Mexican-inspired dishes are always a hit at my house. For my family of three, a batch of these enchiladas goes a lot farther for meals than tacos. Adding prepared salsa from your grocery store’s refrigerated produce section to the enchilada sauce cuts prep work time, adds bite, and keeps the sodium level in this dish down. Just make sure to purchase a mild variety if you’re cooking for sensitive taste buds.
You’ve got lots of options for how to store and serve this casserole. After assembling, I often bake for dinner. Then I refrigerate leftovers in an air-tight container that can be reheated and served for up to five days.
Another option, though, is to freeze the whole dish for later use. To do this, simply cover tightly after assembling — don’t cook it. It’ll hold in the freezer for up to three months. When you’re ready to defrost it, thaw it in the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours, then bake as directed. You can also bake half and freeze half by assembling the casserole in two 8-inch baking dishes instead of one large 13-x9x-inch dish. Bake one 8-inch casserole to serve now, and freeze the other one for later.
Chicken Enchilada Casserole
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
2 tsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp kosher salt
3 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
1 (15-oz) can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen corn, thawed (drained canned corn works, too)
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1 (10-oz) can red enchilada sauce
1 cup fresh salsa or pico de gallo
12 corn tortillas, warmed and cut into fourths
1 (8-oz) pkg shredded Mexican-blend cheese
Chopped green onions
1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; sauté 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low. Add cream cheese, garlic powder, cumin, and salt, stirring to combine and melt cheese. Remove from heat. Stir in chicken, beans, corn, and cilantro.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. Place enchilada sauce and salsa in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook 4 minutes or until warm. While this cooks, lightly coat a 13-x9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
4. To assemble, spread ½ cup salsa mixture in bottom of dish. Top with 16 tortilla quarters, followed by half of chicken mixture, ½ cup shredded cheese, an additional 16 tortilla quarters, and ½ cup salsa mixture. Top with remaining half of chicken mixture and remaining 16 tortilla quarters. Pour remaining salsa mixture evenly over casserole, and top with remaining shredded cheese.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. If desired, sprinkle with green onions.
NUTRITION FACTS (1 serving): Calories 315; Total Fat 12g (Saturated Fat 5g); Cholesterol 62mg; Sodium 356mg; Total Carbs 28g (Dietary Fiber 5g, Total Sugars 3g, Added Sugars 0g); Protein 24g
CAROLYN WILLIAMS, PHD, RD