Cooked Zucchini Enchiladas in a white casserole dish on a cork trivet
Dinner Gluten Free Paleo Recipes Sauces

Zucchini Enchiladas

Mexican food never gets old for me. I truly could eat it everyday and never tire of it. Yet, I do believe my body would disagree.

The enchiladas are wrapped in thinly sliced Zucchini instead of tortillas which makes the dish low-carb and gluten free.

I love this recipe because you really don’t miss the tortilla at all. Some GF or low-carb recipes are really good for a healthy recipe but still don’t compare to the real thing. These enchiladas are not like that at all. You’ll keep going back for more, and more.

The sauce is made from scratch, which I know might seem overwhelming to some, but I promise it’s totally foolproof and it makes such a difference in the end. If you choose to make it from scratch, keep reading as there’s some helpful tips in here you don’t want to miss.

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That being said, it’s an additional step that some of you may not have time for, or you’d rather keep it super simple. You can definitely buy a great premade enchilada sauce but I’ve never found one I love as much as homemade and since I do have the time I prefer to make it from scratch. Email me if you find one you love and I’ll add it to this post as a resource!

The recipe makes double the amount of sauce you’ll use for the dish so I usually freeze the remainder which makes this a perfect weeknight dinner. Especially if you also use a rotisserie chicken.

Helpful Tips:

If you are making the recipe from scratch, you may need to do a little research to find the dried chiles. Although they’re readily available in many grocery stores, they don’t always have the best selection. I’ve found them at Whole Foods but the selection has been inconsistent.

I like to go to one of the Mexican markets here in Petaluma since they usually have bigger selection and I suspect their turnover is higher which means they’re likely to be fresher.

There’s also tons of online retailers that sell dried chiles, like Amazon or Instacart so you can check there as well.

The two chiles I used here are dried guajillo and ancho. Both are very widely used. Guajillo chiles are long with smooth red skin and have a mild flavor. Ancho chiles are dried poblanos. They are sweet, mild-medium in heat and have a dark red-brown wrinkly skin. You can store chiles in an airtight container for up to 6 months or you can freeze them for up to a year.

Dried guajillo and ancho chiles in a bowl on a cutting board

Before blending the chiles you need to rehydrate them. You can do this by boiling them for 10-15 minutes to soften the skin. I suggest rehydrating them while you char the other veggies for the sauce (tomatoes, garlic and onion). You can char them on a grill, in a grill-pan or skillet or even in the broiler of your oven. You are going for dark brown/black marks on the majority of each vegetable. This step really adds depth of flavor to the sauce so don’t skip it!

Important tools:

I’ve sung the praises of my favorite mandoline many times on the blog, and this recipe is one where you’ll really miss it. You can definitely still make the dish but it’s much, much more time consuming to thinly and evenly slice the zucchini. Here’s the link again to my favorite Benriner Mandoline buy one, you won’t regret it.

Here are a few visuals of the process

Thinly sliced zucchini on a cutting board next to a mandoline
Thinly slice the zucchini with a mandoline slicer
Zucchini slices in 3 rows on a paper towel
Place the slices in a single layer between two paper towels and press to remove excess water. This also sets up an assembly line for filling and rolling the enchiladas.
Medium bowl filled with shredded chicken, red onion, cream cheese, cilantro, granulated garlic, cumin and coriander
Ingredients for filling

Non stick skillet with shredded chicken for enchiladas and a pair of tongs
Filling combined with red sauce
Zucchini Enchiladas with red sauce and shredded cheese in a casserole dish
Spread a little sauce evenly across the bottom of a casserole dish, place the enchiladas in the dish and top with more sauce and shredded cheese. Bake for 15-20 min.
Cooked Zucchini Enchiladas in a white casserole dish on a cork trivet
Garnish with more chopped cilantro, thinly sliced red onion and avocado or sour cream if you like.
2 Zucchini Enchiladas with a sprig of cilantro and sliced avocado in a bowl with a fork

Zucchini Enchiladas

Carrie Beyer
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 8 people

Equipment

  • Mandoline Slicer

Ingredients
  

For red chile sauce

  • 5 tomatoes, lightly charred
  • 4 garlic cloves, lightly charred
  • 1/2 white onion, lightly charred
  • 5 dried and rehydrated ancho chiles
  • 2 dried and rehydrated guajillo chiles
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

For Enchiladas

  • 3 cups shredded boneless skinless chicken breasts roughly 3 chicken breasts
  • 1/4 red onion thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 oz cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup shredded monterey jack or mexican blend cheese
  • 2 cups red chile enchilada sauce 1 1/2 cups for chicken mix, 1/2 cup split between top and bottom of enchiladas
  • 1/2 tsp each dried cumin, coriander, granulated garlic
  • 3-4 medium-large zucchini

Toppings

  • 1/2 cup shredded monterey jack or mexican blend cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 red onion thinly sliced
  • 2 ripe avocados

Instructions
 

For red chile sauce

  • Break open the dried chiles and remove the stems and seeds. Boil the chiles for 10-15 minutes to rehydrate and soften their skin.
  • Meanwhile, using a grill-pan, cast iron skillet, BBQ grill or the broiler of your oven, lightly char the tomatoes, onion and garlic. Don't use any oil and you'll get a better char. (This step is really important since it develops more flavor).
  • Place rehydrated chiles, charred tomatoes, onion and garlic in a high powered blender with the sour cream, salt and pepper. Once pureed, transfer to a skillet and bring the sauce to a low simmer. Add the heavy cream and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve 1/2 cup of sauce in a small bowl and set aside.

For enchiladas

  • Preheat the oven to 350.
  • Add about 3 tbsp olive oil to an ovenproof skillet or baking dish and bake chicken for about 30 minutes or until internal temperature reads 165. Once cooled shred chicken into bite sized pieces with your fingers. Alternately you can use a slow cooker (if you've thought ahead) or instant pot to cook chicken according to directions on cooking device. Better yet buy a precooked rotisserie chicken and shred into bite sized pieces.
  • To the enchilada sauce still in the skillet add shredded chicken, chopped cilantro, thinly sliced red onion, garlic powder, cumin, coriander, cream cheese, 3/4 cup shredded cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly to combine.
  • Thinly slice zucchini with a mandolin slicer. Remove stems and ends first and use the first 4-5 slices as a practice to get the desired thickness. Adjust the mandoline accordingly. You won't use the first few slices anyway since you want the thickest pieces from the middle of the zucchini. You're going for super thin slices, about 1/16 inch thick. You'll need about 50 good slices to make 16 enchiladas. Keep in mind the zucchini makes for small enchiladas so the serving size is 2 per person.
  • Spread the zucchini slices out in a single layer between two pieces of paper towel on the counter or other large surface for assembly. Press down to remove excess moisture. This will ensure you don't have soggy enchiladas.
  • Spread 1/4 cup of reserved red sauce evenly on the bottom of an oiled casserole dish.
  • Assemble 16 enchiladas by taking 3 slices of zucchini and placing them so they're slightly overlapping (makes one enchilada). Do this to all the zucchini first, then assemble each enchilada with 1 heaping spoonful of filling in the middle of each set of 3 zucchini. Roll each one up and place in the casserole dish. Repeat until all zucchini and filling are gone.
  • Top with remaining 1/4 cup red sauce spread evenly across all enchiladas and 1/2 cup shredded cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes until cheese and sauce are bubbling and zucchini are tender but not soggy.
  • Top with thinly sliced red onion, chopped cilantro, sliced avocado and sour cream if desired.
Keyword Enchiladas, Gluten Free Enchiladas, Gluten Free Recipes, Low Carb Recipes, Weeknight Dinner, Zucchini Enchiladas

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