Vegetarian Tortilla Casserole

Shocking Confession Time: Before this weekend, I hadn’t been to the farmers market in a couple years. There was a time, about 5-6 years ago, when I was going every weekend, but my habits changed. This weekend, I was reminded how much I love it. Check out this haul!

farmers-market-haul

I went with Sarah and Allison, the day after our adventures in Orange County, and my friend Jonathan met us there.

jonathan-sarah-allison-david-farmers-market

We spent two hours checking out the stalls, trying free samples, and getting lunch. I got a baked veggie empanada, and it was delicious.

david-empanada-farmers-market

Farmers markets are great for finding new things, which I love, and this time around, I bought some baby broccoli, because I like it when it’s all grown up, so I figured it’d probably be good in its juvenile form, too.

baby-broccoli-farmers-market

Plus, Allison spent about 20 minutes in the petting zoo, making friends with baby chicks, bunnies, goats, and guinea pigs, and I ran into a couple friends that I hadn’t seen in a while. (For all you celebrity spotters, we also saw Pete Wentz, Fall Out Boy bassist and former Mr. Ashlee Simpson, walking around with his son.)

We got back to my place, and pretty much got to work: my aunt, uncle and cousins were coming over for dinner, and there was cooking to be done! We made a fantastic Mexican-influenced vegetarian tortilla casserole, and it was pretty easy. We used this Martha Stewart recipe for inspiration, but changed a few things and added five more types of vegetables, because… the more vegetables, the better!

Here’s how to make VEGETARIAN TORTILLA CASSEROLE. (I took less pictures of the process than I normally do, because there was a lot of other prep for the party… sorry about that!)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Start chopping vegetables. This can totally be a use-what-you-having-lying-around sort of thing, and we had lots lying around, because I had veggies already, plus we brought home more from the farmers market. So I chopped up:

  • 8 ounces button mushrooms
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 small eggplant
  • 3 garlic cloves (which I minced into itty-bitty pieces)

and I used my Veggetti to turn 1 zucchini and 1 yellow squash into a pile of noodles:

zucchini-and-yellow-squash-veggetti

The great thing about this casserole is that most everything gets pre-cooked, so as casseroles go, it’s pretty easy. I added 3 tablespoons olive oil to a big skillet and started sauteing all those vegetables. I added pepper, as well as a nice sprinkling of Tajin, a Mexican seasoning powder that’s made of salt, chiles, and lime. (If you don’t have Tajin, use regular salt.)

While the veggies were cooking down, I started warming corn tortillas. You can warm them in the microwave, but I like lying them directly on my gas stove burners (with the burner on the lowest setting) possible for a minute or two. You just want them pliable, so they’re easy to manipulate and tear when it’s time to assemble the casserole. I ended up using 12 corn tortillas, but that number may vary depending on the size of the tortillas, and the size of your casserole dish.

RELATED: Check out dozens of healthy recipes on my recipes page!

Once the veggies were mostly cooked, I took them off the heat and added:

  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 package of Tofurky soy chorizo. (If you don’t want to go vegetarian, use regular pork chorizo. Or brown up some ground turkey or beef and mix in some taco seasoning.)

tofurky-soy-chorizo

You don’t need to cook the beans or chorizo, really, just stir them in.

Now it’s time to build the casserole! Slick the dish with nonstick spray first.

  • Layer #1 (the bottom-most layer): Cover the bottom with a layer of tortillas. You may have to tear some to get a single layer.

building-layers-vegetarian-mexican-casserole

  • Layer #2: Spoon half the veggie mixture on top of the tortillas.
  • Layer #3: Pour about 8 ounces of salsa on top of the veggies.
  • Layer #4: Sprinkle 1 cup of shredded cheese (I used a Mexican blend, but cheddar or Monterey Jack would be good choices, too)

Then start over and do Layers 1-4 again.

adding-second-layer-mexican-casserole

Since the veggies are already cooked, this just goes into the oven to get piping hot and melt the cheese. Ours was in the oven for 15-20 minutes, and the edges began bubbling. It smelled so good!

vegetarian-mexican-casserole

And it tasted so good too! Lots of flavors and textures from the veggies, and the soy chorizo didn’t make it seem meaty at all – it just added more spice and complexity. Maude was definitely intrigued.

vegetarian-mexican-casserole-salad-plate-maude

We paired it with a simple green salad that Sarah made, entirely from farmers market finds, and she made a simple balsamic dijon vinaigrette dressing.

Everyone loved the casserole, but there were plenty of leftovers, too – so it was a win/win!

Keep it up, David!

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