Cooking inspiration from the library

A friend told me her strategy for staying inspired in the kitchen and staying current with what’s happening in the cookbook world.  When she goes to our local library, she makes a beeline for the New Books section and looks for new nonfiction books about cooking (call number 641.XX) to see if anything appeals.

I decided to try her strategy. Lynn Alley’s The Gourmet Vegetarian Slow Cooker: Simple and Sophisticated Meals From Around the World jumped off the New Books shelf.  I paged through it that night at home and identified Stacked Cauliflower Enchilada with Green Chile Sauce to make the next day because I had almost all of the listed ingredients and some not on the list.

Something you should know about me and recipes: It is really difficult for me to follow a recipe word for word, ingredient by ingredient.  I think that’s because I see recipes as a guide or a jumping-off place—not a rule book.  This time was no different.

Kudos to Lynn Alley for this very tasty dish.  What an imaginative way to use a slow cooker—as an oven for a layered vegetable enchilada casserole.  It was so simple to prepare and was waiting, fully cooked, when I got home from being away all day.

Here’s my modified recipe.  Note: The amounts depend on how big your slow cooker is—I had leftover ingredients that wouldn’t fit into my 3-quart (small!) slow cooker, so I put them into a casserole dish to bake separately in my toaster oven.

Stacked Cauliflower Enchilada with Green Chile Sauce

  • 1 head cauliflower, cored and sliced vertically
  • 1 white onion, sliced
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 waxy potatoes (like red potatoes), chopped
  • 5 tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and chopped
  • Handful of cilantro, chopped
  • 2 jalapenos, diced (we like spicy)
  • 1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Corn tortillas
  • Shredded pesto Jack cheese (4 oz.?)
  • 1 16-oz. jar green enchilada sauce
  • Crumbled queso fresco (3 oz.?)

In a large bowl, toss the vegetables and black beans.  Oil the inside of the slow cooker insert.  Place 1 or 2 tortillas (overlapping) in the bottom depending on the size of your cooker insert.  Add a layer of the vegetable-bean mixture, sprinkle with shredded cheese, and top with about 1/2 cup of green sauce.  Add another layer of tortillas, more vegetable-bean mixture, shredded cheese, and another 1/2 cup of green sauce.  Finish with a layer of tortillas and the remaining green sauce (will be absorbed into the tortillas).   Cover and cook on low for 5 or 6 hours, until the cauliflower is tender.  Top with any leftover shredded cheese and the queso fresco, and cook until the cheese is melted.  Turn off the cooker and let the contents rest for 10 or 15 minutes before serving.  Really yummy!

I plan to try more of Lynn’s recipes from the world’s cuisines.  The cookbook has sections for India, Mexico/Southwest, Asia, Italy, France, Greece, and the Middle East.  I think I’ll try my hand at the easier ones first …

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