As y’all know, I love Mexican food. This recipe is my go t0 when I want a homecooked but relatively easy dinner. I almost always have the ingredients on hand, it’s ready before I can say la cena esta lista, and it requires very little actual “cooking.” This isn’t the healthiest or the prettiest meal in the world, I’ll admit, but this Mexican casserole is my comfort food. Maybe it will be yours, too.
I called this recipe “choose your own adventure” because what I’ve provided here is just a base for you to work from. There are so many different ways to make this, you guys, so many possibilites. But, unlike the classic book series from childhood, I guarantee all of them end in you having a full and happy stomach. I used chicken and spinach this time because I had some on hand, but it’s just as easy to use ground beef, turkey, or no meat at all. In fact, most often I make this Mexican casserole using just beans (usually black, but sometimes kidney beans) instead of meat. Toss in whatever leftover vegetables you have in your fridge; corn, zucchini or sweet potatoes would be particularly delicious in this recipe. If you prefer flour tortillas, feel free to use them instead. And if you’re trying to cut down on the fat content, it’s easy to go light on the cheese or omit it altogether. You can also double or triple the recipe if you want to make a larger amount.
Choose Your Own Mexican Casserole
makes 3-6 servings
total time: 40 minutes
total hands-on time: 10 minutes
What you’ll need:
- approximately 6 corn tortillas
- 3 cups shredded chicken
- 1 can of diced tomatoes (If you don’t want to use canned tomatoes, use 2 cups of diced tomatoes)
- 2 tsps cumin
- 2 tsps chili powder
- red pepper flakes or other seasonings (optional)
- 2 cups fresh spinach
- 1 1/2 cups of salsa
shredded Mexican-blend or cheddar cheese to your liking
What you’ll do:
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Grease a 1.5 qt casserole dish.
3. Place a layer of tortillas in the bottom of the dish. They probably won’t fit evenly; feel free to adjust the size of the tortillas so the majority of the bottom of the dish is covered.
4. Heat the tomatoes with the cumin, chili powder and other spices in a small pot. Stir occasionally. If you’re using additional vegetables, you can add them to the pot with the tomatoes or layer them separately.
5. Place a layer of chicken on top of the tortillas, then a layer of spinach, then a layer of tomatoes, then a thin layer of shredded cheese. The layers don’t have to be perfect, everything will kind of settle once it’s baked.
6. Layer ingredients until they are all gone. Top with additional tortillas, salsa and more cheese. If you’re inclined, you could also top this with black olives, jalapenos or sliced tomatoes or peppers.
7. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Let it cool for a few minutes before cutting and serving.
On this day, I elected to eat this by itself, but it’s really good when served with a small salad or a couple slices of avocado.