Shrimp enchiladas with roasted poblano sauce

Craving a comfort dish inspired by warmer climes? Invite some friends over and serve up these spicy enchiladas.

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Shrimp enchiladas smothered with Monterey Jack cheese and roasted poblano sauce.

Every Wednesday my roommate, Rachel, and I host a dinner party. The guest list (8-10) is a mix of our friends, people we want to be our friends, and people we think should be friends with each other (also factored in is food preferences, schedule, frequency of invites). It's a different mix every week, and has been a great way to get to know new people while in graduate school.

And we take Wednesdays seriously. It's our chance to take a break mid-week, do something creative that doesn't involve Power Point and spend time with friends away from campus – not involving group projects or any work that we "should" be doing. Because the only thing we should be doing on Wednesday nights is eating a delicious meal together.

Usually I make dessert and Rachel handles the meal, but last night we switched things up. It is cold here in Boston, so we decided on dishes inspired by warm weather. I decided on a menu based on a dinner my mama made for me over winter break: shrimp enchiladas with roasted poblano sauce.

To account for hungry grad student appetites, I doubled the recipe and made a shrimp version and a butternut squash and cheese version (vegetarians, I got you covered!). These enchiladas are what I would call California food: heavy on the fresh vegetables, whole wheat tortillas, with a little bit of Mexican flavoring mixed in for a spicy kick. I served them over a simple salad of spinach, black beans, and red onion with lime/olive oil dressing, plus chips and tomatillo salsa.

The recipe is based on this one from Annie's Eats. You should make it – you will love it.

Shrimp Enchiladas with Roasted Poblano Sauce
Total time: Approximately 1 hour (if you factor in all the veggie chopping/shredding, give yourself an hour and a half.)

*Vegetarian version in brackets

For the sauce:

2 poblano peppers

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 tablespoons unbleached, all-purpose flour

1-1/2 cups chicken broth or veggie broth

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

3/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt, or some mix of the two (I did 50/50)

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

For the filling:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon oregano

Dash cayenne pepper (or more, if you like the heat)

Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

2 cups green cabbage, shredded**

2 carrots, peeled and shredded (**or you can use pre-packaged cole slaw)

2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (found in cans in the market), finely minced (seeded if you fear spice), or 1 teaspoon chipotle powder (tip: freeze extra peppers in ice cube trays and store in freezer bags)

1 pound shrimp, peeled, and deveined, and chopped [or 2 cups butternut squash, cubed in 1/4-inch squares]

To assemble:

10 to 12 (8-inch) whole wheat flour tortillas (you can use regular or corn tortillas if you prefer)

2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese [Vegetarian version: you will need an additional cup if you're doing the butternut squash version and want to put cheese inside the enchiladas]

1. To roast peppers: Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Place peppers in a medium baking dish. Bake, turning every 6-8 minutes until the skin is blistered over most of the surface, about 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl, cover, and let sit 15 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel away the skin and discard. Remove the stem (and the seeds and ribs too if you don't want it to be spicy). Coarsely chop the peppers and set aside.

2. To make the sauce: Melt butter in a medium saucepan, then stir in the chopped poblanos. Mix in flour, cooking briefly just until golden, 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the broth, adding a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add garlic powder. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture bubbles and thickens. Remove from heat and stir in the sour cream/yogurt and cilantro.

3. To make filling: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, oregano, and cayenne; cook until onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Stir in cabbage and carrots [and butternut squash]; cook, stirring occasionally, until veggies start to get tender (about 7-10 minutes).

5. Stir in chipotle peppers.

6. Stir in chopped raw shrimp; cook for about 2 minutes, stirring, until the shrimp start to get pink (don't worry about cooking them completely now because they'll finish in the oven).

7. To assemble: Lightly grease a 9- x 13-inch baking dish.

8. Place about 1/2 cup filling down the center of a tortilla. Roll up tightly and place in prepared pan, seam-side down. Repeat with remaining filling and tortillas. [Vegetarian version: sprinkle shredded cheese on the filling before rolling up.]

9. When pan is filled, pour the poblano sauce over the enchiladas.

10. Sprinkle with cheese.

11. Bake until bubbling and slightly golden, 20-25 minutes. At the end, turn off the oven and turn on the broiler for 2-4 minutes (watch them) to get the tops nice and brown. Sprinkle with additional cilantro. Serve immediately.

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