When my daughter E. has a friend over for dinner for the first time, my first thought is often the same as what I imagine her friends’ parents think when E. comes to visit for the first time: “Oh no, what will I feed her!” Most kids come packing all sorts of food baggage: This one hates onions but likes broccoli, that one won’t eat anything green but likes beans, as long as they’re baked in barbeque sauce. When you’re used to feeding a child who has been vegetarian from birth, you lose touch with what “normal” kids eat: Lose the hummus–it looks “gross” to little Sally; Molly hasn’t ever had sushi, which, of course, means she won’t touch it.
So I tend to stick to very basic recipes when kids are visiting: spaghetti with marinara sauce, bean burritos, and stir-fries (for the kids who will eat vegetables). This can make it appear to their parents that we eat the same boring things week after week, but at least their children don’t starve while they’re here.
Last night, we had a young visitor for dinner, one who I knew liked Mexican food, so I decided to prepare a family favorite that we haven’t had in a long time (since before I started this blog, in fact). It’s based on a recipe for No-Roll Enchiladas that has become very popular over at Fatfree Vegan Recipes, but I’ve renamed it Mexican Lasagna because that’s what my daughter calls it. It’s a great dish for visiting food critics (a.k.a. kids) and for potluck dinners, and it was a big hit last night, even though our visitor did manage to pick out all the black beans and leave them on the side of her plate. Oh well. Everybody doesn’t like something!
Mexican Lasagna (or Enchilada Casserole)
- 1/2 large green bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 large red bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped (optional)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 cups cooked black beans (2 cans rinsed and drained)
- 2 medium tomatoes, diced
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- 1/2 tsp. cumin
- corn tortillas–at least 12
- 3 cups (28 ounces) fatfree refried beans
- 1 cup salsa
- 1 can enchilada sauce (or 1 1/2 cups homemade)
- sliced black olives (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- In a non-stick pan with a little water (1 tbsp.), sauté the peppers, garlic, and onion for about 3 minutes, or until softened. Add the black beans, tomatoes, chili powder, and cumin. Set aside.
- Spray a 9 X 13-inch baking pan with non-stick spray. Line the bottom with a layer of tortillas (you may cut some of them to fit). Make sure you cover the entire bottom of the pan.
- Combine the refried beans and salsa and heat until bubbly. Spread half of them evenly over the tortillas. Cover the refried beans with half of the black bean mixture.
- Add another layer of tortillas and repeat the layers of refried beans and black beans. Cover with a final layer of tortillas, pour the enchilada sauce over the top, and sprinkle with black olives (if desired). Cover and bake for about 30 minutes or until hot throughout. It will be easier to cut if you allow it to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.
Fresh corn is a great addition to this. I use about 2 cups of uncooked (or frozen) corn and add it as one more layer. You may need a deeper pan, though.
Cooking time (duration): 40 minutes
Number of servings (yield): 8
Makes about 8 large servings. Nutrition (per serving): 271 calories, 15 calories from fat, 1.8g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 1055.5mg sodium, 521mg potassium, 51.3g carbohydrates, 14.2g fiber, 7.2g sugar, 14.4g protein, 4.8 points.