When I was in 7th grade, half the girls in school had their lockers plastered with ripped out magazine photos of Freddie Prinze Jr. This was 1999, and peak Freddie fever was happening in a post-I Know What You Did Last Summer and She’s All That world.
I, on the other hand, was decorating my locker at the time with the ripped out magazine pages displaying Haribo ads, you know, the ones where the gummy bears were playing spin the bottle with happy cola? Obviously, I was super cool.
But I did watch all of Freddie Prinze Jr.'s rom-com movies in the late 90s/early aughts, including She’s All That, and then all the weird ones after like Down to You, Girls and Boys and the one with Christina from Parenthood where he’s just kind of there and there’s a bunch of models for some reason. I also was one of probably two people to watch that one movie with a bleached blonde Matthew Lillard where they were space pilots fighting an army of purple alien lions (at least, that’s my memory of it anyway and how do these things get made?).
So you can imagine how weird it is to see him appearing all salt and pepper-haired on the cover of a cookbook, making me feel ancient. I mean, I know the 90’s are back, but I was not prepared for it to happen in quite this shocking of a manner.
But really, when I first heard FPJr was coming out with a cookbook, I was not surprised. I think his love of food and cooking was always kind of a runner in the background of stories about him, and I remember reading some interview with Sarah Michelle Gellar where she was complaining about the media scrutiny around her weight and relating some nonsense tabloid story where apparently Freddie and his friends had to come over and cook for her to make her better. So based on that nugget of a tale, I knew he must have some real chops in the kitchen.
And you know what? It’s a pretty good cookbook! I was on the fence about buying it, because ugh, another celebrity cookbook, but then I went to Boston in July and flipped through my sister’s copy. Yes, there are the standard “best” pancakes and french toast recipes that don’t seem too innovative, but there are also tons of recipes showcasing the influence of his New Mexico upbringing and all those cute pictures of him in the kitchen with Buffy and their cute kids, so I was pretty much sold.
So, I got my own copy and decided to make some enchiladas. He had a pretty good sounding green chile chicken enchilada recipe, but I was in the mood for cheese and spinach, so I took his recipe and ran with it in a vegetarian direction. It was a different method for enchiladas than I’ve made in the past, using flour tortillas and with more focus on the filling and no real sauce, but man was this good. It came out like a super hearty and creamy enchilada dish, where all of the different parts melted together in to a cheesy, gooey, almost lasagna-like casserole, with just enough heat from the chiles. The leftovers were even better. I brought this for lunch to work for 3 days straight, and I was so, so sad when I finished the last bite.
Green Chile Spinach, Cheese & Mushroom Enchiladas
Adapted very liberally from Freddie Prinze Jr.(!!)
- 1/8 cup olive oil
- 3/4 lb green chiles, roasted and chopped (see note)
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 can semi-condensed mushroom soup (see note)
- 1 bag frozen, chopped spinach (about 2 cups)
- 1 tbs butter
- 8-10 medium sized flour tortillas
- 1 1/4 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
- 1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
- Heat oven to 400 degrees.
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over low heat, then add the chopped chiles and cook until fragrant. Add the salt, pepper and garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the spinach and cook to dry it out a bit, another couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the mushroom soup with the filling. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
- Grease an 8x8 baking dish or cast iron skillet with the butter. Mix the cheeses together in a bowl. Warm the tortillas (either on the stove or in the microwave) and keep warm, covered, on a plate.
- Get your assembly line ready: from left to right, place your tortillas, your cheese, your filling, and your buttered skillet. Use a small cutting board or plate to roll enchiladas on.
- One at a time, lay a tortilla flat on the cutting board or plate, then place a bit of the cheese along the middle of the tortilla. Dollop a few spoonfulls of the filling and roll tightly. Place seam side down in the pan, then repeat with remaining tortillas until pan is full.
- Top the rolled enchiladas with the rest of the filling and remaining cheese. Cover skillet with foil and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and bake 10 minutes more, until cheese is turning golden and is bubbling. Let sit for 10 minutes then serve!
- You want to try to find green Hatch chiles for this recipe, although Anaheims work well as a substitute, and in fact are what I used here. To roast, broil on a sheet pan until blistered and charred, turning periodically to roast all sides. Remove from oven and place peppers in a sealed plastic bag and let cool for a few minutes. Remove from the bag, and peel. The few minutes of steaming should make the skins slide right off, but a little stuck on is fine, that's just flavor! Remove the stems and seeds and chop the chiles into a rough dice. This is really super easy but if it sounds like too much work you can usually find canned hatch chiles in the Hispanic foods aisle of most major grocery chains.
- I call for semi-condensed soup here, which I had never heard of until I tried to go buy condensed cream of mushroom soup the other day. I used the Amy's brand I found at Whole Foods. If you can't find a semi-condensed soup, Adding a few tablespoons of water to the mixture should work well, or you can just use the condensed soup alone and have a slightly thicker filling. The original recipe called for an optional cup of stock, which you could also add if you like a very wet style enchilada.
- The amount of filling you use in each rolled tortilla is vague, I know, but that's because I really didn't put enough in mine, but I liked the effect of spooning all the remaining filling on top. If you want your enchiladas a little fuller, I would say definitely add more to each, just make sure they are not so full that they won't stay rolled.