Enmoladas de Calabaza

To make these Enmoladas de Calabaza, lightly fried tortillas are generously stuffed with tender strands of spaghetti squash and then covered in a concentrated kabocha squash mole. The kabocha mole is seasoned with dried chiles and five-spice powder, which lend a delicate smokiness to the savory sauce. "The inspiration for these enmoladas was spaghetti squash, which I love using in the fall," says chef T.J. Steele of Claro in Brooklyn, who shared his recipe with Food & Wine. "I don't find that a lot of dishes highlight it, especially as an entrée. It felt like the perfect ingredient to use for a filling for enmoladas, since the individual strands offer a lot of texture. Kabocha squash also comes into play in the mole, which has spices that are a great complement and also remind me of fall — they give the dish a warming quality. There are also unusual flavors and textures in the garnishes to keep every bite exciting. This recipe is also completely vegetarian, and if you want to make it vegan, you can swap out the crema for coconut yogurt."

Enmoladas de Calabaza
Photo: Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Margaret Dickey / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell
Active Time:
1 hrs 25 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 30 mins
Servings:
6

Ingredients

  • 3 medium-size fresh tomatillos (about 8 ounces), husks removed

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash (about 3 1/2 pounds)

  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste

  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons refined coconut oil, divided

  • 1 medium-size dried guajillo chile (about 1/8 ounce), stemmed and seeded

  • 1 small dried ancho chile (about 1/4 ounce), stemmed and seeded

  • 3 cups plus 2 teaspoons warm water, divided

  • ½ cup thinly sliced yellow onion (from 1 [6-ounce] onion)

  • 2 medium garlic cloves

  • 1 tablespoon golden raisins

  • 1 fresh bay leaf

  • 1 teaspoon  five-spice powder

  • ½ teaspoon dried Mexican oregano

  • 2 ½ cups cubed (about 1-inch pieces) peeled kabocha squash (about 12 ounces) (from 1 small [2-pound] squash)

  • 1 tablespoon masa harina (such as Masienda)

  • ¾ teaspoon demerara sugar

  • ¾ teaspoon white vinegar

  • 12 (5 1/2-inch) yellow corn tortillas

  • Mexican crema or sour cream

  • Fresh cilantro leaves

  • Salted roasted pepitas

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to broil with 1 rack in middle position and 1 rack 6 inches from heat. Place tomatillos on a rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Broil in preheated oven 6 inches from heat, turning occasionally, until blackened in spots, 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside.

  2. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Prick spaghetti squash all over with a fork. Spread 1/4 cup salt in a small mound on a rimmed baking sheet. Place spaghetti squash on salt mound to prevent it from rolling. Roast on center rack at 350°F until squash is softened and a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of squash flesh registers 160°F, 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Set aside; let cool 30 minutes. Do not turn oven off.

  3. While squash roasts, heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium. Add guajillo and ancho chiles; cook, turning often, until fragrant and puffed, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Transfer chiles to a small bowl; add 1 cup warm water, and set aside. Reserve oil in pan.

  4. Heat reserved oil in saucepan over medium-high. Add onion; cook, stirring often, until softened and just beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic, raisins, bay leaf, five-spice powder, and oregano; cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is fragrant and raisins are puffed, about 30 seconds. Stir in kabocha squash, broiled tomatillos, 2 teaspoons salt, and 2 cups warm water. Drain soaked chiles, and add to squash mixture in pan; discard chile soaking liquid. Bring mixture in pan to a boil over medium-high. Reduce heat to low; simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until squash is very tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

  5. Using your fingers, knead together masa harina and remaining 2 teaspoons warm water in a small bowl until smooth and well combined, about 1 minute. Crumble mixture into kabocha squash mixture in saucepan. Stir in sugar. Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender, process mixture in pan until smooth, about 2 minutes. Stir in vinegar, and season with salt to taste. Set kabocha mole aside.

  6. Cut cooled spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Remove and discard seeds. Using a fork, scrape flesh into separate strands, and release from skin. Transfer 4 cups squash flesh to a medium bowl; add remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and toss to combine. Set aside. Discard squash skins; reserve any remaining squash flesh for another use.

  7. Heat remaining 1/2 cup coconut oil in a small skillet over medium until melted. Working with 1 tortilla at a time, fry tortillas until softened, 5 to 10 seconds per side. Drain tortillas on paper towels.

  8. Working with 1 fried tortilla at a time, top each tortilla with 1/3 cup spaghetti squash flesh; roll up tortilla, and place, seam side down, in a 9- x 13-inch baking dish. Pour 2 cups kabocha mole evenly over rolled enmoladas in baking dish; reserve remaining kabocha mole. Bake, uncovered, at 350°F until heated through, about 20 minutes.

  9. Spoon about 1/4 cup reserved kabocha mole onto each of 6 plates, and top each with 2 enmoladas. Drizzle enmoladas with crema, and garnish with cilantro and pepitas. Serve immediately.

Make Ahead

Ahead Kabocha mole can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in refrigerator. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before assembling enmoladas.

Suggested Pairing

Toasty Mexican lager: Dos Equis Ambar Especial

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