not whole wheat)

1 16-ounce can spicy, fat-free refried beans

2 cups cooked brown rice

12 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

12 ounces grilled boneless chicken breast, cut into dice-sized cubes

Cover the bottom of an 8-by-10-inch (approximate size) baking dish with 6 ounces of salsa. Poke a few holes into the plastic package of spinach and zap for 2 minutes, until slightly wilted. Lay 4 10-inch flour tortillas on a work surface. Divide the can of refried beans among the tortillas, spreading 4 ounces of the bean paste evenly. On one half of each tortilla, layer 1 ounce of cheese, 3 ounces of diced chicken, 1/4 portion of spinach and a handful of brown rice. Carefully roll the tortillas and place seam side down into baking dish. (Stuff any food drops into the rolled tortillas.) Cover with remaining sauce and top with cheese. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. The tortillas will soften and form a lasagna-like casserole. Cut into squares and serve with green salad.

Avocado Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

In a small processor combine 1 bunch rinsed and de-stemmed fresh cilantro and a large garlic clove. Pulse until minced. Add 1/2 cup fresh lime juice, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons of fish sauce, a pinch of kosher salt and 2 teaspoons of brown sugar; blend until smooth. Makes 6 ounces of dressing.

Combine a variety of fresh mixed greens (figure a handful of greens per person) and 1/2 of a red onion, thinly sliced. With clean hands, toss the salad, adding half the dressing and then adjusting for quantity. Gently fold in as many avocado slices as desired. Top with a grind of black pepper.

Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three college-aged daughters who come and go. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to kimdannies.com.