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Butternut squash enchiladas are a vegetarian dinner dream. The slightly sweet combination of squash combined with the rich, earthy spices of ancho chili powder, cumin, and oregano create a sure-to-please vegetarian take on a classic.

Butternut squash is to fall as zucchini is to summer: There’s always a lot of it, and a lot to do with it.

This recipe for enchiladas—made with corn tortillas, bathed in a spicy red sauce, and filled with roasted squash—just made my autumn meal plan more exciting! In fact, anything to do with tortillas makes the world go round in my house, so this meal is a guaranteed winner.

Calabaza is the generic name in Spanish for hard squashes that grow south of the border, which are akin to butternut and acorn squash. Though it may not be exactly Mexican (in the same way a butternut squash is not exactly the same as a pumpkin) the use of squash in Mexican cuisine is very common.

DO YOU NEED TO PEEL BUTTERNUT SQUASH?

Stop right there. I discovered that peeling butternut squash is a matter of taste. If you are pureeing it, I concede that you could peel it. But if you are roasting it? That’s your call. The skins are not unpleasant. They are not even as tough as apple skins. Whether you peel or not, you still have to remove the seeds.

HOW TO CUT A BUTTERNUT SQUASH

  1. The best way to tackle a squash is to separate the “neck” from the bulbous end, and deal with it in two parts with a large chef’s knife.
  2. Once you have cut the neck from the round end, you will have two pieces. Work with one piece at a time. We have a tutorial on how to do that here.
  3. Take the round end and halve it, then scoop out the seeds with a sharp-edged spoon. Place the flat side down on the cutting board, slice it into wedges, and slice the wedges into chunks.
  4. The “neck” is a cylinder. Trim off the stem end, and then trim a thin strip along one side of the cylinder so you have a flat edge of squash. Set the squash so the flat side is down. From there, you can safely cut it into slabs and cut the slabs into cubes.

HOW TO MAKE ENCHILADA SAUCE

The long way to make enchilada sauce is to roast tomatoes and re-hydrate dried ancho chiles, but the enchilada sauce in this recipe is easy and straightforward.

I took the liberty of using canned tomatoes and pure ancho chili powder (not the generic chili powder which usually has dried onion or garlic and sometimes cumin or other spices) to make it quick and easy. Although I prefer ancho chili powder, if you can’t find it, feel free to use whatever chili powder you have available to you.

Puree all the sauce ingredients in a blender and then cook the sauce in a skillet, which will be convenient when it comes time to dip the tortillas in the sauce. Just a few minutes of cooking brings all the flavors together.

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