Recipe: Italian Garden Enchiladas

Before we leave on vacation we’re trying to clear out the fridge and freezer, not to mention I have all the goodies from the garden to use up. So, for dinner tonight I had the girls go with me and harvest some of the veggies from the garden. We filled up a small bowl with beans, peas and some cherry tomatoes.

Looking through the fridge, we’ve got a ton of tortillas and I had an open bag of pasta sauce. I also found a few cans of beans in the back of the closet, so I had my little one pick one out to eat – she chose garbanzo beans.

In the end, I made Italian Garden Enchiladas.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Garden veggies, such as beans, peas, carrots, onions, garlic, cherry tomatoes, etc.
  • Fresh basil
  • Pasta Sauce (16 oz or so.)
  • Tortillas
  • Chicken
  • Garbanzo Beans (1 can.)
  • Cheese (about 8-16 oz – depending on how much cheese you like!) – I used Italian Blend and Sharp Cheddar.

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cook chicken on stove until done. (I used a bit of olive oil.) Optional: Sprinkle with Italian seasoning.
  2. Chop up the garden veggies and sautee on the stove in a little bit of olive oil. Set aside.
  3. Rinse garbanzo beans and heat in same pan on stove. (I added enough water to the pan to cover the beans, then boiled the water out.)
  4. Place a layer of sauce in a baking dish.
  5. Lay out tortilla. Place a layer of sauce, then add the veggies, chicken, beans and a few slices of the tomato and basil. Add cheese and more sauce.
  6. Roll up and place, seam side down, in the baking dish. Repeat 5 times.
  7. Spoon the remaining sauce on top, add basil, sprinkle on cheese.
  8. Cover with foil and bake for about 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees.
  9. Remove foil and bake for a few additional minutes until cheese is browned to your liking.
  10. Cool and enjoy.

BONUS: You can EASILY freeze this meal! Use a disposable foil baking pan, and prep the meal as stated above. Then, thaw and continue with baking ingredients.

Garden veggies. Basil, onions, carrots, peas, beans and tomatoes.

Grilled some chicken on the stove. Sprinkled with Italian Seasoning.

In the same pan, tossed the veggies – chopped up – in some olive oil and sauteed.

A can of garbanzo beans. Threw in the same pan with enough water to cover them, then boiled until the water was gone.

Whole wheat tortilla with a layer of my pasta sauce, a couple spoonfuls of the cooked veggies, plus the garbanzo beans, sliced up chicken and sliced tomato. Before rolling up, top with cheese.

Add a layer of sauce on the bottom of the baking dish, add the rolled up tortillas and top with more sauce and basil.

Add cheese, cover with foil and bake at about 375 for about 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional few minutes until cheese is browned to your liking.

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Homemade Pasta Sauce – in BULK!

True story, I love pasta. I love pizza. I love bread dunked in sauce. I blame my Italian roots (I’m a quarter Italian, but it’s a strong quarter!)

So, when my mother in law taught me how to make her pizza sauce I was so happy. She uses it for pizza sauce, I use it for both pizza and pasta sauce. And it’s delicious.

This is the recipe that she photocopied for me, we don’t follow it to a T though.

Basically, the way I was taught was to throw can of tomato sauce, tomato paste, herbs, salt, sugar, pepper and olive oil into a pot and heat on low, stirring now and then. Taste as you go to get it just right. We also use onion powder instead of onions (sometimes I’ll do both or just chopped onions if I have them on hand.) Same goes for the garlic, we just use garlic powder and the thing about garlic powder is that a little bit goes a LONG way! So watch yourself as you add the garlic. Also, the last thing I do, is throw in some Italian Seasoning. Yum. Delish.

Oh! You can also add chopped tomatoes if you’re into that kind of thing. I am, but my family is sadly not, so I don’t usually add them.

The thing though, was that I was having to make this sauce so often. And until it was made my cupboard was filled with the canned sauce and paste, leaving room for little else. Plus I had to make a mess on the stove every time I wanted to make sauce.

The answer? Costco! Both cost effective and time saving for the future! I can’t remember the cost offhand, but I believe The Husband said that the sauce was around $2.99, the paste must have been somewhere around there as well, possibly a little more.

EDIT: I went back and calculated the amounts to make it slightly easier. I left the old amount (such as 27 tsp of Basil) and added the new amount next to it in parentheses (about 9 TBSP or 1/2 cup) 

So, if you want to make a HUGE batch you’ll need the following.

  • A huge sauce pan/stock pot for the stove (I used an 8 quart sauce pan, I had a couple of inches from the top and did this in 3 batches.)
  • Contadina Tomato Sauce – 105 oz (Costco) x 3
  • Contadina Tomato Paste – 111 oz (Costco) x 1
  • Basil – 27 tsp (about 9 TBSP or 1/2 cup)
  • Oregano – 27 tsp (about 9 TBSP or 1/2 cup)
  • Italian Seasoning (to taste)
  • Garlic Powder (to taste)
  • Onion Powder (to taste)
  • Salt – 18 tsp (about 6 tbsp)
  • Sugar – 10.5 tsp (about 3 and 1/2 TBSP)
  • Pepper – 2 – 1/4 tsp
  • Olive Oil – 36 TBSP (2 and 1/4 cups)

Now, because my pot wasn’t big enough for EVERYTHING I divided my recipe by thirds. Basically one giant can of tomato sauce to 1/3 giant can of tomato paste.

SO – here’s the ingredients per batch if you make it in three batches like I did.

  • huge sauce pan/stock pot for the stove (I used an 8 quart sauce pan, I had a couple of inches from the top and did this in 3 batches.)
  • Contadina Tomato Sauce – 105 oz (Costco) x 1
  • Contadina Tomato Paste – 4.625 cups (round it)
  • Basil – 9 tsp (about 3 TBSP)
  • Oregano – 9 tsp (about 3 TBSP)
  • Italian Seasoning (to taste)
  • Garlic Powder (to taste)
  • Onion Powder (to taste)
  • Salt – 6 tsp (about 2 TBSP)
  • Sugar – 3.5 tsp
  • Pepper – 6/8 tsp
  • Olive Oil – 12 TBSP (or 3/4 cup)

This is what the cans of Tomato Paste and Tomato Sauce from Costco look like. Remember, you’ll need THREE cans of sauce for each can of paste for this recipe.

1. To start you simply dump the can of tomato sauce in the pot and then measure out and put in the tomato paste.

I scooped the paste out with a wooden spoon into a measuring cup.

2. Next up add the olive oil and stir it in.

3. Add the Basil, Oregano, salt, sugar and pepper and stir.

Dumped in lots of good stuff to stir in! I usually stir after adding each ingredient, but this makes SUCH a better photo!

4. Add the garlic, not too much, a little bit goes a long way. Have a taste and you can always add more!

5. Add the onion powder, just a little is all you need. Now’s a good time to taste again.

6.Add the Italian seasoning. Taste again.

7. Let simmer for a little while, until all of the herbs are nice and blended.

You can always add other veggies like onion, green pepper and so on.

Also, if you need to sneak in extra nutrients because your kids (or you!) don’t enjoy eating vegetables, this is a great place to add in some puree’d veggies. I added some Butternut Squash into one of my batches. You can put in a surprising amount without affecting the taste! I have a friend who I believe uses pureed carrots. I didn’t have any carrots on hand.

The only thing left to do is to allow your sauce to cool and then get it ready for freezing! You can get freezer safe canning jars, but I didn’t have those (Whoops! Bought regular canning jars without doing my research!) so I used freezer bags.

First batch!
We had pasta that night so this isn’t 100% of the sauce.
2 bags – 3 cups each
3 bags – 2.5 cups each
1 bag – 2 cups

I’ve found that 3 cups is about the max you should put into a quart sized freezer bag and really, unless your family is huge or you’re making something in bulk, you’re not going to need that much sauce at one time anyway!

This was the second and third batch I did. This was on a another night, a few days later. I don’t recommend doing that since the big can of paste, which was covered in the fridge, ended up with a blackish build-up near the rim. I wiped it out with a paper towel so that it didn’t end up in the last two batches of sauce.
Here we have:
5 bags – 3 cups
6 bags – 2 cups
1 bag – 1 1/3 cups
1 bag – 2 2/3 cups
= a LOT of sauce!!!

If you go the freezer bag route it can get pretty messy. I finally discovered that holding the bag open as shown in the following photo and using a 1/3 cup measuring cup to scoop and pour works best. A ladle would have worked well also, but I don’t know how much my ladle holds and I wanted to measure, so measuring cup it was!

This was how I held the bag open and made the least amount of mess.
Bottom of bag rests on counter/stove/wherever and sort of “pinch” the center of the bag as shown. Once the first scoop is in it weighs down the bottom and helps to make less mess pouring into the bag.

And there you have it! Home made pasta sauce for many, many meals to come!

By the way, I wouldn’t recommend this unless you have a deep freezer! This would probably fill or come close to filling most standard freezers. We are fortunate enough to have inherited my parents old chest freezer, which sits in our laundry room in the basement, filled with frozen sauce, breast milk and bags of fresh veggies – among other items.

Enjoy! And let me know if you decide to do this! I love helping and would be honored if this helped someone 🙂
Oh, and while I was busy with the sauce (the first day) this is what was happening to our bag of recycling!

Miranda made a HUGE mess with the recycling!