Last weekend along with the kitchen partner’s ambitious corn project, he also canned 6 quarts of a spicy enchilada sauce. Funny that it was supposed to be spaghetti sauce, but hey, it happens. (He misjudged the number of jalapeno peppers when doubling the recipe, but it turns out to be really good enchilada sauce). All of the ingredients apart from the vinegar were from our community garden plot and the St. Paul Farmers’ Market.
On Saturday and Sunday mornings, walking the few blocks into the downtown market has become a weekend habit. I love strolling up and down the aisles, watching for the ripest tomatoes and the fullest pint of raspberries. Today’s reason to support local food relates to preserving the farmers’ market, as well as preserving the larger environment that sustains us all.
- The local producers at the St. Paul Farmers’ Market have an established economy for their goods. I (and other happy Minnesotans) show up every weekend knowing the market will be filled with tasty options. The vendors show up knowing that I brought my wallet and am willing to pay a bit more for the quality they offer.
- I (and other happy Minnesotans), will only show up every weekend as long as there is a quality product to buy. There is an incentive for the vendors to have a great product.
- Over time, conventional farming practices can deteriorate soil quality and the environment and consequently, deteriorate the quality of the product grown. Production may go up in the short run, but quality will deteriorate in the long-term.
- Because the vendors are secure in knowing there is an established market for their goods, and in order to maintain this economy, the vendors choose growing practices that will sustain their high quality product over time.
- The methods that sustain the highest quality, freshest products also happen to be those that are better for the environment (organic, sustainable, intensive-planting, free-range, etc.) and sell the best. Everyone wants the products that look the best.
One might even suggest buying local may be more environmentally sustainable than buying organic, since the distance an organic banana must travel to Minnesota still requires a measurable amount of fossil fuels.
Phew. Got all that? Now get this: making your own enchilada sauce is almost as easy as opening the canned stuff. Just as long as you aren’t expecting spaghetti sauce that is…
Black Bean Enchiladas
For the Sauce
2 C. chopped, seeded, peeled tomatoes
1/4 C. chopped, seeded, peeled cucumber
1/4 C. chopped, seeded green pepper
1/4 C. sliced green onion
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and sliced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp. dried marjoram
1/8 C. white vinegar
For the Enchiladas
3 C. black beans, cooked
1 C. shredded cheddar cheese, plus more for topping
12 taco shells
1. Place all sauce ingredients in a large sauce pot. Heat to boiling over medium-heat and boil 10 minutes. Using an immersion blender, blend sauce until smooth. If you like sauce slightly chunkier, pulse the blender 3-4 times. If you prefer smoother sauce, blend up to 90 seconds.
2. Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly spray a 9 x 13″ baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Pour 1/2 C. sauce in the baking dish and use the back of a spoon to spread in an even layer over the bottom of the dish.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine beans, cheese and 1/4 of enchilada sauce. Spoon 1/4 C. of filling into a taco shell, roll up and place in the baking dish. Repeat with each taco shell until dish is full. Spoon any remaining filling mixture over the top of shells. Cover with remaining enchilada sauce. Sprinkle with cheese.
4. Bake for 30-35 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve with sour cream and favorite taco toppings.