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!
Update March 2020: Several people wrote in saying they add corn to their enchilada casserole, and I tried it and my family loves it that way. In March 2020, I finally got around to taking a photo of the casserole with corn. Frozen or fresh corn taste much better than canned, but if you use frozen, I recommend thawing it first or adding it to the skillet with the peppers, etc.
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 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- corn tortillas–at least 12
- 3 cups fatfree refried beans 2 cans
- 1 cup salsa
- 1 1/2 cups enchilada sauce canned or 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.
Nutritional info is approximate.
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AmandaSeptember 19, 2011 at 9:37 pm
I have made this dish several times and love it so much. One thing I find curious is that I can never get it to cook in less than an hour in the oven. Does anyone else have this problem? I get so excited to eat it after 30 minutes of baking time, but always wind up having to put it back in for another half hour.
MindyNovember 1, 2011 at 12:24 am
I’m eating this right now! It’s so delicious! Perhaps the key to a non-soggy casserole is corn tortillas instead of flour to respond to someone else’s post. I added in a couple big chilis (anaheim?) from the garden instead of a jalapeno and bell peppers and some pinto beans into the refried since I didn’t have enough refried. I also split the recipe into an 8×8 and a pie plate. One to freeze and one to eat since there are only 2 of us! I love hearty, messy vegan food 🙂 Thank you for the recipe!
NancyNovember 10, 2011 at 12:28 pm
Just want to say that this is AMAZING! I have made it a few times, it’s great as is, and I also like to add frozen corn to one layer and diced green chilis to the other. Either way, it’s GREAT. I’ve served it to all kinds of eaters, it always gets rave reviews from all, and everyone wants the recipe! YUM!!!
Heidi LeanneDecember 3, 2011 at 1:13 am
Can’t wait to make this! I have an enchilada casserole in my recipe box that I stole from my grandma, but this looks *gasp!* dare I say it? Better. 🙂
JoyDecember 12, 2011 at 6:39 pm
Just had this for supper…halved the recipe for a smaller pan…it was tasty. Husband and teens said yes you can make this again…success!!
JanetJanuary 20, 2012 at 12:26 pm
I love this recipe, and yes, like you I frequently pull it out when having company that are afraid of vegetables or what those crazy plant-eaters might eat.
LaurenFebruary 5, 2012 at 9:32 pm
This made so much food and was so easy to make! Thanks to you, I now have delicious lunch all week 🙂
ManyhatsFebruary 6, 2012 at 6:26 pm
Thank you so much for this recipe. I had fun trying to cut the tortillas to fit the pan! This was delicious. I think next time I will double the peppers and onions layer (which I wanted to eat out of the pan with a spoon). I added the corn and it did make a great recipe even better! This was a perfect Super Bowl recipe! I spread a layer of fresh guac over the top of each of my servings… yummmm!
SusanApril 11, 2012 at 6:37 am
I love this recipe! I’ve made it 4-5 times with slight variations, and it is one of our favorites. Thanks!
LisaApril 20, 2012 at 11:03 am
I’m new to your blog. I came over on the recommendation of Engine2’s facebook page and we tried your zucchini frittata and it was outstanding! So, I’m exploring some more and I’m going to try this recipe next week. I had a question, though, do you think it would be ok to leave out the black beans? My kids and I love them, but, my husband does not. I’m thinking it would probably be ok because of the refried beans add the protein and I’ll probably add corn, too. Thanks for your input.
Susan VoisinApril 20, 2012 at 11:05 am
Yes, it will be fine without the black beans. If your husband likes pinto beans, you can use them instead or just add more refried beans or corn. It’s a easy recipe to adapt to any tastes.
LisaApril 20, 2012 at 5:51 pm
Thank you, Susan. Looking forward to trying it out, it looks so good.
SünneApril 26, 2012 at 1:50 am
This recipe sounds great! Unfortunately, I can’t get (low-fat) corn tortillas where I live. I do have finally been able to track down whole-wheat tortillas this week, though. May I replace them here? If so, how many would you use (not sure about the size of the tortillas you used)? Each of the tortillas I bought is a scant 1 1/2 ounces in weight.
Thanks a lot in advance!
Susan VoisinApril 26, 2012 at 6:49 am
Just use enough to cover your pan without much overlapping. The corn tortillas are small–about 4 inches across–so you may have to cut yours to fit.
Kate ElliottMay 4, 2012 at 8:43 pm
This is super good, even better the next day…..cold!!
janet @ the taste spaceJuly 18, 2012 at 7:18 am
I made this your way with the tortillas as well as with thinly sliced zucchini as the pasta… Both were delicious! Thank you for the inspiration. 🙂
I posted my version here: http://tastespace.wordpress.com/2012/07/18/mexican-zucchini-lasagna/
LeslieJuly 26, 2012 at 11:53 pm
hey there! Even my husband who eats cheese on his cheese couldnt think of a thing that would make it more delicious! Thank you for bringing us such healthy ideas to nurture our bellies!
SallyJuly 30, 2012 at 5:32 pm
Wow–made this tonight and it is amazing! I added a corn layer before the tomatoes and used the whole jalapeno. Took me a while to find corn tortillas in my little town but I’m glad I persisted. Thanks for another great recipe!!
JulieAugust 17, 2012 at 6:58 pm
I have tried this recipe a couple of times because the picture looked so inviting. I struggled with the refried beans though, they were so thick and I finally picked up the tortilla “noodles” and spread them thickly with the refried beans in desperation. Last night I decided to not use refried beans and instead use whole pinto beans. The servings did not hold together as well, however we all decided this version tasted better this way too (for us anyway). This will be one of our family’s favorites from now on. Thanks for another excellent recipe.
SharonSeptember 16, 2012 at 11:36 am
Forget Julia Childs–I seem to be making my way through every one of YOUR recipes–and I’m much healthier for it! However the problem with that is sometimes we come upon a recipe we like so much we have it over & over & we may never taste everything you have posted. This is one such recipe! It is something we now have a regular basis in our house. Thanks so much!
KelsieSeptember 23, 2012 at 10:56 pm
I make this dish all the time and have yet to leave a comment, for whatever reason. I just love this! And it’s awesome when I have parties and all my non-vegan, college friends (who generally eat junk) come over. There’s plenty of food and they always love it and it’s so easy to add some cheese on top of an individual piece for everyone else and microwave to melt! And it’s so inexpensive! I’m making it as I type because fall term starts tomorrow and I know that I’ll have dinner for a week with this awesome recipe! Life saver! Love it! Nomnomnom.
RheannaOctober 14, 2012 at 11:58 am
Just made this for lunch! It’s 5 out of 5 stars! Thank you for another amazing dish.
donna m.October 22, 2012 at 11:05 am
Hi. I tried the mexican lasagna casserole recipe last night and it was AWESOME!!!! My husband loved it and he normally hates beans.
Very good recipe and guilt free. Will definitely be making this again.
It’s nice to be able to cook vegan and have it be delicious too!
Thanks so much,
ErinNovember 1, 2012 at 3:36 pm
I absolutely love this recipe. It’s enchiladas without all the rolling. I actually make this in the slow cooker. I just looked up other similar slow cooker recipes and adapted it. My whole family loves it. Simple, delicious and family friendly-what more can I ask for? Thanks!
annetteNovember 3, 2012 at 5:59 pm
Im so happy that this site is here. I just recently became Vegan since my doctor said I had to. I am a heart patient of 36 that had a 6 way bi-pass. This site has totally helped me with recipes! Thank you !!!
EmmetFitzhumeNovember 19, 2012 at 3:01 pm
My wife and I enjoyed this dish. I used some extra jalapeno because I like my mexican spicy. Also used organic fat free corn tortillas I found at whole foods.
I’m doing the McDougall program to cure several ailments. My only problem was that I couldn’t find a lowfat or nonfat enchilada sauce. But even with the sauce it worked out to be acceptable. Can’t wait to try some more of the recipes I’ve seen on this site. Thanks for posting them all!
SallyJanuary 5, 2013 at 2:51 pm
In the spirit of Chinese New Year (2013 is Year of the Snake – Uh, no!) – I am declaring 2013 my personal Year of the Bean, and working on some new ways to incorporate beans into my daily eating. This enchilada/Mexican lasagna sounds great and I am off to the store for a few things. Thanks Susan – you have made this transition ever so much easier and fun!
LarissaJanuary 9, 2013 at 1:52 pm
Well we just cooked this and it was LUSH! The children were a bit beaned out on it but ate some. Ketchup helped. But Mummy and Daddy hoovered up thier left overs! Thank you!!
GloJanuary 15, 2013 at 6:33 pm
This was absolutely delicious , added mushrooms to mine… Loved it!
MarshaFebruary 25, 2013 at 10:35 am
I made this for our Oscar viewing party last night. It was a big hit! Delicious! I made some alterations: To the sauteing onions and peppers, I added all the spices, 2 Tbsp of sliced jalapenos and 1 cut up zucchini I had on hand. I ‘buttered’ 1 side of the corn tortillas with the fat-free refried beans to make it much easier to spread the beans. For needed crunch, I topped it with crushed tortilla chips.
craigMarch 6, 2013 at 4:46 am
i was very excited about this dish and don’t get me wrong, i love this blog. the preparation took forever which made me even more hungry to finally eat it, only to find out that the black beans needed to be cooked as well as rinsed and drained. the ridiculous amount of hard black beans has made this dish inedible. it would have been nice to be notified that the beans should have been cooked beforehand.
Susan VoisinMarch 6, 2013 at 6:53 am
I’m so sorry about that! You’re the first person who’s pointed out that the recipe should say cooked black beans. I’ll edit it right away.
MelissaMay 5, 2013 at 7:14 am
I tried this recipe last night for my parents who shun anything non-meat. My dad, in particular, really enjoyed it! I added some zucchini, non-dairy cheese and some sliced green onions on top. Next time I will also add some corn for crunch. But, it was really, really delicious! Plus, I have a ton of leftovers which is the icing on the cake! Thank you – this has just become a “regular’!!
CassieMay 29, 2013 at 2:26 pm
LOVE this recipe! This is a staple in our family! I use pico de gallo (pre-made) in place of the chopped up onions, jalapeno, and salsa. This makes a LOT and lasts us a few days with leftovers. Thanks again!
BetsyAugust 13, 2013 at 3:03 pm
Just discovered your website and made this recipe. It was delicious. My 2 year old loved it too! What a great recipe. Thank you!
LoriNovember 2, 2013 at 10:13 pm
I’ve been making a dish very similar to this for years. I actually used the recipe my mother made when I was growing up – she used hamburger and cheddar cheese in hers. When we transitioned from omni to vegetarian I simply eliminated the meat and cheddar and it’s still a winner! My kids grew up eating it and now that they are grown it’s still a favorite with them and their friends.
NancyDecember 19, 2013 at 7:49 am
This is delicious! Thank you so much! My 25 year old daughter turned me on to this recipe. My somewhat reluctant plant eating husband raved about this dish! He has taken it to work all week. The ladies in his office have been curious about his meals and some have asked for recipes. I love this dish as well. Not only is it really delicious, but I can get multiple servings from one cooking job. Fabulous casserole dish meals save me every time. I am constantly on the prowl for them. This one is a keeper. It goes into the regular rotation. Thank you so much!
NancyDecember 22, 2013 at 1:55 pm
Susan, I keep pouring over your website, looking for another dish my reluctant husband will eat. He took this Mexican Lasanga to work every day happily and raved about it. We both happily anticipated each meal that this was served. A big hit and a permanent favorite! You did it again! Thank you!!!!!
leftylenJanuary 19, 2014 at 5:57 pm
Excellent, highly recommended.
JenJanuary 23, 2014 at 8:46 pm
made this tonight and it was really great! I added corn and some chopped mushrooms.
Nelda KingJanuary 25, 2014 at 9:04 am
sounds like a wonderful recipe, my husband is gluten intolerant, and I believe this would work for him