Squash Encha-quile-sagna

Yeah. You read that right. This is the Frankenstein of enchiladas. This is what happens when you get bored in the kitchen and almost have enough ingredients to do something interesting. Except that you’re lazy. Like me.

This started as a plan to make squash enchiladas since we had Las Delicias tortillas left over from last weekend and some gorgeous yellow and zucchini squash that we got from Steve Richardson yesterday at the Cooper-Young market. I have a recipe for homemade enchilada sauce that I can’t really share here now. (You’ll have to buy the book next fall to get it.) So that was the plan, and it was a pretty good one if I do say so myself.

All I needed to really make it good would have been some queso fresco and maybe some Oaxaca cheese. Except that would have meant going to the store today. Getting out of the house. Getting dressed. Quelle horreur!

BUT, thanks to a coupon and our recent trip to Costco, we had a big package of sliced medium Tillamook cheddar. Not what I had in mind, but okay. No leaving the house after all. The day was saved. The sun could shine without me under it. So yeah, that’s where the laziness came into the equation.

So we sauteed thin slices of seasoned squash. We made enchilada sauce. (We weren’t totally lazy.) We de-papered the cheese. And we started assembling. Again, the laziness came into play. Sure, we could have softened up the tortillas and rolled up enchiladas and lined them up all pretty in the pan. But that’s a whole lot of effort. Seriously.

So we went for the lasagna method. We called it stacked enchiladas, but instead of making them pretty little stacks, we made it in layers, especially good since our cheese was in slices and it would have taken effort to break it up. Besides, the lasagna method means more cheese, and there’s never any reason to not have more cheese. So that was working. Until we realized that we had more squash and sauce and cheese than tortillas.

This is where the -quile part come in. We might be out of tortillas, but we did just buy tortilla chips from Las Delicias yesterday. And chilaquiles are kind of like enchiladas with tortilla chips instead of tortillas. So, we ended up with a chilaquiles-like layer. Improvisation — the true characteristic of American ingenuity.

Then it went into the oven and we all crossed our fingers. Even the cats crossed their fingers. Even the chickens crossed their… wait… Never mind that last one.

It baked. It smelled good. It looked good. But the taste? Oh yeah. This is some good something. Chipotle gave it smokiness, cumin perked up the squash, the tortilla chips added a touch of crunch, and the cheese was gooey yumminess. Surprisingly enough, it worked. Even Patric liked it. But he’s weird that way, so maybe that’s not saying so much. The dogs thought it smelled good even with no meat, so I took that as a good sign.

So, should you make this at home? Do you like squash? Do you like enchiladas? And chilaquiles? And lasagna? If you answered yes, that sure, give it a whirl. This isn’t an exact recipe, but then something like this never does have one. No, there is no photo for this one. It’s good, but it’s not exactly photogenic if you know what I mean. Not all food should be immortalized on film. There are some things that not even Photoshop can fix.

Squash Encha-quile-sagna

A good Mexican cheese will make this more sophisticated and add different texture and flavor. The seasoning is also variable. Ground ancho or guajillo would be less spicy than the chipotle. Ground coriander would be a good addition. Spinach would be good mixed in with the squash. If you want meat, shredded chicken would be a good addition. If you have enough tortillas, feel free to leave out the tortilla chips. Make it fancy with fresh onion and cilantro on top if you want to. Whatever you do, have fun with it and don't worry. After all, ugly food just tastes better.
Servings: 12 servings


  • 1 tablespoon corn oil
  • 4 large zucchini sliced into thin rounds
  • 8 small yellow squash sliced into long thin pieces
  • 2 teaspoons ground chipotle
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • Salt to taste
  • 32 ounces enchilada sauce homemade or store-bought
  • Corn tortillas
  • Tortilla chips
  • Cheese how much and what kind is completely up to you


  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches to keep from overcrowding the skillet, saute the squash with chipotle, cumin, and salt, dividing the spices evenly to match the number of batches you cook. Cook the squash for 8-10 minutes per batch or until the squash slices are soft and start to show brown spots.
  • While the squash is cooking, heat the enchilada sauce over medium heat until bubbly.
  • Prepare the dish by pouring a thin layer of enchilada sauce into the bottom of a large baking dish. Lay in an even layer of corn tortillas. Top with more sauce to help the tortillas soften as the dish cooks. Top this with half of the sauteed squash and cheese. Ladle more sauce over the cheese, add another layer of tortillas, the remainder of the squash, and more cheese. Ladle on more squash, top with tortilla chips, and cover with a final layer of cheese.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and any uncovered tortilla chips are starting to brown.
  • Allow the dish to rest for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.
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