Lazy Chopped Vegan Enchiladas in a Skillet

Created by Laura Wright
5 from 6 votes

These chopped vegan enchiladas in a skillet make a hearty dinner with minimal dishes! Loaded with veggies and plant-based protein from lentils, finely chopped walnuts, and a sunflower seed "cheese" topping that browns beautifully under the broiler.

An overhead shot of lazy chopped vegan enchiladas in a skillet. A sunflower "cheese" topping blankets the top and is browned in spots. The skillet is garnished with sliced avocado and chopped cilantro.

Ready in 1 hour, these lazy chopped vegan enchiladas in a skillet are a hearty vegan dinner with minimal dishes. We make them with simple ingredients, like red bell pepper, zucchini, cooked lentils, walnuts, garlic, spices, tortillas, and store-bought red enchilada sauce for extra ease! Filled with fresh and spicy flavours, plenty of vegetables, protein-packed lentils and walnuts, plus a creamy sunflower seed “cheese” topping, this deconstructed enchilada supper gives a modern casserole kinda vibe that’s fun for a weeknight dinner.

A 3/4 angle shot of lazy chopped vegan enchiladas in a skillet. A sunflower "cheese" topping blankets the top and is browned in spots. The skillet is garnished with sliced avocado and chopped cilantro.
An overhead shot shows ingredients used in a vegan chopped enchilada skillet.
An up close, overhead shot shows a sunflower seed-based "cheese" topping that has been just mixed up in a blender container.

I enjoy traditional rolled up enchiladas so much. They are one of our favourite comfort foods! In my ongoing quest to unroll, unstuff, or de-layer some of my favourite dishes, I started working on this enchilada-inspired dish that requires no rolling or extended assembly! You chop everything up, simmer in a skillet, and give it a little broil at the end. Sometimes I’m feeling a bit lazy at dinner time, and this recipe suits me just right.

The inspiration for this recipe:

  • Enchiladas are traditionally a Mexican dish of corn tortillas rolled around a filling and dipped in a spicy chili-based paste. This concept dates back to the Aztecs, with fillings ranging from beans and squash to fish and eggs. 
  • The dish shifted and changed after Mexico was colonized by Spain in 1521, leaning further towards the use of meat and cheese. Concentrated chili pastes were swapped with sauce mixtures featuring chilis.
  • Dishes inspired by enchiladas began showing up in American cookbooks as early as 1876. Interpretations of the dish became popular in the early 20th century, congruent with the rise of Tex-Mex cuisine.
  • Food historians describe the commonly known rendition of enchiladas today as a dish that has been appropriated and changed throughout history. You can read more here, or also watch this video.
  • All of this is to say: this recipe is not authentic, and even using the term “authentic” feels strange here. The chili-based sauce and “cheese”-like topping are certainly nods to the Spanish and American appropriations of enchiladas. The chopped and deconstructed nature of my recipe is not traditional to any culture or historical enchilada cooking method.

Some tips for making this skillet:

  • Really important! Most store bought enchilada sauce is on the salty side. This is why I recommend no sodium canned lentils and low sodium vegetable stock for this recipe. Exercise caution when seasoning both the “cheese” topping and the skillet itself.
  • To make this dish truly lazy, I use store bought red enchilada sauce. There are tons of recipes online if you prefer making your own.
  • My favourite store bought red enchilada sauces: Frontera (although I read recently that they changed the formula?), Trader Joe’s, and in Canada I like the President’s Choice branded one.
  • You can mix up the vegetables based on what you have. Leftover roasted sweet/regular potatoes are great here, as are mushrooms and corn. Just as long as you end up with about 4 cups chopped veggies total.
  • To make this even lazier, skip the sunflower “cheese” topping and just swap in your favourite vegan shredded cheese to sprinkle on top.

For more chopped up and disassembled versions of classic comfort foods, check out my vegan chopped cabbage roll skillet, skillet lasagna, and my vegan stuffed pepper casserole.

A spoon is applying a sunflower seed based "cheese" topping to a vegan enchilada skillet that features lentils and vegetables as the "filling."
An overhead shot of lazy chopped vegan enchiladas in a skillet. A sunflower "cheese" topping blankets the top and is browned in spots. You can see the red enchilada sauce and lentil filling poking out in spots.
An overhead shot of lazy chopped vegan enchiladas in a skillet. A sunflower "cheese" topping blankets the top and is browned in spots. The skillet is garnished with sliced avocado and chopped cilantro.
A single serving of chopped vegan enchilada skillet. The serving is in a wide ceramic bowl and topped with avocado slices and chopped cilantro.

Lazy Chopped Vegan Enchiladas in a Skillet

Ready in 1 hour, these lazy chopped vegan enchiladas in a skillet are a hearty vegan dinner with minimal dishes–no rolling! Made with fresh veggies, lentils, walnuts, spices, tortillas, store-bought red enchilada sauce for extra ease, and a creamy sunflower seed "cheese" topping that browns under the broiler.
5 from 6 votes
An overhead shot of lazy chopped vegan enchiladas in a skillet. A sunflower "cheese" topping blankets the top and is browned in spots. The skillet is garnished with sliced avocado and chopped cilantro.
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings 4 -6

Ingredients

Sunflower “Cheese” Topping:

  • ½ cup raw sunflower seeds, soaked for at least 2 hours and drained
  • 5 tablespoons water
  • 5 tablespoons red enchilada sauce
  • 1 ½ tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Chopped Enchilada Skillet:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small sweet onion, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder (I used ancho)
  • ½ cup walnut halves, finely chopped
  • 1 19oz can (540 ml) lentils or black beans (no salt added preferred)
  • 1 ½ cups red enchilada sauce
  • 1 cup low sodium vegetable stock, plus extra
  • 6 small tortillas, chopped into 2-inch pieces (3 cups chopped pieces total)
  • chopped cilantro, for serving
  • diced, ripe avocado, for serving

Equipment

Notes

  • Really important! Most store bought enchilada sauce is on the salty side. This is why I recommend no sodium canned lentils and vegetable stock for this recipe. Exercise caution when seasoning both the “cheese” topping and the skillet itself.
  • Choose an enchilada sauce that you enjoy the flavour of on its own. My favourite store bought red enchilada sauces: Frontera (although I read recently that they changed the formula?), Trader Joe’s, and in Canada I like the President’s Choice branded one.
  • There are tons of recipes online if you prefer making your own enchilada sauce.
  • For both components of the recipe, you will need 14.5 ounces (428 ml) red enchilada sauce total.
  • You can mix up the vegetables based on what you have. Leftover roasted sweet potatoes and regular potatoes are great here, as are mushrooms and corn! Just as long as you end up with about 4 cups chopped veggies total.
  • To make this even lazier, skip the sunflower “cheese” topping and just swap in your favourite vegan shredded cheese to sprinkle on top. 

Instructions

  • Make the sunflower “cheese” topping. In an upright, high speed blender, combine the drained sunflower seeds, water, red enchilada sauce, nutritional yeast, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper. Blend the sauce until completely smooth and silky. Check the sauce for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Set aside.
  • Heat a large, oven-safe skillet (I used an 11-inch braiser) over medium heat. Once it’s hot, pour in the olive oil and swirl it around. Add the onions, bell pepper, and zucchini to the skillet and stir. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté until vegetables are tender and browning in spots, about 8-10 minutes.
  • To the skillet, add the garlic, paprika, onion powder, cumin, coriander, and chili powder. Keep sautéeing until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Add the chopped walnuts and lentils to the skillet and stir to coat in the seasoning. Add the enchilada sauce and vegetable stock to the skillet and stir to combine. Bring the sauce and "filling" to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer the skillet, covered, until the walnut pieces are tender and the mixture is saucy but still slightly thick overall, about 20-25 minutes. I pop in to stir it up a few times.
  • Once the walnuts are soft, stir in the chopped tortillas. There should be enough sauce/broth mixture to keep things saucy. If not, pour in a few extra splashes of vegetable stock. Remove the skillet from the heat.
  • Preheat the oven to broil.
  • Using a spatula, level out the surface of the enchilada skillet. Dollop the sunflower “cheese” topping over the surface and spread it out a bit with the back of your spoon. Place the skillet under the broiler and cook until the “cheese” topping is bubbling and starting to darken in spots, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Remove the skillet from the oven and garnish with chopped cilantro and avocado. Serve warm!
30/08/2023
Posted in: autumn, gluten free, gluten free option, lentils, main course, refined sugar-free, salty, sauce, spicy, spring, summer, umami, vegan, winter

15 comments

Recipe Rating




  • Shannon

    Can I substitute cashew for sunflower seeds since that’s what I have on hand?

    • Laura Wright

      Hi Shannon,
      Yes that will work fine!
      -L

  • Amelia Martin

    I love all your recipes!
    Am I missing where the tortillas go into the recipe? Do you add them on top of the veg and cover with the cheese sauce?

    • Laura Wright

      Hi Amelia!,
      The chopped tortillas go in at step 5!
      -L

  • Sue

    5 stars
    Laura, this was delicious and easy! We all loved it. I made Angela’s enchilada sauce from her oh she glows blog. Th amount and flavors were perfect for your recipe. Also Loved the sunflower cheese sauce, wonderful change from my usual cashew based cheesey recipes I gravitate towards. Thanks Laura.

  • Allie

    5 stars
    This was so easy and delicious and a great use for the grain-free tortillas I buy which tend to go stale before I can use them up. I used Hatch Organic enchilada sauce (from WF), cooked and cooled black lentils, and Siete Cassava flour tortillas. I only broiled the portion I was eating with the sunflower cheese. To reheat, I did it in a pan and just slathered some on top. It was delicious just the same.

  • SpiceyChef Stratford

    5 stars
    I’m intrigued by these lazy chopped vegan enchiladas in a skillet! Can’t wait to try this hearty vegan dinner recipe loaded with fresh veggies and bold flavours. Thanks for sharing, Laura!

  • Kim H

    The concept is great, but I regret using a store bought enchilada sauce. It ruined the whole dish. I used Siete red enchilada sauce, which turned out to be a little too sour and just not that good. I tried to save the dish by remaking the cheese sauce (used the one from the stuffed pepper casserole) and that is helping mask the flavor, but I really don’t want to serve this to my family. What a bummer.

    Bottom line – use an enchilada sauce you love (even if you have to make it).

    • Laura Wright

      Hi Kim,
      I’m so sorry that this happened (and that you’ve had a couple duds from the site lately). I’ve updated the blog post and recipe card with my preferred store bought enchilada sauce options. You are right in that the recipe does rest on the quality of the sauce.
      -L

      • Kim H

        Thanks for posting your enchilada sauce recommendation. And I am SUPER PUMPED for your forthcoming stuffing recipe!

  • Elizabeth

    Wow, I can’t wait to try this! I love the idea of enchilada flavors/ingredients with a simpler preparation. I’m also loving the two recipes per week! Thank you for sharing.

  • Gerry

    Wow, this was incredibly flavourful and easy to make. I didn’t have any lentils on hand but had some cooked pinto beans, they worked perfectly well with this recipe. Definitely a keeper, thanks for sharing.

    • Laura Wright

      Gerry,
      Using pinto beans in this sounds spectacular! So glad that you enjoyed it.
      -L

  • SUE

    I’m very excited to try this; it sounds delicious! Thanks

    • Laura Wright

      I hope you enjoy it, Sue!
      -L