“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” — Aesop
Bare with me here. It may seem like a real leap to begin with a quote from an Ancient Greek fabulist and ultimately end with a recipe for a Mexican rolled tortilla dish, but this one will be worth it.
Better yet, the story involves monkey bars, a fortuitous CSA pick-up, and the kindness of strangers. And, as with so many things, timing happened to be everything. I don’t intend to waste a thing with this story or the meal!
You probably want me to get to the recipe sooner rather than later so I’ll keep the back story as simple as I can: it begins with a five-year-old plaintively asking for some playground time after being picked up at school. And why not. We’ve had a stretch of relatively warm weather for October. No reason to waste it rushing home, though we seem to be the only ones with such a brilliant idea because we have the playground to ourselves. Daughter 1 and I climb the ladders, slide down the slides, clamber up a rock wall and scale across a trellis for the better part of an hour before I suggest we call it a day. But wait, what’s this? Another car pulls up and out climbs another little girl…someone my daughter knows from kindergarten. How fortunate.
So now there are two little girls climbing, sliding, clambering and scaling, while two moms stand idly by. We learn that, although we’ve never run into one another before, we live no more than three (long) blocks apart. And we share a common interest in food…more specifically, working with fresh ingredients and encouraging our kids to eat a more healthy, balanced diet. They were just coming from a CSA pick-up at Stult’s Farm before stopping at the playground, and we started to trade meal ideas. Before I knew it, we were going home with several lovely ears of fresh corn and a zucchini. Not bad for an afternoon in the park!
That was the act of kindness: strangers meeting, talking, connecting and sharing. I appreciated that gesture more than I can say, and in return I’d like to share a little something too. We turned that corn and zucchini into enchiladas — another great vegetarian feast. Our simple recipe follows.
So the next time you go to the playground and return with corn and zucchini, you know who to thank. The greatest thanks, though, would be for you to just keep the kindness going. Share this post, or foist some produce onto an unsuspecting — but oh-so-grateful — playmate.
Cheese Enchiladas with Fresh Corn and Grated Zucchini
10 – 12 small flour or corn tortillas — corn is more traditional, but we used flour because that’s what I had on hand
2 10-ounce cans enchilada sauce — we used mild, but feel free to spice it up if you want
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar or mix of cheddar/Monterey jack cheese (reserve 1/4 cup for topping the finished casserole)
1 ear of fresh corn, corn kernels cut from the cob
1 medium zucchini, grated
Optional for serving: additional grated cheese, sour cream, minced cilantro, thinly sliced jalapeño pepper, hot sauce
Serve with hot white or brown rice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place the zucchini in a colander over a bowl and sprinkle with a generous pinch of Kosher salt. Work the salt into the zucchini and allow the zucchini to sit in the colander for 30 minutes to drain. When ready to use, pat zucchini with a clean cloth or paper towel to remove additional liquid and discard any liquid collected in the bowl.
Pour approximately 1/4 can of enchilada sauce into the bottom of a 3 quart Pyrex baking dish. Pour another 1/2 can of sauce into a wide shallow bowl. Begin to assemble enchiladas by coating both sides of a tortilla with the sauce in the bowl and then placing the tortilla on a flat work surface. Onto one end of each tortilla place roughly 1/8 cup grated cheese, 1/8 cup grated and drained zucchini and 1/8 cup corn kernels (I didn’t really measure these…they were more like generous pinches of cheese, zucchini and corn…just take care not to over-fill). Roll the enchilada to enclose the filling and place, seam side down, in the baking dish.
Repeat with remaining tortillas until all the filling us used up. Eye-ball ingredients along the way so you use equal amounts of filling in each enchilada and don’t have too much of anything left at the end.
Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas in the baking dish and top with the reserved 1/4 cup shredded cheese. Loosely cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 30 – 45 minutes, until all enchiladas are heated through and sauce is bubbly. Remove the foil, allow to bake for another 10 minutes to further melt the cheese, and then move to a cooling rack for 10 minutes before serving.
Serve enchiladas with rice and any of the optional toppings.
Serves: 4 – 6
Parent rating: four stars. Great use of late summer produce and, despite the rolling and baking, really quite easy to make. We probably would have spiced this up with hot enchilada sauce and some jalapeños but didn’t go that route to keep it kid-friendly.
Kid rating: three stars. Daughter 2 ate her dish happily until Daughter 1 complained about there being “too much zucchini,” at which point neither of them ate much more of the enchiladas. The rice, sour cream and cheese, on the other hand, all got gobbled up. In retrospect, I probably could have made several with just corn and that would have gone over quite well. All in all, the kindness of strangers paid off!