Vegetarian Enchiladas Verdes This Sunday the Mexican restaurants in town are likely to have overflowing, boisterous crowds as Americans flock to them to celebrate our country’s version of Cinco de Mayo. Cinco de Mayo celebrates a major Mexican victory against French invaders on May 5, 1862, but here it is mostly a festive excuse for people to drink Coronas, margaritas and enjoy Mexican food. Cinco de Mayo is sometimes confused with Mexican Independence Day, which actually falls on September 16th but isn’t celebrated widely in the US or Canada.

I grew up in Santa Barbara, California, which has a large population of immigrants from Mexico, and consequently has some of the best Mexican food in the states. People flock to stand in long lines at a glorified taco stand called La Super Rica, which was known to be among Julia Child’s favorite places to eat.  But my family prefers a slightly more civilized and less crowded place just down the road from La Super Rica called Los Agaves, which has the best enchiladas I’ve ever tasted and a killer salsa bar to accompany their delicate, freshly fried tortilla chips.

I love enchiladas, but traditional enchiladas, such as those we enjoy at Los Agaves, can take far too long to make for a weeknight family dinner. These vegetable enchiladas inspired by a recipe from Six O’Clock Scramble subscriber Alison Kavanaugh of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, are light and full of healthy vegetables rather than chicken or cheese, and have only about 250 calories each.

You might also enjoy Molletes with Pico de Gallo from my friend Pati Jinich, whose fabulous new cookbook is called Pati’s Mexican Table (which is also the name of her show on PBS).

Pati's cookbook


Recipe: Vegetarian Enchiladas Verdes

  • Total Time: 30 min(s)
  • Servings: 8
  • Delicious and satisfying, yet healthful and easy to make.


      • 1 tsp. canola or vegetable oil
      • 8 – 10 oz. sliced mushrooms
      • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
      • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
      • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
      • 12 oz. baby spinach
      • 2 wedges Light Laughing Cow Creamy Swiss or Garlic and Herb cheese
      • 12 oz. salsa verde (green salsa) (use a high quality jarred salsa such as Frontera)
      • 8 whole wheat tortillas
      • 1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
      • 1 cup nonfat sour cream, for serving (optional)
      • 1/4 – 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, for serving (optional)


      1. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, chili powder, cumin and garlic powder, stir to combine, and then cover the pan for 2 minutes. Uncover the pan and continue to sauté the mushrooms for 2 more minutes until they are dark and tender.
      2. Meanwhile, preheat the broiler, set the rack about 6 inches from the heating element, and spray a 9 x 13-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
      3. Add the spinach to the skillet, cover the pan for 1 – 2 minutes until the spinach wilts, then uncover the pan and add the cheese wedges, stirring to distribute evenly. Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside.
      4. In a second pan just large enough to fit a tortilla, heat 1 cup of the salsa over medium-low heat. Using tongs or your fingers, dredge both sides of a tortilla in the salsa, then place about 1/8 of the spinach and mushroom mixture on one side of the tortilla, roll it up and place it in the baking pan. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling. Top evenly with the remaining salsa and the shredded cheese, and broil them for 3 – 4 minutes until the cheese is melted and the edges are browned. Serve them immediately topped with the sour cream and cilantro, if desired.

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