No-Bake Vegetarian Enchiladas


For his enchiladas, chef Josef Centeno makes a sofrito, cooking carrots low and slow in olive oil with garlic and tomatoes.

No-Bake Vegetarian Enchiladas
Photo: © Con Poulos
Active Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 35 mins
4 to 6 servings

The recipe here is based on a dish created by Josef Centeno's great-grandmother, who raised 12 kids. Because meat was expensive, she often made enchiladas using only vegetables, like carrots and potatoes. The salsa is spicy and complex, made with both serrano chiles and dried chipotles. It's great for everything from nachos to tacos.


Carrot Sofrito

  • 1 1/4 pounds carrots, coarsely chopped

  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped

  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled

  • 1/2 pound tomatoes, chopped

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • Kosher salt


  • 9 ounces queso fresco (about 2 cups), crumbled

  • 1 cup cilantro, finely chopped

  • 3/4 cup red onion, finely chopped

  • Canola oil, for warming

  • 12 corn tortillas

  • Mexican crema or sour cream, for drizzling

Smoky Tomatillo Salsa

  • 2 tomatillos, husked and rinsed

  • 1 medium tomato

  • 1/2 medium onion

  • 1 serrano chile, stemmed

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 large dried chipotle chiles, stemmed and seeded

  • Hot water

  • 1 cup lightly packed cilantro

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

  • Kosher salt


Make the carrot sofrito

  1. Preheat the oven to 225°F. In a food processor, pulse the carrots, onion and garlic until very finely chopped. Scrape the mixture into a medium bowl. Add the tomatoes to the food processor and pulse until nearly smooth.

  2. In a medium, deep ovenproof skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil until shimmering. Add the carrot mixture and a generous pinch of salt and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened slightly and nearly dry, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the tomato puree and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining 6 tablespoons of olive oil. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 1 1/2 hours until the carrot sofrito is very soft. Season with salt, cover, and keep warm over low heat, stirring occasionally.

Make the salsa

  1. Preheat the oven to 500°F. On a baking sheet, toss the tomatillos, tomato, onion, and serrano with the oil. Roast for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are browned in spots and softened slightly. Let cool, then chop.

  2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, cover the chipotles with hot water and let stand until softened, 15 minutes. Transfer the chiles and 1/4 cup of their liquid to a food processor and puree.

  3. Add the chopped vegetables to the processor and pulse until the salsa is nearly smooth. Add the cilantro and lime juice and pulse until the cilantro is minced. Season the salsa with salt, transfer to a bowl, and serve.

Assemble the enchiladas

  1. In a medium bowl, toss the crumbled queso fresco with the cilantro and red onion.

  2. In a small skillet, heat 1/2 inch of canola oil over moderately low heat. Add 1 tortilla to the skillet and cook until just pliable, about 20 seconds. Using tongs, transfer the tortilla to a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.

  3. Working quickly, roll a scant 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture in each tortilla and arrange them on a large platter, seam side down. Spoon the hot sofrito over the enchiladas and scatter the remaining cheese mixture on top; drizzle some of the smoky tomatillo salsa and crema over them and serve, passing additional salsa and crema at the table.

Suggested pairing

Sweet carrots pair wonderfully with minerally German Riesling.

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