Thank you Lisa for inviting me to share another guest post with your readers! We’re currently in the middle of the October Unprocessed challenge, and this is a perfect “unprocessed” recipe to make for your family – or for yourself, with plenty of leftovers!
I may not yet have kids of my own (I added that “yet” in there to give my mom hope), but I sure do know how to feed a crowd. Every year I throw a big New Year’s party in which we do a lot of cooking and eating together… oftentimes we’re making dinner for about 30 people.
So we’ve learned how to feed a hungry group quickly and efficiently. A few years back, my friend Dan made “Enchilada Casserole” for the crew, and it immediately became a part of our holiday dinner rotation. It’s easy to prepare, and barely any extra work to double or triple the recipe. You can also prepare the casserole in advance and just throw it in the oven an hour before dinnertime.
It’s easily adaptable to special diets, too. Already vegetarian (adding meat is so not necessary — it’s hearty enough!), we usually make one “regular” version and one vegan version (just skip the cheese), and most people have trouble deciding which they like more. If you use corn tortillas, it can be gluten-free, too. A couple of years ago, I started using 100% whole wheat tortillas instead of white flour tortillas, and people didn’t even notice.
It helps to think of this dish as sort of a “Mexican Lasagna.” You’re basically layering the bean mixture, tortillas, veggies, and cheese the same way you’d build a lasagna. As you layer things together, tear the tortillas in halves or quarters as necessary to create a single layer. I usually start with one whole tortilla in the middle, and then tear another in half to create flat edges, which go on the outside of the pan. I may tear a third one in quarters and use that to fill in the gaps. It’s good if they overlap a little. Like so:
I’m splitting the ingredients list into two parts — the first are the “mandatory” ingredients (though I suppose you could omit the onion). The second are recommended additions — feel free to adjust, change, or add as you see fit. When assembling the dish, it helps to think of it as “Mexican lasagna,” since the tortillas are layered just like lasagna noodles.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cups enchilada sauce (or one large can)*
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups of
- Lisa’s slow cooker refried beans (or 1 can low-sodium refried beans)
- 10-12 homemade corn or whole wheat
*Using canned enchilada sauce speeds things up, but the sodium content is usually frustratingly high and it may have preservatives or other unwanted additives. Instead, you can use canned tomato puree or chunks (or fresh, diced tomatoes, simmered for a few minutes) with cumin, chili powder, oregano, garlic/garlic powder and any other spices as you see fit. It should be thin; the tortillas will absorb that extra moisture.
- 1 small can of diced green chiles
- 3 to 5 cloves crushed garlic
- ½ to 2 large diced jalapeños (check for spiciness, jalapeños vary considerably)
- 1 cup quartered mushrooms
- Bunch of fresh spinach (frozen or canned works, too)
- 1 cup corn
- 1 cup potatoes, sliced into ¼″ rounds and then parboiled for 3-5 minutes
- 1 cup shredded cheese
- 1 avocado, sliced
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Saute the diced onion for 3-4 minutes until it starts to soften.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and add the enchilada sauce, black beans, and refried beans to the saucepan. Stir slowly until mixed thoroughly.
- Add any “extra goodies” to the sauce (except cheese or avocado) and continue heating and stirring until it starts to simmer. Be sure to stir continuously, else it may start to splatter as it comes to a boil.
- Once everything is mixed well, turn off the heat and begin layering the casserole in a lightly greased 9×13 baking pan. Start by adding a thin layer of the sauce to the bottom (if you start with tortillas first, they may burn). Next add a layer of tortillas (see diagram above). Then alternate sauce and tortillas until there’s about ¼″ of space left (or you run out of sauce or tortillas!), ending with a layer of sauce on top. Be sure all the tortillas are covered by sauce; any tortilla that’s not covered will dry out.
- Sprinkle the cheese on top and cover with aluminum foil. “Tent” the foil so it’s not resting on the cheese (this makes it easier to remove later).
- Bake at 350°F for 40 minutes. (If doubling the recipe or using a deeper pan, you may want to bake a little longer.) Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes, until cheese begins to brown. Allow to cool for at least ten minutes then serve with a few slices of avocado on top.
Andrew Wilder is a self-proclaimed “Healthy Foodie,” and he writes about the confluence of healthy and delicious on his blog, Eating Rules. He also leads the October Unprocessed challenge each year, trying to get as many people as possible to eat no processed food whatsoever for the entire month. 6,000 people have taken the pledge so far, and it’s not too late for you to join in, too! You can also find Andrew on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.