The first time, I had chilaquiles was at a lunch buffet in Cancun back in the early nineties! We were vegetarian at the time so we could eat cheese! Now we make it whenever we feel like having something warm, crunchy, and fun! It makes the best brunch! Serve with a side of baked or refried beans for a more nutritional meal.
Fun fact, the word “chilaquiles” comes from the Nahuatl language meaning chips and chilis. It makes a great appetizer or brunch.
Every country has one or more traditional dishes that reuses leftover food. You know, like fried rice in china with day-old rice, French toast or Panzanella salad for day-old bread. In Mexico, Chilaquiles recycled day-old chips and leftover salsa. And let’s not forget tortilla soup!
If you are in a hurry or can’t find fresh tomatillos in your local grocery store, a jar of green salsa can be used. Otherwise, about 1 pound of fresh tomatillos makes enough sauce for 4-6 servings. You can use this sauce on quesadillas, burritos, etc. In addition to a yellow or white onion, you can add a serrano or jalapeno pepper (if you can take the heat), some lime juice, and lots of fresh cilantro.
When preparing the tomatillos, you first remove the husks and rinse them under water to remove the stickiness.
In a large bowl, place the tomatillos, the sliced onion, the peeled garlic, and the serrano pepper. Sprinkle some olive oil, some sea salt. At this point you have 2 choices, you can either bake them or boil them for 10 minutes.
Roasting the tomatillos and the onions brings out the flavors and smokiness of the dish. Place everything on a baking tray & bake 15-20 mn at 500F until the vegetables are lightly charred. Carefully remove the charred top of the chiles by just pinching it (don’t burn your fingers!) Pour roasted tomatillos and their juice, onions, garlic, and pepper into the blender with 1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro, stems, and leaves + ¼ cup of vegetable broth. Pulse a few times until you get a nice consistency. You can leave some texture if you like.
Make tortilla chips:
There is nothing like homemade tortilla chips! Seriously! Once you make it, you will be keeping fresh corn tortillas in the fridge just for when you want a perfect bowl of warm chips. This dish needs thick and super crunchy chips. Most of the brands of corn chips tend to be too thin so they will soften too quickly and all are a bit too salty (not to mention all the additives!)
If you prefer low-fat chips, you can bake them for 2-3 minutes at 350F. You only need to brush them with some oil (2 tbsp) and sprinkle some salt, garlic powder, and other spices. Be careful because they can easily burn so keep an eye on them the whole time!
For a little more decadent and extra crispy, panfry the chips in some vegetable oil then drain on a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt and or spices. Cut each fresh corn tortillas cut in quarters before baking or frying.
Make dairy-free cotija cheese
If you have time and feel creative, you can make your own vegan cotija cheese. You only 1/2 block of extra-firm tofu, that has been drained and wrapped in a clean towel.
Mix white vinegar, onion powder, some fresh lime juice, and salt to age it and add it to the tofu that has been crumbled. Wrap the tofu cheese ball into some cheesecloth and refrigerate for an hour or more so that it firms up and releases its juices. Pour the liquid and crumble over the chilaquiles.
We love to serve this dish with a side of beans (black, whole, or refried, or black), some wedges of lime, avocado slices, and some pickled vegetables.
Green chilaquiles with dairy-free cotija cheese
- Baking sheet
- 8-10 medium tomatillos
- 1 white or yellow onion sliced
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro (stems and leaves)
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth
Homemade dairy-free cotija cheese
- 7 oz of firm organic tofu
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp white vinegar
- 1 tbsp lime juice
Panfried Tortilla chips
- 8-10 white or yellow soft corn tortillas cut in quarters
- 3-5 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1` tsp garlic powder
- 1 cup black beans
- 1/2 red onion finely diced
- 1 cup radish slices (optional)
Remove the husks and quickly wash the tomatillos to remove the stickiness.
- Cut the onion in quarters
- Place the tomatillos, onions, serrano pepper (if using), and garlic on a lined baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes at 400 F until the tops are charred.
- Removed the charred bits by pinching the top of the tomatillos without burning your fingers.
- Pour the roasted tomatillos, their juice, the onion, the green chilis, and the garlic in a blender.
- Add half a bunch of washed fresh cilantro (stems and leaves) and 1/2 cup of vegetable broth.
- Pulse a few times. Taste and season. Set aside.
Make the dairy-free cotija queso
- Cut a 14oz of firm organic tofu in half and wrap it in a clean towel to drain excess water.
- Mix 2 tbsp white vinegar, 1 tsp onion powder, 2 tbsp fresh lime juice and1 tsp sea salt.
- Crumble the tofu with your fingers and pout the liquid over it. Gently mix.
- Drape a cheesecloth in a bowl, spoon the tofu mixture in it and wrap it around it until you get a ball.
- Refrigerate for one or more hours until it firms up and the tofu has absorbed the flavors.
- Drain the liquid and crumble the queso! Set aside.
Make the tortilla chips
- Heat up a large frying pan with 2 tbsp avocado oil.
- Place tortilla quarters as an even layer without overlapping them and cook for a few minutes.
- Once the chips start to harden, flip them and cook 1-2 minutes more.
- Place them on a plate with paper towel to drain excess oil if any. Sprinkle with some salt.
Putting it together
- Heat up the tomatillo sauce if you prepared it earlier.
- Place the chips in a frying pan, pour some of the tomatillos sauce, sprinkle half of the red onions, and gently stir.
- Sprinkle a generous amount of the homemade dairy-free cotija cheese.
- Add a side of black beans and serve immediately!