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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.
It’s hard to find words to describe this recipe. It’s THAT good. This combines three of my favorite things that are green into a flavorful, creamy dish. Don’t leave me alone with this dish. Please. It’s not healthy to eat 4 servings as one giant serving for just yourself…Wait, what? You say we suddenly live in a world without calories and weight gain? I gotta go–I need to get to the market and buy more asparagus and sage.
penne with asparagus, sage, and peas
- 1/2 pound penne
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 pound thick asparagus, cut into 1-inch lengths
- 2 cups Swanson vegetable stock (Swanson’s is best, trust me! Worth it.)
- 2 cups (10 ounces) shelled English peas or frozen baby peas, thawed
- 1/4 cup fat-free half and half
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage (gotta be fresh here)
- 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
- Salt and black pepper
Cook the pasta until al dente.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium. Add the garlic and asparagus and cook over low heat until the garlic is fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the vegetable stock and boil over high heat until the liquid is reduced by half and the asparagus is tender, 5-8 minutes.
Add the peas and cream to the pan and boil over high heat until thickened, about 3 minutes. Add the penne and toss until coated and heated. Remove from heat and add the butter, sage, and half the cheese, stirring until melted. Season with salt and pepper. Plate up and sprinkle more cheese on top, if you’d like.
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