Friday, May 10, 2013

Entomadas (Enchiladas with fresh tomato sauce)

About 20 years ago, there was a Hole-in-the-wall Mom & Pop Mexican restaurant that had the best Mexican food, on the Monterey Peninsula. I'm not kidding. Locals would patiently wait for one of the few booths, or to sit at the counter to order really authentic Mexican food. This is the restaurant where I discovered Entomatadas

I'm surprised at how many people I know, who are Mexican, who say they've never heard of these! I'm so glad that I discovered this dish, because I love cheese enchiladas.  I loved these so much, that I craved them on a regular basis.  It got to the point where I'd walk into this little restaurant, and the mother or daughter would look at me and say "Entomatadas, rice and beans, right?"

Right! Please and thank you.  Then, a sad thing happened.  The restaurant closed. Empty. Shuttered and gone. I was heartbroken, and lamented that I'd never have these again. I'd think of those entomatadas,  whenever I had a craving for Mexican food, and I'd miss my beloved Mexican restaurant all over again.

It was time for me to see if I could clone that recipe.  First, let me introduce you to what an Entomatada is. It means "covered it tomato".  In a way, this is an enchilada. The difference is that the sauce isn't loaded with a lot of chili powder or chili peppers.  The sauce should have the brightness and taste of fresh tomato, with a mild amount of seasoning.  Traditionally, Entomatadas are stuffed with cheese (and sometimes onion).  Can you add chicken or beef? Of course you can.  But I wanted to make my version of Entomatadas as close as the one's from my beloved restaurant.

For Cinco de Mayo, I found that Roma tomatoes and Jalapenos were plentiful and on sale. I bought Medium Cheddar Cheese and Monterey Jack.  I did a little internet surfing and found a sparse selection of Entomatada recipes. I didn't like many of them, because I didn't want to add Chicken Bouillon or chicken stock.  I didn't want to add all kinds of chili, or I'd be right back to a more traditional enchilada sauce.  I wanted to be a tomato purist, and I didn't want too many spices to mute the star of the show.  

I decided to broil four Roma tomatoes, garlic, onion and one-half a de-seeded jalapeno for five minutes.

I debated whether or not to leave the tomato skin on, since I'm going to be buzzing this in my blender.

Why not? The skin slipped right off!

For seasoning, I added one teaspoon of coarse salt and 1/2 teaspoon of cumin.

I cut some fresh cilantro (3 or 4 sprigs) from our herb garden, added bit of black pepper and got ready for some pureeing action.

 I tasted the tomato sauce, and got a punch of heat! Whoa!  That was a little too hot for me, and I had to tone down the jalapeno. So, I added  four more broiled Roma tomatoes and pureed those-- that would be a total of 8 Roma Tomatoes. Perfect!

To make the enchiladas sauce takes about 10 minutes. Don't you love it? ! The entomatadas are just as quick to make: using a non-stick skillet, I added a small amount of vegetable oil (like a teaspoon...maybe two).  Corn tortillas (not flour) were cooked for about 30 seconds-- just enough to soften them, but not make them crispy.

A little of the tomato sauce is poured on the bottom of an oven-proof dish.  Fill a corn tortilla with a little cheese, and add a little freshly onion-- or leave out the onion, if you prefer.

Pour a little sauce on top...

Queso Fresco would be a perfect cheese to garnish on top, but I didn't have any. No biggie. I used the same cheese on top as I had stuffed on this inside.  These are baked at 350F for 20-30 minutes, until bubbly and hot.
The sour cream garnish is truly a must. If I had fresh avocado, that would have been a nice touch.

I didn't make homemade refried beans (and I won't eat canned refried beans... yuck!) Instead, I made a healthy green salad which was delicious-- but next time, I'm definitely make rice and beans to go with this. Oh, and a margarita, too.

TASTING NOTES:  Sha-Zam!  Seriously, I nailed it and I am thrilled.  I loved the tomato sauce, which was bright and fresh tasting. The sauce was flavorful and mild, with a gentle heat of the jalapeno. I had to add just a bit more salt, but the cumin was subtle and just right.   I am not a fan of any canned enchilada sauce that I've ever tried.  I find that it's got an overwhelming flavor of chili powder that I just don't care for. I'm working on perfecting my own homemade enchilada sauce. However, I still prefer Entomatadas, any day, because I love the flavor of tomato.  The gooey cheese, and onions are very much like my Tex Mex Chili Gravy enchiladas-- except a much more pronounced tomato.  I guess the theme here is TOMATO!

I had plenty of leftover sauce, since I only made two casserole servings.  The very next day, I made the rest of the Entomadas and polished off the sauce.  I loved it just as much.  My husband loved them, too. This is a great vegetarian meal, to boot.

If you love Mexican food, I hope you try this authentic Mexican dish. It might be a bit obscure, but it's a gem of a dish.  Trust me!

So, the winner of the Tate's Bake Shop Giveaway is... picked the number "1" (what are those odds?) and congratulations to  Carole!  Carole, you have an email on your profile, so I'll send you a message. Whoo-hoo! Email me at with you shipping address!

Here's the recipe:

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Becki's Whole Life said...

Love the idea of a fresh sauce with these enchiladas. They look wonderful!

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

I love hole-in-the-wall kind of places too. What a shame that one closed, but congratulations on nailing the recipe. Was it Jim Nabers that said Sha-Jam?

Have a lovely weekend Debby.

Carole said...

Debbie! I came for the recipe, which I plan to make as soon as I shope for everything.

Thank you SO much!! I was in the dumps missing my Mother this weekend w/ all of the Mother's Day celebragalia, and this has cheered me immenseley. Thank you! xoxo

Carole said...

oops, "shop"

Karen said...

Count me in as one who's never heard of these. Sounds so good with the fresh tomato sauce.

Joanne said...

How have i never heard of these!? I am definitely going to save this recipe to make for The.Boy and I. He's not big on spice but we're both big on mexican food...the perfect meal!

Roz Corieri Paige said...

I'd have to fall in that category of not knowing what these are . . . but I am so glad that you've been able to recreate the recipe and share it here with us! I love those little hole in the wall places and just hate it when they disappear! Happy Mother's Day Debby! google+ 'ing this for you!


The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

That sauce looks wonderful. It would be good on so many other things too like a nice chicken breast.

I hate it when a favorite restaurant closes. :-( Sometimes those holes in the wall serve the best food.

Hope you had a great Mother's Day.

Mr. & Mrs. P said...

What lovely enchiladas... Glad we found your blog... Looking forward to your posts.

Velva said...

I never thought about it until I read your that a typical enchilada sauce is smoky with chili powder etc. I am liking this light tomato sauce approach.

As always, the dish rocks!


Sue/the view from great island said...

I've never heard of these, and I'm so glad to have your recipe, they look wonderful!

Anonymous said...

Am I allowed to backtrack a little? Yesterday, Memorial Day, I served your recent, adapted "Oven-Finished Fried Chicken" to about 22 guests. It was great, they raved and frankly, without the oven finishing method, I could not have served even half as many hungry souls. When all was ready, we paused in silent honor of those who have fallen defending us, and offered our respect for those who serve today. If there is a finer meal with which to honor either America of those who have defended us, I do no t know what it might me. North, South, East or West, who among our broad cultural base can possibly refuse a tasty leg or breast of genuine, American Fried Chicken. Your tweaks on this combination of frying and baking are perfect for a large gathering because the chicken is thoroughly (properly) cooked, tastes wonderful - and will hold in a very gentle oven without drying or becoming mushy. You've got this nailed, perfectly and my salute, madam! You deserve a Fried Chicken Medal. -Craig (aka

Danielle Imstuffed said...

Debby!! These look so good and sound so fresh. I have to give them a try this weekend. :)