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Pumpkin Enchilada Casserole with Red Chile Sauce and Poblano-Pepita Salsa

Servings: 6 to 8

If you need a vegetarian “star” for the Thanksgiving table, this is it. (But if you have leftover cooked turkey on hand, it also makes a delicious addition to the filling.)


For the Sauce

  • 3 oz. dried California chiles (about 10)
  • 3/4 oz. dried ancho chiles (about 2)
  • 6 large cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbs. light brown sugar
  • Kosher salt

For the Filling

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into small dice
  • 4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbs. ground cumin
  • 3 cups 1/2-inch-diced peeled, seeded pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup lower-salt chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups diced leftover skinless roast turkey or rotisserie chicken (optional)
  • Kosher salt

For Assembly

  • Olive oil
  • Ten 6-inch corn tortillas
  • 3 cups packed grated Monterey Jack cheese (3/4 lb.)
  • 1 recipe Poblano-Pepita Salsa
  • Crema Mexicana or sour cream, for serving

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 500
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 220
  • Fat (g): 24
  • Saturated Fat (g): 10
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2.5
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 10
  • Cholesterol (mg): 70
  • Sodium (mg): 1100
  • Carbohydrates (g): 42
  • Fiber (g): 7
  • Protein (g): 30


Make the sauce

  • Stem, seed, and rinse the chiles. Put the chiles, garlic, oregano, and 3 cups water in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chiles and garlic are very tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for 30 minutes. Purée in a blender.
  • Heat the olive oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir until it begins to color, 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully stir in the chile mixture—it will spatter—and bring to a boil. Stir in the sugar and 2 tsp. salt. Keep warm.

Make the Filling

  • Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over mediumhigh heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until nicely browned, about 11 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the cumin and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the pumpkin and stir to coat. Lower the heat to medium, add the broth, cover, and simmer until the pumpkin is just tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the turkey (if using) and season to taste with salt. asse mble
  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Brush a 9×13-inch baking dish with olive oil. Spread 3/4 cup of the sauce evenly over the bottom of the dish. Heat a griddle or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and brush lightly with oil. One at a time, heat 5 tortillas until softened and pliable, about 1 minute per side. Arrange the griddled tortillas over the sauce in the pan (you can cut them to fit if necessary). Spread 1/2 cup sauce over the tortillas. Spoon the filling evenly over the sauce and top with 1 cup cheese. Drizzle 1/2 cup of the sauce over the cheese. Heat the remaining tortillas on the griddle. Arrange the tortillas evenly over the sauce, filling, and cheese. Spread the remaining sauce over the tortillas and sprinkle withthe remaining cheese. Bake until the cheese bubbles and the casserole is heated through, 30 to 35 minutes. Let sit for at least 10 minutes before serving with the salsa and crema.

Serve Cold Avocado Soup with Chile-Lime Pepitas or Chunky Guacamole with Homemade Tortilla Chips while the casserole is cooling. Gorditas de Piloncillo (Sweet Fried Masa Cakes) with Mexican Hot Chocolate make for a sweet finish.


Rate or Review

Reviews (9 reviews)

  • ebrasier | 12/05/2011

    The sauce for this recipe completely overwhelms the flavor of the pumpkin mixture and is lacking any depth of flavor. The sauce was very bitter and definitely needed something to round it out. The salsa that is recommended was very good and did help in covering up the bitterness of the sauce but not enough.

  • goldbug | 01/16/2011

    I made this recipe without the poultry. I believe turkey or chicken should not be "optional" given the results I had. I purchased a proper pumpkin for cooking and made sure not to overcook. The texture of the casserole was too soft even when served with the poblano-pepita salsa. It might be better to sprinkle whole pepitas on top of the casserole rather than chop them in food processor and incorporate in the salsa. I agree with other reviewers who found the vegetarian version to lack flavor.

  • chrisKlint | 01/03/2011

    I made this with chicken. It was labor intensive, with plenty of clean-up while it is in the oven, but it was totally worth it. I consider this a dinner party worthy recipe. My one quibble is that you should strain the skin and stray seeds out of the sauce. When you do this you are then short on the sauce. The sauce needs to be at least 1.5 times to 2 times the written recipe. You will have to do it in batches in the blender. Don't forget the margaritas!

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