These plantain and smoky tofu enchiladas are rolled up and baked in spicy sauce and then served with a scoop of smoky refried black beans.
When I was growing up my family had a favorite Mexican restaurant, and I always ordered enchiladas. When they showed up, they were always covered in a big scoop of sloppy refried beans. I thought that was how enchiladas were served—with refried bean sauce. Sounds reasonable, and it was always delicious. It wasn’t until I started cooking that I realized, no, refried beans are not typically used as enchilada sauce. What’s more likely is that at my old favorite restaurant the refried beans were intended as a side and the cook carelessly slung them on the plate so they ended up on my enchiladas.
So when I make enchiladas I always have the urge to smother them in beans. Finally I decided to go for it. I’m SO happy about this decision.
There’s a lot of other stuff going on in these enchiladas, so let me say this: you don’t have to do it all! If you really want an awesome vegan Mexican dinner to wow someone (or yourself!) with, go all out. But if you want to use store-bought enchilada sauce, or store-bought refried beans, or even skip the refried beans altogether, it’s all good and you won’t hurt my feelings. On the same note: if you’re not into tofu, feel free to skip it and fill these enchilada with all plantains. If you’re not feeling the plantains, all-tofu enchiladas will work too. There are a million different directions you can take this recipe (but the one printed below is my favorite!).
Make sure you get really ripe plantains. You want more black spots than yellow. This is important because (a) they’ll be nice and sweet, which goes great with the smokiness of the tofu and the spicy enchilada sauce, and (b) you’re going to need them to be nice and soft so you get some squish, which you’ll need when rolling these.
Black Bean Smothered Plantain & Tofu Enchiladas
For the Refried Black Beans
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 large onion, or 1 small
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 14 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the Enchilada Sauce
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
For the Filling:
- 3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 very ripe plantains, cut into 1/2 inch thick pieces
- 1/2 large onion, or 1 small onion chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 14 ounce package extra firm tofu, drained and patted dry
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- pinch cayenne
For the Enchiladas
- 12 small corn tortillas
- Fresh Cilantro
- Hot Sauce
Make the Refried Black Beans
- Coat the bottom of a medium pot with oil and place it over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until very fragrant, about 1 minute more.
- Add the beans and about 1 cup of water. Stir and bring the liquid to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, until the beans are very soft and falling apart, about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more water to the pot as needed, 1/2 cup at a time.
Make the Enchilada Sauce
- Coat the bottom of a small saucepan with oil and place it over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, and continue to whisk as the mixture heats up. Once it begins to bubble, whisk in the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, water, and tomato paste. Continue to whisk until smooth, then bring the mixture to a simmer. Lower heat and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes, until it thickens up a bit. Remove from heat and season with salt.
Make the Filling
- Generously coat the bottom of a large skillet with oil and set over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the plantain slices in an even layer. Cook about 4 minutes on each side, until softened and browned. Transfer the plantain slices to a paper-towel lined plate. You can cook the plantains in batches if needed, adding oil to the skillet as needed between batches.
- If the skillet seems dry at this point, add a splash of oil. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until very fragrant, about 1 minute more. Crumble the tofu into the skillet and add the soy sauce, vinegar, liquid smoke, cumin, and cayenne. Cook until most of the liquid has dried up, about 5 minutes.
Make the Enchiladas
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Ladle about half of the enchilada sauce into the bottom of a large baking dish.
- Grab a tortilla and place 2 or 3 plantain slices in a row just off center, then spoon about 2 tablespoons of the tofu in a strip over the plantain slices. Roll the tortilla up, pressing firmly to roll it tightly (and squishing the plantain slices a bit if needed), and place it seam-side down in the baking dish. Repeat until all of the tortillas and fillings are used. Spoon the remaining enchilada sauce over the enchiladas, then place the dish in the oven and bake, uncovered, until the sauce gets bubbly, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
- Divide the enchiladas onto plates and top with a scoop of beans, avocado slices, cilantro, and hot sauce. Serve.
If you find your tortillas crack when you roll them, wrap a stack in a damp paper towel and microwave for 30 seconds or so until warmed. Keep the stack under the damp paper towel and remove one at a time as you roll. The black beans should be saucey, and almost soupey. They thicken up as they sit, so if they're too thick by serving time just add a bit of water and heat them up on the stove for a minute or two. Inspired by these enchiladas.