October 24th, 2013

Nirvana Enchilada Casserole – VIDEO

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Serves 8
Total time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Active time: 30 minutes

Enchilada Casserole
Photo by Vanessa Rees, food styling by Kate Lewis

Enchiladas can be a lot of work. This version, in casserole form is a little less so. Don’t get me wrong, it still makes more dishes than you want to do, but it’s a lot easier than stuffing each tortilla. Watch me make it and see for yourself! (Oh and check out my sweet HODOR shirt.)

This recipe from Isa Does It is the first I’ve posted from the Sunday Night Suppers section. You know, recipes that you could pull together on a weeknight, but really, why not spend a leisurely Sunday with your friends or your kids or your mom or some stranger off the street, hanging in the kitchen and cooking dinner together?

Layers of corn tortilla sopping up spicy, fragrant, red sauce then overstuffed with mushroom, pinto beans and roasted potatoes. On top is a voluptuous cashew creme that will have you rolling your eyes to the back of your head like a zombie. An enchilada zombie.

PS I just wanna’ give a shout out to my girl Kate Lewis for the amazing styling on this one! It was tough to make a dug-into casserole look so ridiculously appetizing, but Kate found a way. Thanks, girl!


~If you want to add extra heat, there are a few ways I can recommend doing it. Saute a sliced, seeded jalapeno with the onion for the filling, or try an extra jalapeno in the sauce.

~The white sauce is not entirely necessary, but it’s easy enough to do and it looks (and tastes) great. If, however, it’s too much to finagle at the moment or you forgot to soak cashews, then you can just serve topped with some guac. If you wanted to serve with your favorite meltable vegan cheese instead, then I can try to look the other way.

~I love the tenderness of pintos here, but feel free to use black beans! I bet lentils would be yummy, too. But that’s no surprise because I always think lentils would be yummy.

~This is definitely more of a Sunday night supper, but if you want to enjoy it on a weeknight, it can happen. Make the enchilada sauce the night before and be sure to soak your cashews. Everything will come together in a snap!


For the potatoes:
1 1/2 lbs yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
Fresh black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Enchilada sauce:
4 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced medium
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (use 2 if you like more heat)
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons dried oregano (Mexican, preferably)
2 28 oz cans whole tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon agave nectar

White sauce:
1 cup cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours
3/4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cornstarch

For the filling:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, quartered and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups cooked pinto beans (2 15 oz cans, rinsed and drained)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

For assembly:
18 8 inch corn tortillas

Optional toppings:
Fresh chopped cilantro


Make the potatoes and enchilada sauce:
Preheat oven to 425 F.

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the potatoes with the oil right on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with fresh black pepper and salt, and toss to coat. Bake for 15 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 F, flip potatoes and bake for 10 more minutes. Leave oven at 350 F because that is the temp that the enchiladas need to bake at.

Preheat a 4 quart pot over medium heat. Dry toast the cumin and coriander seeds in the pan for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until they’re fragrant and a few shades darker, just be careful not to burn. Add the oil and saute the onion, jalapeno and garlic with oregano and a pinch of salt for about 5 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add the tomatoes, salt and agave, cover pot turn the heat up to bring to a slow boil. Let cook for about 20 minutes.

Once cooked, puree until smooth with with either a submersion blender or by transferring to a blender of food processor. If using a blender, intermittently lift the lid to let steam escape so that it doesn’t build up and explode and kill you. Also, note that if you use a submersion blender you really have to blend a lot to get the seeds to smooth out. Taste for salt and set aside to cool.

Make the filling:
Preheat a large pan over medium heat. Saute the onion in oil with a pinch of salt for about 5 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and saute just until fragrant, 15 seconds or so. Add the mushrooms and salt, and cook until they’ve released a lot of their moisture, about 5 minutes. Add the pinto beans and lime juice and cook just until heated through, 2 minutes or so.

When the roasted potatoes are ready, toss them into the filling mix. Taste for salt and set aside.

Make the white sauce:
Drain the cashews. Add everything to the blender and puree until completely smooth. It’s rather thick, so definitely scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula often or so to make sure you get everything. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Assemble this bad boy:
So we’re just going to be adding layers of sauce, tortillas and filling, then topping it all off. Let’s begin.

Lightly grease a 9×13 casserole pan. Ladle in a thin layer of enchilada sauce, then layer 6 tortillas into the pan. Now things are going to get a bit messy! Ladle in another layer of enchilada sauce (about a cup’s worth), and flip each tortilla to smother in the sauce. Each one should be coated, but you should still be able to see the tortilla, that is to say, it shouldn’t be drowning in the sauce. Next, layer the tortillas so that they’re slightly overlapping and covering the bottom of the pan.

Now add half of the filling, and pour on 1/2 cup of sauce or so. Layer in 6 more tortillas and repeat the process of smother each of them in a cup of sauce. Cover with the remaining filling. Once again pour 1/2 cup of sauce over the filling, and add the final layer of tortillas. Smother those in a cup of sauce. Reserve the rest of the sauce (if any) for serving.

Finally, top with the cashew sauce. I pour it directly out of the blender and try to ribbon it in thick globs over the top. It doesn’t have to be neat, it will look cute pretty much no matter what. Place in the 350 degree oven, and bake uncovered for about 30 minutes. The topping should be lightly golden.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with a handful of pepitas and chopped fresh cilantro if you like. Now it’s ready to serve!

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