If you are like most of us, trying to get a healthy, filling and delicious meal on the table during busy weeks is especially stressing. There never seems to be enough time and it can be challenging to please everyone in the family. That is why I love making casseroles that can be made ahead and served later in the week or frozen for future meals.
This recipe is a combination of two of my favorites – layered enchiladas and tamale pie. I took elements from each one and put them together for a meal that may be even better than the originals!
This winter has been especially brutal for most of the United States, with temperatures far below normal and storm after storm heaping snow on already buried towns. Schools and many stores are closed, children are home and people have to rush out to stock up in the breaks between storms. Everyone is craving hearty, warming and comforting foods – anything to soothe their frazzled nerves and offset the frigid temperatures.
Over the years I have spent hundreds of dollars on fresh herbs from the grocery store, usually throwing away at least half of the amount I buy because I cannot use them fast enough. It is very frustrating and expensive. Dried herbs are good, but they lack the burst of bright flavor that fresh herbs provide.
Have you discovered Gourmet Garden herbs and spices yet? They are fresh herbs packed into tubes usually found in the refrigerated section of the produce department. They are the best way to have the flavor of fresh herbs with the convenience of dried. I keep mine in the freezer for even longer shelf life and use them in many of my dishes.
Most people I know love Mexican and Southwestern foods and their popularity is on the rise. The beauty of making them yourself is that you can customize the flavors to suit your family’s tastes. If you have some who are sensitive to spicy foods and others who can’t get enough hot sauce, you know exactly what I mean. You can dial the heat level up or down to please your diners.
I used a combination of beef and pork for flavor and texture. If you have someone who doesn’t eat pork, you can use all beef or mix in some ground turkey or chicken. I added corn and black beans to make it better for us without sacrificing any flavor. And if you have picky eaters, they will eat every bite of this without arguing with you. If they don’t like whole beans, you can use refried instead.
This recipe can be scaled up or down to fit any size of event. Make it in a single or multiple baking dishes. If you want, double the recipe and make a second batch to freeze for future meals. Once the casserole has cooled down, cover and refrigerate it for an hour or two and then you can cut it into square, wrap in plastic and individually freeze them for your own homemade TV dinners!
Many people are now transitioning to a gluten-free diet and if you are concerned about cooking for them, I’ve given you clues on where to look for hidden sources of gluten. Gourmet Garden products are gluten-free, but many ordinary items are not. Always check the labels to be safe.
I love the freshly squeezed lime juice in this dish. It cuts through the heavier meats and cheese adding a splash of acid that really wakes up your taste buds. Pass additional lime slices or wedges at the table for everyone to add more if they want it.
Have a wonderful time making this fast, easy, and delicious meal for your family and friends!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
Make it in advance and freeze part of it for future meals, or make a day ahead and rewarm it for a fast and easy weeknight dinner.
Always read the labels on corn tortillas. You would think they would be naturally gluten-free, but many manufacturers sneak wheat products in, which helps keep them moist and flexible.
- Seasoned Meat
- 2 tsp organic olive oil
- 1 lb lean ground beef, crumbled
- 1 lb ground pork (not sausage), crumbled
- 1 cup finely chopped white or yellow onions
- 1 to 2 tbsp Gourmet Garden Chile Pepper
- 3 to 4 tbsp Gourmet Garden Taco Seasoning or a packet of taco seasoning (gluten-free if needed)
- 1/4 cup water
- Juice of 1 lime (or more to taste)
- 2/3 cup frozen corn kernels
- 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and well rinsed
- 2 cups Pico de Gallo, homemade or jarred salsa (use hot, medium, or mild depending on our family’s tastes) (gluten-free if needed)
- 12 (6-inch) corn tortillas (gluten-free if needed)
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup sliced scallions (white and light green parts only), divided
- Lime wedges, for garnish
- Tortilla chips, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 9 by 13-inch baking dish or Dutch oven. You can also make this in two smaller baking dishes, making it easy to freeze one for future dinners.
- Prepare Seasoned Meat: In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the ground meat and cook until browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Break up any large chunks with a spoon, flat spatula, or potato masher. Use a spoon to remove grease from the pan, and discard. Stir in the white onions, Chile Pepper, and Taco Seasoning; cook until onions are tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the water, lime juice, and corn. Cook 2 minutes. Stir in the black beans, cook for another minute and then remove from the heat.
- Assemble and Bake the Casserole: Spread 1 cup of the salsa in the bottom of the baking dish. Lay 6 tortillas over the salsa, and spoon half of the meat mixture on top. Cover with 1/2 cup of the salsa and half the shredded cheese. Top with 6 more tortillas, the remaining meat and another 1/2 cup of salsa. Combine the remaining shredded cheese with half of the green onions and scatter over the top. Bake until heated through and the cheese is melted and bubbling, about 25 to 30 minutes.
- To Serve: Cut into squares and sprinkle with the remaining scallions. Garnish each dish with lime wedges and tortilla chips, and serve hot. Pass remaining salsa at the table.
- Make Ahead: This casserole, like so many, improves in flavor when made ahead. Cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate. Reheat in the oven or microwave.
- Yield: 8 servings (this recipe easily doubles)
- Lower Calorie Options: Use ground white turkey meat, eliminate the sour cream, cut back to 8 tortillas (use 4 for each layer), and reduce the amount of cheese. Serve smaller portions of the casserole and add a large tossed green salad and cut up fruit alongside. Bake in two smaller dishes and freeze one for a future meal. That way you won’t be as tempted to eat all the leftovers!
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Disclosure: I develop recipes for Gourmet Garden and was compensated for this recipe.
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