The gift of a good meal is always appreciated! Taking time to prepare a healthy dish for someone—whether it’s a busy mom, your elderly neighbor or a friend you haven’t seen in awhile—is a thoughtful gesture that will be remembered. Send it in a casserole dish the recipient can keep, along with the recipe, for an added special touch.
This recipe for Bean and Cheese Tortilla Casserole is perfect for gift-giving. It freezes well, can be easily increased to feed more people and may be adjusted to include meat for non-vegetarians.
3 cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth
1 ½ cups mild salsa or medium salsa
1 tablespoon chili powder
½ tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
12 corn tortillas
2 ½ cups shredded Manchego, Swiss or Monterrey Jack cheese
Mexican cream, plain Greek yogurt or regular sour cream, for drizzling (optional)
4 tablespoons chopped cilantro (optional)
(Note: You can add cooked and crumbled ground meat or shredded chicken to this vegetarian casserole, if desired. Instructions are included in the recipe steps below.)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine olive oil, onion, garlic, salt and pepper; heat on high for 4 minutes until onion is soft.
Using a food processor or blender, blend the onion mixture, beans, broth, salsa, chili powder, cumin and oregano together until smooth. Pour bean mixture into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 6 to 7 minutes, or until the beans are hot.
Spread about ½ cup of the bean sauce into the bottom of an 8- to 9-inch square baking pan or casserole dish. (Note: If using meat, spread across top of bean mixture.) Place 4 tortillas, with sides overlapping, on top of the bean sauce. Sprinkle with shredded cheese. Cover with another ½ cup of bean sauce. (Again, add meat, if desired.) Place another 4 tortillas on top, with sides overlapping. Sprinkle with shredded cheese. Repeat bean sauce, tortillas, and finish with the cheese layer.
Bake casserole until cheese is melted, about 10 to 15 minutes. To serve, drizzle with Mexican sour cream or plain Greek yogurt and chopped cilantro, if desired.
The Kitchen Diva is Angela Shelf Medearis, a regular guest chef on “The Dr. Oz Show” and “The Today Show.” She is the author of many cookbooks, including, “The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook.” She blogs for Vitacost.com and Momonomics.com on a weekly basis.