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This Saucy Dinner (or Breakfast) Brought to You By Tortillas, Tomatoes & Cheese

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Just as enchiladas are tortillas covered in chile sauce, and enfrijoladas are tortillas covered in beans, here comes the third musketeer: entomatadas, tortillas covered in tomato sauce. And if you turn those tortillas into chips before you sog them, you'll be veering into the realm of chilaquiles.

But for now: entomatadas!

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How to Make Enchiladas without a Recipe

How to Make Enchiladas without a Recipe by Amanda Sims

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Simple Enfrijoladas

Simple Enfrijoladas by Amanda Sims

Like enchiladas that have shrugged off their heavy winter coats, entomatadas are a bit lighter, milder, and sweeter, well-suited to warming weather and earlier hours, to a glass of orange juice rather than a bottle of beer.

The first time I tried them was at El Diablo y la Sandia, a delightful bed and breakfast in Oaxaca City. One of those breakfasts consisted of two expertly-folded tortilla triangles plumped with stringy, partially melted cheese and submerged in a thin, creamy-red pool of tomato sauce.

Entomatadas (Cheese-Filled, Tomato Sauce-Smothered Tortillas)
Entomatadas (Cheese-Filled, Tomato Sauce-Smothered Tortillas)

The process of making entomatadas is not for fingers that fear mess (especially if you, like me, are not as expert as the women at that Oaxacan inn): Once you’ve heated the tortillas (you can char them over an open flame, warm them in the oven, or even fry them), you’ll dip each one into tomato sauce so that it's fully coated, then throw on some cheese (shredded Oaxaca cheese, which pulls into thin strands, or the totally untraditional mozzarella, provolone, or to-be-determined mild, melty cheese), and fold it over. Press down a bit to soften the cheese in the sauce's residual heat. There will be sauce on your countertops.

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(A note on folding: In Oaxaca, there are corn tortillas large enough to be folded over twice—these become the base of tlayudas; in New York, the only corn tortillas I have found can only be comfortably folded once.)

Transfer two or three tortilla pockets to every plate, then spoon more sauce over top, if you’d like, and get to the toppings: crumbled cotija (again, you might buck tradition and add goat cheese or feta or something else crumbly, tangy, and/or salty), sliced avocados, chopped sun-dried tomatoes (feel free to leave these off), and rips of cilantro.

Photo by Julia Gartland

You’ll find recipes for entomatadas made with fresh tomatoes or with tortillas that are rolled instead of folded; some get covered in a layer of cheese and baked. The version here is close to what I ate in Oaxaca, and I like skipping the baked cheese topping, as it leaves the tortillas soft and saucy all over, the tomato sauce un-muffled by too much cheese.

Since the sauce, adapted from Bon Appétit’s smoky tomato salsa, does include chipotles in adobo, perhaps it does qualify as chile-based. It is tomato-forward, though, and you could easily leave out the chipotles, using fresh jalapeño in its place or skipping them entirely (and, for a touch of added sweetness, try adding a couple tablespoons of molasses when you blend the sauce, as in BA's original recipe).

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Entomatadas (Cheese-Filled, Tomato Sauce-Smothered Tortillas)

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Serves 2 to 3

For the tomato sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 chipotle in adobo, chopped, plus 1 teaspoon of sauce from the jar
  • One 15-ounce can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • Salt and pepper

For the assembly:

  • 6 to 8 corn tortillas
  • 1/2 cup (approximately) Queso Oaxaca (or more!)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cups chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • Sour cream, for garnish
  • Queso fresco, crumbled, for garnish
  • Torn cilantro, for garnish
  • Sliced avocado, for garnish (optional)

And to use up the rest of the bag of tortillas, why not try...

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Not Exactly Grandma’s Migas by lastnightsdinner

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Vegan Enchilada Casserole by Gena Hamshaw

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Feta Quesadillas with Fresh Pico de Gallo and Avocado by Nicole Franzen

Red Chilaquiles with Fried Eggs

Red Chilaquiles with Fried Eggs by Kendra Vaculin

What's your favorite tortilla-based dish? Tell us in the comments below.