lunchbox life: chicken enchiladas with homemade verde sauce

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Happy Sunday!  This week’s lunch is something I made a variation of several times, but this time, I decided to make my own enchilada verde sauce.  You can buy your own in a large can, but this sauce is so easy, and it’s a great way to control the ingredients of your food without all of the additives that many factories use for longer shelf life.  I’ve only made three lunches this week because I have a training later in the week, but I’ve adjusted the recipe so that you could get five servings or one week’s lunches from the ingredient amounts.  This would also be a great weeknight meal!

Tomatillos are the main ingredient in the verde sauce.  You can find them near the tomatoes and avocados in the produce section of the grocery store.  When you remove the papery husks, the skin of the tomatillo will be sticky.  This is normal, but may feel a little weird to you, so I thought I’d give you a heads up!

I’m also featuring one of my favorite go-to ingredients: La Tortilla Low Carb-High Fiber Whole Wheat tortillas.  You can find these in the refrigerated section of the grocery store near the shredded cheese.  At only 70 calories each (or 1 PP if you’re a Weight Watchers person), that’s much better than the 120-170 calories that one flour tortilla will usually cost you.  That’s why you get two enchiladas per serving here–I’ll take it, won’t you?

Chicken Enchiladas with Homemade Verde Sauce

1 1/2 lbs. tomatillos

5 cloves garlic

2 poblano peppers

2 jalapeno peppers, roughly chopped with seeds and stems removed

1 bunch cilantro

1/2 Tbsp. salt

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts

2 cups white shredded queso cheese (you could also use a 4 cheese Mexican blend, but I like the look of the all white cheese with this dish)

2 cups arugula or spinach

10 La Tortilla Low Carb-High Fiber whole wheat tortillas

Turn on the broiler function in your oven.  Remove the husks of the tomatillos, halve them lengthwise, then place them cut-side down on a cookie sheet.  Add the garlic cloves in their paper exterior and place under the broiler for about 8 minutes, or until the tomatillos begin to char.  When you take this out of the oven, the garlic paper should easily slide off of the garlic cloves.

While the tomatillos and garlic are under the broiler, turn on the flame on one of the eyes of your gas stove.  (If you don’t have a gas stove, place the poblanos in the broiler with the tomatillos).  Place both poblanos directly on the eye and let the skin crackle and brown on both sides.  When the peppers have browned, place them in a plastic bag and gently slide off the excess charred skin, then cut out the seeds and stems.

In a food processor (or blender if you don’t have one), pulse the tomatillos, garlic, poblanos, jalapenos, a few handfuls of cilantro, and salt until is reaches a smooth consistency that looks like this:

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Place the sauce in a medium saucepan.  Cut the chicken breasts into inch-wide strips and place directly in the sauce.  Bring mixture to a boil, then place a lid on the saucepan and turn the heat down to low.  Allow this to cook for at least 10 minutes, then take the chicken out the the sauce and shred it with two forks on a cutting board.  Place the chicken in a small bowl and mix in about 2 Tbsps. of the verde sauce; set aside.

Heat the oven to 375 F.  Pour about 1/4 cup of the sauce into the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.  Assemble each of the ten enchiladas as follows: place about 2 Tbsps. cheese in a line down the middle of the tortilla (leaving an inch on each end free), then add a handful of the chicken, then a handful of the arugula.  Fold the top and bottom of the tortilla where the mixture is, then roll it up horizontally and place it seam-side down in the baking dish.  Do this for all of the tortillas.

Cover the enchiladas with the remaining verde sauce, then cover that with the remaining cheese.  Bake for about 25 minutes, or just when the cheese begins to bubble and brown.

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