Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Casserole Week: Mexican Tortilla Casserole

I got this recipe from Lynn Rossetto Casper's enewsletter called Weeknight Kitchen, but it comes from a sexist cookbook called the Mom 100.  Although this blog does not endorse knee-jerk sexism in book titles, the recipe is nice because it concludes with a note about how kids (It's a wonder it doesn't say "girls") can help with this recipe.  Weeknight Kitchen is a reliable source for pantry recipes that can, indeed, be cooked after work on a weeknight.

According to my personal recipe database, I have apparently cooked this once a year in April for the past three years.  It's a good and easy recipe. It even features make-ahead instructions, which is always nice to have as an option.

Mexican Tortilla Casserole
From The Mom 100 Cookbook: 100 Recipes Every Mom Needs in Her Back Pocket by Katie Workman (Workman Publishing, 2012).
Serves 4 to 6
Essentially a lasagna with tortillas standing in for noodles, this is one of those dishes that can miraculously be on the table in short order, made from things you most likely have in your pantry and fridge. If you don't like, or you don't have, one of the ingredients, skip it. Or, if you have something else that you think might be appealing all layered in (like slivered bell peppers to sauté with the onions, kale, chopped, cooked broccoli -- whatever the people in your home will eat), then fling it on in.
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon olive, vegetable, or canola oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 can (14 ounces) chopped tomatoes, drained, with 1/3 cup juice reserved
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 cans (15.5 ounces each) white, black, or kidney beans (or a mixture of any two), rinsed and drained
  • Kosher or coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 can (15 ounces) sweet corn kernels, drained, or 1-1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
  • 3 cups coarsely chopped spinach
  • 4 medium-size (8-inch) flour tortillas
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese
  • Chopped fresh cilantro (optional), for garnish
  • Sour cream (optional), for serving
  • Salsa (optional), for serving
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan, springform pan, or baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, cumin, chili powder, and garlic and cook until you can smell the spices and the onion is softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes with the 1/3 cup of reserved juice and the tomato paste, then stir in the beans. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let the bean mixture simmer until everything is hot, about 3 minutes. Add the corn and spinach and stir until the spinach has wilted and everything is well blended and hot, about 3 minutes. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt and/or pepper as necessary.
3. Place 1 tortilla in the prepared cake pan. Spread one fourth of the bean and vegetable mixture evenly over the tortilla, then sprinkle 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese evenly over the top. Repeat with 3 more layers, ending with the last quarter of the bean mixture and then the last 1/2 cup of shredded cheese.
4. Bake the tortilla casserole until it is hot throughout and the top is lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Let the casserole sit for about 5 minutes, then cut it into wedges using a sharp knife and serve it with a spatula or better yet a pie server. Sprinkle the top with cilantro, if desired, and serve with sour cream and/or salsa on the side, if you like.
Cooking Tip: You can make the tortilla casserole a day ahead of time, cover it with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and put it in the fridge overnight; just take it out and let it sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes while the oven preheats to 400°F. Bake the casserole uncovered. You can also reheat the cooked casserole at 350°F for 15 to 20 minutes, until warm.
What the Kids Can Do: They can layer the tortillas, bean mixture, and cheese. Encourage them to distribute the filling evenly across each tortilla and portion everything equally over all four layers.

Masthead image from Flickr - user: JillPyrex, photo: small pyrex casserole.  Used under Creative Commons license 

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