You didn’t think I’d come back from Mexico without a fabulous, vacation-inspired recipe, did you?
Roasted Poblano Salsa Chicken Enchiladas with Cucumber Pico de Gallo are fresh, fabulous, and such a great twist on regular chicken enchiladas with red sauce. I can’t wait for you to try them!
Walter, our chef at the villa we stayed at in Puerto Vallarta, made homemade fresh salsas for us to snack on with tortilla chips all week long – some hot, some mild, some green, some traditional – so I took a cue from him and made my own roasted poblano salsa to act as the sauce for these cheesy, totally addicting enchiladas.
You heard it here, folks – you actually don’t need enchilada sauce to make enchiladas!
Fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes, onion, poblano pepper, and garlic are quickly roasted then blended with cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper to create a simple homemade salsa that you’re going to flip for – plus it can be made ahead of time, too. The salsa smothers corn tortillas wrapped with sauteed chicken and shredded Queso Quesadilla cheese then the whole thing is baked until bubbly and topped with fresh Cucumber Pico de Gallo.
Yes, cucumber pico de gallo!
Traditional pico de gallo is an uncooked salsa made with chopped tomatoes, onions, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper, but Walter made his with fresh cucumber thrown into the mix and the cooling crunch is genius. Each creamy, cheesy bite topped with fresh and snappy pico is better than the next. Let’s do this!
Start by making the Roasted Poblano Salsa, which features a poblano pepper. I’ve been experimenting with poblano peppers a lot lately and they’re just fantastic. Very mild in flavor and spice, poblanos are typically used for Chile Rellenos and are delicious once lightly roasted and slightly charred. You can find poblano peppers by the jalapeno peppers at the grocery store and as I mentioned, they aren’t spicy – just a little warming.
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees then line a baking sheet with nonstick sprayed foil and rub 1 poblano pepper, 4 vine-ripened tomatoes and 1 small onion peeled then cut in half with just a little bit of extra virgin olive oil. Slice the top quarter off a head of garlic, place it in a piece of foil, then drizzle generously with extra virgin olive oil and close the foil up to create a little pouch.
Roast the entire pan for 20 minutes, flipping everything but the garlic over half way through, then turn the heat down to 350 degrees.
Once cool enough to handle, transfer the onion and tomatoes to a food processor or blender then squeeze the head of garlic to remove 7 cloves (they should slide right out.) Remove the stem from the poblano pepper plus any excess seeds (there shouldn’t be too many,) then add the juice of 1 lime, 1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro, 3 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Process the salsa until smooth then taste and add up to 1 additional teaspoon each salt and pepper.
Salsa = done! So easy, right? Set the salsa aside, or stash in the fridge for up to 3 days before using.
Next, saute 1lb chicken breasts that have been cut into bite-sized pieces in 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil with 1/2 small chopped onion, garlic salt, and pepper, until cooked through. Set aside to cool slightly while you shred 8oz Queso Quesadilla.
I found this cheese by the refrigerated tortillas and I’m it’s new #1 fan on account of THE MELTAGE!! Ahem. That is to say Queso Quesadilla melts like a dream and has a delectable buttery flavor. If you can’t find this particular cheese, Oaxaca or Monterey Jack cheese will work, too.
Enchilada assembly time! You’ll need 8 corn tortillas (I like Mission’s yellow corn tortillas or Trader Joe’s white corn tortillas.) Microwave half the tortillas in a damp paper towel for 30 seconds then add a scoop of chicken, a spoonful of salsa, and about a Tablespoon shredded Queso Quesadilla to the center of each tortilla. Roll then place seam side down in a nonstick sprayed baking dish.
Repeat with the remaining ingredients then spoon the salsa generously on top of the tortillas, making sure every inch is covered (FYI you’ll have extra salsa – grab some chips!) Finally, sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese on top.
Cover the pan tightly with a piece of foil that’s been generously sprayed with nonstick spray then bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil then bake for 3-5 minutes or until the cheese is totally melted.
While the enchiladas are baking, chop up the quick Cucumber Pico de Gallo. That’s just 2 chopped vine-ripened tomatoes, 1/2 chopped cucumber, 1/2 chopped small onion, 1/2 minced jalapeno, 1/4 cup cilantro, the juice of 1 lime, salt, and pepper. Scoop over the hot and cheesy enchiladas, then devour!
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Roasted Poblano Salsa Chicken Enchiladas with Cucumber Pico de Gallo
Roasted Poblano Salsa Chicken Enchiladas with Cucumber Pico de Gallo are a fresh and filling twist on regular enchiladas.
- For the Roasted Poblano Salsa:
- extra virgin olive oil
- 4 vine-ripened tomatoes
- 1 poblano pepper
- 1 small onion, peeled then halved
- 1 head garlic, top 1/4" sliced off to reveal bulbs
- 1/4 cup packed cilantro
- up to juice of 1 lime
- 3-4 teaspoons salt
- 1-2 teaspoons pepper
- For the enchiladas:
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1lb chicken breasts, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1/2 small onion, chopped
- garlic salt
- 8 corn tortillas
- 8oz freshly shredded Queso Quesadilla or Monterey Jack cheese
- For the Cucumber Pico de Gallo:
- 2 vine-ripened tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- 1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
- 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced
- 1/2 small onion, minced
- 1/4 cup packed cilantro
- juice of 1 lime
- For the Roasted Poblano Salsa: Preheat oven to 425 degrees then line a baking sheet with foil. Add tomatoes, pepper, and onion to the baking sheet then drizzle lightly with extra virgin olive oil and rub to coat. Place head of garlic onto a smaller piece of foil then drizzle the revealed cloves generously with extra virgin olive oil and close the piece of foil up and place on baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes, flipping everything but the garlic halfway through.
- Once cool enough to handle, add tomatoes and onions, 7 roasted garlic cloves (squeeze the head to remove the cloves,) cilantro, juice of 1/2 lime, 3 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper to a food processor. Remove stem from poblano pepper and any excess seeds then add to food processor. Process salsa until smooth then taste and add more lime juice, salt, and pepper if desired. Set aside then turn oven down to 350 degrees. (Salsa can be made up to 3 days ahead of time.)
- Meanwhile, heat extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat then add chicken and onions, season with garlic salt and pepper, then saute until chicken is cooked through and set aside.
- Spray a baking dish well with nonstick spray then spread a couple Tablespoons Roasted Poblano Salsa into the bottom. Wrap half the tortillas in a damp paper towel then microwave for 30 seconds. Add a scoop of cooked chicken and onions across the center of each tortilla then top with a spoonful of salsa and about 1 Tablespoon shredded cheese. Roll then place seam side down into prepared baking dish, and then repeat with remaining ingredients. Spoon enough salsa on top to generously cover the enchiladas (you will have extra,) then top with remaining cheese.
- Generously spray a large piece of foil with nonstick spray then place sprayed side down on the pan and seal. Bake for 20 minutes then remove foil and bake for 3-5 more minutes or until cheese is completely melted. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving with Cucumber Pico de Gallo.
- For the Cucumber Pico de Gallo: While the enchiladas are baking, add tomatoes, cucumber, jalapeno, onion, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl then stir to combine.
- For this entire recipe you'll need: 6 vine-ripened tomatoes, 2 small onions, 1 bunch cilantro, and 2 limes.
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://buzzpur.info.
Enchiladas were one my favorite things to order from Mexican restaurants pre-CD, but since most enchilada sauces are made with all-purpose flour as thickeners I haven’t eaten them in a grip (read: forever!) Since this version swaps regular enchilada sauce for fresh, homemade salsa, I can eat and enjoy until my gluten-free heart’s content. Hope you love them as much as we did!