Enchilada Casserole

We have a bit of a bad habit here at the Walbacz house. And that habit is pushing delicious tortillas to the back of the fridge.

See, we like decent tortillas. We’re not quite cool enough yet to make our own, but we do like the fairly fresh ones that are already refrigerated when you buy them. (I’m Team Corn Tortilla, for what it’s worth. Fight me.) We bring them home, we get excited and make tacos for a few days, and then we push the tortillas farther and farther back into the drawer over the course of the week until they’re nearly invisible…

…until we want tacos again. Sometimes, this means we find green tortillas, and I’m not talking eco-friendly here.

Thankfully, this time around, only two tortillas needed to be sacrificed to the almighty compost pile, but what to do with a pile of tortillas on their last legs, a plethora of produce, and extra salsa we made from our tomatillos? And during my busiest week since the school year started?

Enter the magnificent Enchilada Casserole. Isn’t she a beaut?

I love enchiladas – it’s my go-to order from a Mexican restaurant. If I have the time and energy at home, I’ll dedicate an evening to reproducing their deliciousness at home. (I’ll tell you how in another post!) But I don’t always have those things – time and energy – and I know you don’t, either. Enchilada casserole is a way to get the tastiness of enchiladas in a hot mess of goodness without the frying, filling, and folding. And, like many of the recipes on this site, you can simply use whatever you have on hand – veggies, proteins, cheese, sauce, etc. I’ll give you the basics, including a few options for saucing, and you can have at it as you wish.

Ready? Let’s do it!

Enchilada Casserole

You can customize this as needed with what you have on hand, so don’t be afraid to experiment! You can replace the beans with another protein of choice, or mix and match with meat and beans – the world is your oyster–errr, enchilada.

You will need:

  • 8-12 small tortillas, torn in half (corn or flour)
  • 1 15 oz can drained cooked beans, or 2 c cooked dried beans (I use pintos or black beans)
  • 1-2 c chopped butternut squash (optional)
  • 1/2 c water or beer
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 c shredded or crumbled cheese (I’ve used Monterey Jack, cheddar, and queso blanco, but anything goes here)
  • 1 c salsa of choice or 1 1/2 c Simple Enchilada Sauce (recipe follows)
  • 1/2 c cream, sour cream, or yogurt (if using salsa)
  • Optional Toppings: sour cream, jalapeno peppers, limes, cilantro, green onion, hot sauce

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 3-4 quart casserole dish. A 9×13 pan works here, too.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine beans, water, chili powder, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, and about 1/2 tsp salt, and heat to a simmer over medium high heat. Cook the beans until the liquid reduces by at least 1/2, about 10 minutes – there should be some “sauce” when you’re finished. Remove from heat.
  3. Meanwhile, combine salsa and sour cream until well blended. (If using Simple Enchilada Sauce, omit the sour cream.)
  4. Spread about 1/4 c of the sauce evenly on the bottom of the casserole dish. Layer about 4 torn tortillas so the bottom is covered (you may need more, depending on the size of your dish). Spread another 1/4 c of the sauce on top of the tortillas.
  5. Layer the beans, squash (if using), and cheese on top of the tortillas (it doesn’t matter which order, since it all becomes a mess by the end). Top with another layer of tortillas, and another 1/4 c of the sauce. Repeat layering, topping the casserole with tortillas, sauce, and about 1/4 c of cheese.
  6. Cover the casserole dish, and bake at 375 for about 20-25 minutes, until squash is tender. (If you’re not using squash, the cook time will be about 15-20 minutes, covered.) Bake, uncovered, for another 5 minutes until cheese is melted and a bit toasty on top.
  7. Cool on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes before serving, if you can wait that long.

Simple Enchilada Sauce

You will need:

  • 1 tbsp oil or fat
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 4 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder (or 1 clove minced garlic)
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano (Mexican, if you can find it)
  • 2 c broth of choice, beer, or water

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat until hot. Whisk in flour, making sure to combine thoroughly with the whisk. Cook for about 1 minute until fragrant.
  2. Add chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, salt, and oregano to the pan and whisk to combine, and cook for about 1 minute. Carefully pour broth into the skillet, making sure to stir up bits on the bottom thoroughly so they blend with the broth. Heat to boiling, then lower the heat to low and simmer until reduced by about 1/4, about 5-10 minutes. This should make about 1 1/2 c of sauce. Use immediately, or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

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