Enfrijoladas with avocado and tomatillo salsa

Enfrijoladas are on the menu at La Cascada restaurant in La Cruz. This elegant, yet simple dish is nothing more than tortillas covered with bean sauce . “Bean sauce?”, you might ask. Yes, bean sauce. Beans, thinned to a sauce-like consistency and coating the tortillas, with some avocado, queso fresco and crema on top. That’s all it is, and boy, is it good. You can top it with a salsa verde if you want, but it is also good without a salsa if you want something simple to prepare.

Like much of my cooking, this is a cobbled together recipe. An avocado and tomatillo salsa recipe from Epicurious. Part of an enfriolada recipe from my new cookbook by Diana Kennedy, Oaxaca al Gusto. And another part of an enfrijolada recipe from Bon Appetit that I made a number of years ago when we were replacing our roof.  Back then, we had a simple, traditional Mexican roof that was nothing more than tiles stacked across wooden beams. That day, the day I made enfrijoladas, all the tiles had been removed and the entire house was exposed to the shining sun, with the clouds and the birds overhead. I could look up and see the swaying bamboo outside the kitchen door. But I wasn’t seeing it out the door. I was looking at the rustling bamboo through the gaping hole where our tile roof used to be.

After such a unusual day of seeing the roof removed, the workers finally left, and I was faced with making dinner in my disordered, discombobulated kitchen. (See photo here of my exposed kitchen.) We could have gone out to eat. Or I could have made something easy like sandwiches or omelets. Instead, I found a favorite 2003 Bon Appetit magazine, one of their “Special Collector Editions” with Soul of Mexico on the cover. I had already read every recipe six or eight times and was especially intrigued by the one for enfrijoladas, because I, too, said, “Bean sauce?” Here is my version, inspired by Bon Appetit and Diana Kennedy.

Enfrijoladas with Avocado and Tomatillo Salsa serves 4


  • 2 cups (8 oz./250 g.)tomatillos (also known as tomate verde), husked, washed and coarsely chopped
  • 2 medium serrano chiles with seeds, minced
  • 1 medium white onion, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium avocados, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons (50 ml.) freshly squeezed lime juice
  • salt
  • Process tomatillos and serranos in food processor until coarse puree forms.
  • Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat  and add onion, cooking until translucent.
  • Add garlic and cook 30 seconds more.
  • Add tomatillo puree to onion mixture, and cook 3 minutes, stirring.
  • Spoon salsa into a bowl and stir in avocado and cilantro.
  • Salt to taste.


  • 2  tablespoons olive oil (or lard if you really want to be authentic)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 serrano chiles, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups (28 oz./800 g.) cooked beans
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon ground comino (cumin)
  • water as needed
  • 1 dozen heated corn tortillas
  • Sliced avocado and chopped cilantro for garnish
  • Crema (sour cream or crème fraiche)
  • Heat skillet over medium-low hat and add oil to pan.
  • Saute onion and serrano chile until onion is translucent.
  • Add garlic and cook 30 seconds longer, stirring.
  • Add cooked beans, oregano, comino, and enough water to make it soupy.
  • Simmer 10  minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Mash to a puree with a bean masher (potato masher) or in a food processor, adding more water to make it very soupy.
  • Salt to taste.
  • Dip hot tortillas in bean sauce, coating both sides generously with bean puree and roll up or fold into quarters or halves.
  • Spoon bean puree on each plate and place folded tortillas on puree, spooning more puree on top of tortillas.
  • Garnish with avocado slices, grated cheese and chopped cilantro.
  • Serve avocado and tomatillo salsa and crema on the side.


I used flor de mayo beans for this recipe, because I can buy organic flor de mayo at Mega (gracias a dios!). In Oaxaca, black beans are used to make enfrijoladas. Pinto beans would make a fine substitute.

Remove seeds or not from the serrano chiles, depending on your own level of heat tolerance. I found that removing half the seeds was just right for our taste.

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Cooking in an Open Air Kitchen

This photo takes the meaning of cooking in an open air kitchen to a new level. It was taken when we were putting a new roof on our house, either in ’03 or ’04.

Construction in Mexico can be simple — brick walls, roof of tiles — and we have a simple house. We had removed all the roof tiles to have a “real” roof put on. You can see the blue sky overhead and the green of bamboo outside the kitchen. I see I had on a hat and sunglasses. And I see a level, wrench and bucket in the foreground.

I still remember what I made for dinner — Pinto Bean Enfrijoladas from the May 2003 Bon Appetit issue. I topped it with Avocado and Tomatillo Salsa. I have a notation in the magazine that I cooked black beans with two toasted avocado leaves instead of using the canned pinto beans called for in the recipe.

We were so hungry and it was so good. I’ll have to make it again in homage to our new roof.

Open air kitchen