Have you ever accidentally met a new best friend? I have. Many times over.
My teacher hippie friend Heather and I – who has the most voluminous messy blonde hair you’ll ever hate not having – met at a summer camp in Northern California in 2006 when she took the job as a stand-in lifeguard and I was a 9- and 10-year-old girls counselor. It was her first day and I hated seeing her so alone not knowing anyone, so I walked over and introduced myself. After a spattering of exchanges we quickly bonded over a love for exercise, big hair and blueberries and oatmeal for breakfast. The rest is history.
Though we only spent two full months together that summer, we were like sisters by the time I flew back to Kansas in August. And it was one of the most bittersweet days of my young adult life.
Another new best friend story I’ve been loving to tell lately is one that happened just recently. John and I were still in the market for a new rental about a month ago. We’d called on a place and made a 3:30 appointment and got there right on the dot. We walked up and were greeted by the realtor…and another couple who’d also been promised a 3:30 showing.
You’d think the whole situation would’ve been painfully awkward but one joke from John suggesting the place was big enough to “go splitsies on,” and we were laughing it up like longtime friends.
As I tell it now, we totally “hit it off” and have been hanging out ever since. They may not be our “best friends” yet, but I’m working on it. I can only make so much bonding magic happen in a matter of 4 weeks.
Our new friends moved here from Ohio and ended up buying a big house right down the street from our new duplex. Upon their arrival they literally had no dishes, furniture or food, so John had the brilliant idea to take them dinner. Why didn’t I, in all of my hostess-y food blogging glory think of that?
I decided to attempt enchiladas*: Simple, transportable, affordable, and great for pleasing a large crowd. To keep the filling vegetarian, I went with black beans, sour cream, green chilis, and Manchego cheese. And to avoid gluten, I opted for corn tortillas – a first for me, so this was a bit of an experiment.
*Note: learn more about the origins of enchiladas here.
Though they turned out a little bit soggy because I didn’t drench them in hot oil before rolling up – a process I’d read about that sounded complicated and excessive to me – they were super flavorful and filling. This can avoided by simply opting for flour tortillas (see my notes below). I served ours with grilled fajita peppers and onions and a touch more sour cream, and they were simply delicious. John even got seconds, and that’s saying a lot since he’s usually a one serving and out kind of guy.
On paper plates in a near-empty living room with wine in Dixie cups, we dined. And we dined well. Chips, salsa, wine and these savory beauties. I hope our friends felt welcomed; we sure hope they do now that they are thousands of miles from “home.” Considering their first-time success, I recommend making these enchiladas and sharing with friends – new and old – I have a feeling they’ll kind of love you for it. Promise.
Spicy Black Bean, Green Chili & Manchego Enchiladas
- 12 small corn or flour tortillas (I’d recommend flour)
- 1 15-ounce can black beans (drained and rinsed)
- 1 4-ounce can diced green chilies
- 1 28-ounce can red enchilada sauce (such as Las Palmas)
- 1/2 cup grated Manchego cheese (plus more for topping // or sub Cotija or Pepper Jack)
- 1/4 cup light sour cream or Greek yogurt
- Diced green onion
- Grilled fajita vegetables
- Sour cream
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C) and position a baking rack in the middle of the oven.
- Combine black beans, green chilies, sour cream and manchego cheese in a mixing bowl. Taste and add salt and pepper if desired. Cumin may also be a good addition, but fine without. Set aside.
- Warm the enchilada sauce in a large shallow pan over low-medium heat. Then turn off the heat.
- Pour a small amount of enchilada sauce to lightly coat the bottom of a 9×13 dish (adjust pan size if altering batch size).
- Transfer one tortilla at a time to the baking dish and flip to coat both sides. Then add 2 Tbsp of the black bean filling and roll up. Place seam side down and continue until the pan is filled – should be about 10-12 enchiladas (as original recipe is written). As you go, add more of the warmed enchilada sauce to the baking dish to keep the tortillas lightly coated.
- Top enchiladas with a bit more enchilada sauce down the middle (adding too much sauce can make these soggy).
- Top with a bit more cheese and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly.
- Serve with toppings such as avocado, guacamole, salsa, fajita veggies, sour cream, green onion, cilantro or lettuce.
- Will keep in the fridge for a couple days. Reheat in oven or microwave.