When moving out East, I knew there were certain aspects of Colorado I would miss such as always knowing what direction I was heading by looking for the mountains, having sunny ski days, and people watching on Pearl Street in Boulder. But I never thought about missing Mexican food. Yes, there are plenty of burrito and taco places in Boston, but after eight years of living there I never found a Mexican restaurant that could compete with ones out West. However, after a few trials and error, I finally came up with an enchilada sauce that satisfied my Mexican food cravings. Now being back in Denver, I still find this recipe as a go-to as it’s simple to make and very budget friendly.
Note: this post was originally published March 21, 2016. The pictures and some of the text have been updated on February 28, 2018. The recipe has remained the same.
Before I delve into the recipe I want to state upfront that this dish as a whole is FAR from being authentic and falls more in the “I need a quick, healthy dinner to use up what I have in the fridge and pantry” category. However, the sauce seriously brings me back to eating a piping hot plate of chicken enchiladas.
While the sauce does call for 8 ingredients, chances are you have most if not all of them already in your pantry: chicken broth (if your vegetarian sub in vegetable broth), chili powder, cumin, salt, olive oil, white whole wheat flour (you could also use regular all-purpose flour here), garlic, and tomato paste. So simple!
This casserole has been my go-to since college as it is both budget-friendly and works well with frozen and leftover veggies. I prefer to make this recipe vegetarian, but it would also work with ground turkey or shredded chicken/pork.
If you’ve made lasagna before, think of this casserole as a Mexican lasagna. Start by placing 2 ½ corn tortillas in a prepared pan (it’s okay to have some gaps). Top with a layer of the bean mixture. Sprinkle over a handful of spinach and cheese. Drizzle sauce to cover. Next, place two and half corn tortillas over the first layer, followed by the rest of the bean mixture and rest of the spinach. Sprinkle a layer of cheese and drizzle sauce. Finally, place the last two and a half corn tortillas on top of the second layer and spread the rest of the sauce to cover. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, let it cool down a bit, then dig in!
Now, just to perfect a margarita recipe and I’ll be all set 😉 So here’s to cooking restaurant favorites at home that are healthier but just as flavorful!
Veggie Enchilada Casserole with Homemade Enchilada SaucePrint Recipe
- Homemade Enchilada Sauce:
- 2 cups organic chicken broth
- 2 T chili powder
- 2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 T white whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp cumin
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 4 to 5 ounces of canned tomato paste
- Pinch of salt to taste
- For the Casserole:
- 1 batch of homemade Enchilada Sauce (or 2 cups of canned sauce)
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1 can corn
- 2 cans beans (I used a mix of black and white northern beans)
- ½ bag of baby spinach
- 2 cups of shredded cheese (I used a 3-cheese blend of cheddar, mozzarella, and Monterey jack)
- 9 corn tortillas
To make the sauce:
Add oil, flour, garlic, and chili powder in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until mixture bubbles.
Stir in broth, tomato paste, and cumin. Add in salt to taste (you may not need to add any depending on how much salt is in your chicken broth). Bring to a simmer for 1-2 minutes.
To assemble casserole:
Preheat oven to 375 and spray a 9 x 13 pan with non-stick spray.
Combine beans and corn in colander and rinse with cold water. Place in mixing bowl and add diced pepper and minced garlic.
Place two and a half tortillas in the prepared pan. Top with a layer of the bean mixture. Sprinkle over a handful of spinach and cheese. Drizzle sauce to cover. Next, place two and half corn tortillas over the first layer, followed by the rest of the bean mixture and rest of the spinach. Sprinkle a layer of cheese and drizzle sauce. Finally, place the last two and a half corn tortillas on top of the second layer and spread the rest of the sauce to cover. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Bake for 30 minutes (if your cheese starts browning too much, cover pan with foil while baking). Allow casserole to cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Nutrition per serving: 450 calories, 21 g fat, 54 g carbohydrate, 13 g fiber, 21 g protein