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Sometimes you just need Mexican food. In the form of a bean and veggie tortilla casserole. Spicy, warm, and comforting.
I love Mexican food. It’s one of those things that happens when you move to Southern California. Prior to moving here, Mexican to me was Taco Bell or Don Pablo’s (which is, as I remember now, a not-very-good Mexican chain in the Northeast). I almost always ordered a quesadilla or enchiladas, which is kind of like the cheater “Mexican” food. “Give me a tortilla filled with greasy melted cheese and possibly covered with bland tomato sauce.” Yuck.
Here in LA, thanks to the large Mexican population, you can get authentic Mexican food on nearly every corner. Burritos are my go to, with (soft) tacos a close second. Flour tortillas are smooth and buttery, chewy, sometimes a tiny bit crisp. Tacos from a street truck are just two small corn tortillas topped with the meat of your choice, and cilantro and onions if you’d like. Outside the truck is a table of assorted condiments – spicy pickled carrots and jalapeños, green, red, and orange salsas pureed to a smooth consistency. And since I love condiments, you can guess I load up on all of them.
Not to mention this wonderful thing called POTATO tacos and burritos (notably from one of my favorite Santa Monica spots, Tacos Por Favor). Soft potatoes with lettuce, guacamole, rice, beans. This is a really big thing, considering potatoes are one of my favorite food items. I’ve never seen anything potato related at Taco Bell or a chain Mexican-American restaurant, have you?
I usually need to have some sort of Mexican food at least once a week. Usually it’s a burrito from my beloved Benito’s around the corner, but they’re not exactly the lightest thing to eat. So for those times when I shouldn’t splurge, at-home-Mexican it is.
Enter black bean and veggie tortilla casserole. This is a nice twist on enchiladas. I’m not really a fan of enchiladas anymore because I feel like the corn flavor of the tortillas deepens when they’re baked and ends up tasting weird. Here, in this casserole, the tortillas end up softening and practically melting into the rest of the ingredients. In a word, it’s awesome.
This recipe was inspired by Everyday Food, but has been pumped up with the addition of veggies and mushrooms.
bean and veggie tortilla casserole
makes 6 servings
- 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 ounces crimini or white mushrooms, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cans (15.5 ounces each), black beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) or 3 cans (10 ounces each) diced tomatoes with green chiles
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/2 cup frozen corn
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 10 corn tortillas
- 6 ounces shredded cheese (Monterey Jack, Mexican blend, or Mozzarella)
- Optional: reduced-fat or fat-free sour cream, sliced green onions, avocado, jalapenos for garnish
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
In a medium pot, heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and sliced mushrooms over medium heat, until softened, 3 – 4 minutes. Put the mushrooms in a bowl and toss with the frozen corn and peas. Return the pot to the heat.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pot, as well as the garlic. Heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the beans and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a simmer, about 5 minutes. Slightly mash some of the beans.
In a food processor or blender, puree the tomatoes (with juice) and cilantro. If you don’t have one of those, finely chop the cilantro and mix it with the tomatoes.
Lay 4 tortillas in the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish, overlapping a bit and slightly going up the sides of the dish. Spread 1/3 of the tomato mixture on top. Spoon 1/2 of the black beans in, then evenly distribute 1/2 of the veggies. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheese. Top with 3 tortillas and repeat the layering process. Finish it with the remaining 3 tortillas, last 1/3 of the tomato sauce, and last 1/3 of cheese.
Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Bake for another 20 minutes.
To serve, top with sour cream, green onions, avocado, or jalapeno slices.
Today it rained in Los Angeles.
To those who are unfamiliar, this sends most Angelenos into a panic, and transplants are impatient and exasperated. Commute times double and everyone’s status updates are related to the weather. You’d think since there are only 35 rainy days per year, they would be a little more well-received. But I guess that statement could explain why driving becomes so tedious.
It certainly isn’t the end of the world, but it does put you in the mood to throw on some sweats and cuddle up with a quick and comforting dinner. Enter Tex Mex Grilled Cheese!
These great little sandwiches are a spicy twist on the classic. Swap the olive oil and butter with their respective nonstick spray varieties to save some calories.
tex mex grilled cheese sandwiches
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup frozen julienned bell peppers
- 4 slices light whole wheat bread
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 slices deli American cheese
- 1 tablespoon pickled jalapeño, more or less to taste
- 2 teaspoons chopped green chilies
Heat oil over medium. Add chopped garlic and stir until fragrant. Add bell peppers and sauté until soft, breaking into bite-sized pieces along the way.
Meanwhile, heat a pan over medium. Butter one side of each piece of bread, using 1/2 tablespoon. Place two slices of bread in the pan, buttered-side down, topping with two slices of cheese each. (If you’re using butter-flavored nonstick spray, just spray the pan and spray again before you flip the sandwich over.)
When cheese begins to melt and bread is almost golden brown, evenly top each slice with sauteed peppers, jalapeño slices, and green chiles. Top with remaining slices of bread, buttered side up, and carefully flip the sandwiches over.
Cook until golden brown and serve! I like to partner them up with a can of light tomato soup, spiked with a little Mexican hot sauce, or the vegetarian tortilla soup seen here!
to anyone. You don't have to know a lot about cooking or be a foodie to prepare and enjoy nutritious homecooked meals! Read more...