Enchiladas with Cilantro Cashew Crema and Fennel Orange Salsa


Enchiladas are always a crowd-pleaser, but can often leave you feeling heavy from all of the meat, cheese, and sauce. These enchiladas use a delightful, cashew ‘crema’ instead of cheese and a combination of beef, beans, and veggies to lighten it up. I like to use toasted cashews for the crema because they add a deeper, nuttier flavor. No need to soak them if you have a high-speed blender! It all gets topped with a bright, crunchy, fennel orange salsa (because we gotta have that tangy crunch!).

Since we’re making the cashew crema and salsa, we’re using store-bought enchilada sauce, but feel free to make your own!

Ingredient highlight

Cashews! These versatile nuts originate from Brazil and have become popular for using to replace dairy because of it’s super creamy texture when blended. Similar to other nuts, cashews are rich in healthy fats, fiber, minerals, and protein. They are especially high in copper, a mineral important for bone health, the immune system, nervous system, and cardiovascular system. They’ll also give you a good dose of fiber, zinc, and magnesium.

Servings 4 People
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes


  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil, divided
  • ½ lb grass-fed ground beef (I use 80/20)
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tsp kosher salt, divided
  • 3 cups finely chopped veggies (cabbage, bell pepper, broccoli, mushrooms, zucchini, corn)*
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 chipotle in adobo, chopped (optional or use ½ tsp red pepper flakes)
  • 1 (15.5 oz) jar of enchilada sauce (about 2 cups)
  • 8 whole wheat tortillas (about 8-inches diameter)
  • Cilantro, for topping

For the cashew crema**:

  • 1 cup roasted cashews
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup cilantro (leaves and stems work!)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ¾ – 1 cup warm water

For the salsa:

  • 1 fennel bulb, halved lengthwise, cored, cut into small pieces (about ¾ cup)
  • 1 orange, peeled and chopped into small pieces (about ¾ cup)
  • 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced or chopped (optional)
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • * Use your blender to finely chop your veggies. Works like a charm!
  • ** Skip the crema and use 6 oz goat cheese instead. Mix about ⅓ into the filling and top with the remaining cheese, then bake!


  • Preheat the oven to 325F. Wrap tortillas in tinfoil. Bake tortillas for about 10 minutes to warm them up and make them more pliable. Remove them right before assembly and increase the heat to 425F.
  • In a high-speed blender, add the cashews, olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, salt and ¾ cup warm water. Blend until smooth. If too thick or not blending easily, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until smooth. You want the texture to be thick and it will also thicken in the fridge! Place in the fridge. This is best made ahead, as the texture is best when cold.
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, warm 1 teaspoon olive oil. Add the beef and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, breaking up into chunks, until cooked through, about 5 minutes. If there is a lot of excess fat in the pan, discard it. Stir in 1 ½ teaspoons of spice mixture. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  • Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, onion, carrots, and ½ teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add in your veggies and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook stirring occasionally, until veggies are cooked through, about 3-5 minutes.
  • Add the cooked beef, beans, remaining spice mixture, chipotle in adobo or red pepper flakes (if using), and ¾ teaspoon salt and cook, mixing everything together, for about 30 seconds. Remove from heat. Stir in ⅓ cup of the cashew crema.
  • In a 9×13-inch baking dish, add ½ cup of enchilada sauce and spread it to coat the bottom. Fill each tortilla with ½ cup of filling and roll it up tightly. Place seam-side-down into the baking dish and repeat. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce down the center of the tortillas. Bake for 20 minutes or until the tortillas start to get crispy. You can hit it under the broiler to speed the process along or get it extra crispy..
  • While the enchiladas bake, make your salsa by mixing all ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Serve drizzled all over with the cashew crema and topped with salsa and cilantro.

Items you can prep ahead (optional)

  • Prep veggies
  • Cook enchilada filling
  • Make cashew crema
  • Make fennel orange salsa


  • To make vegetarian/vegan: substitute another can of black beans for the beef. 
  • To make gluten-free: use gluten-free tortillas OR turn it into a rice bowl and skip the tortillas
  • If you don’t want to make the cashew crema, just substitute with goat cheese (see note in recipe)
  • For nut allergies, substitute 1 large or 2 small avocados for the cashews. You may need to add more liquid depending on the size of the avocado.
  • Use any combination of veggies here and just use your blender to finely chop.
  • Substitute any crunchy veggie (cucumber, radish) for the fennel and any fruit (tomato, peach, mango) for the orange.
  • Turn it into a casserole! Layer the filling with tortillas and sauce and bake in a 8×8 or 9×9-inch baking dish. 
  • Make it a bowl by skipping the tortillas and serving the filling with rice.


  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge
    • Enchiladas: up to 4 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer
    • Cashew crema: up to 5 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer
    • Salsa: up to 5 days in the fridge

Leftovers + Repurposing:

  • Leftover enchiladas are always a bit soggy. To crisp them up, cover with foil and bake at 350 for 15 minutes, then broil for a minute or two to get crispy.
  • Top leftover enchiladas with crema, salsa and cilantro

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