I think we can all universally agree that once the wind starts blowing and the leaves start falling, it's time for comfort food! Well, it's always time for comfort food, but this is the time of year when we start to yearn for something warm and hearty; something deep and flavorful that's been baking in the oven or simmering on the stove. In the World's Tiniest Kitchen, that means it is time once again for Tortilla Bean Casserole.
I have a warm spot in my heart (and my stomach) for Tortilla Bean Casserole, because it is one of the first dishes I created back when my husband and I first moved in together and I was learning the ropes of how to cook for two people who had somewhat disparate food habits, while also sticking to a conservative budget and not spending too much time in the kitchen (this was when The World's Tiniest Kitchen itself was also new to me, I had to adjust).
Enter Tortilla Bean Casserole. I like to call it a Crowd Pleaser, which in my book means any dish I can bring to an extended family gathering or a potluck dinner with friends where I won't get the "oh, more healthy stuff?" routine because it'll be gobbled and gone before anyone thinks to raise an eyebrow. It's also super easy, so it's a great recipe for anyone who doesn't have much experience in the kitchen. Today was the perfect day to cook up a big pan of this dish, and for a light and refreshing contrast, I served it with my Arugula Salad with Golden Beets and Artichokes, recipe below.
Tortilla Bean Casserole
2 cups uncooked beans, either kidney and black beans or kidney beans and black eyed peas
(canned beans can be used if necessary, see note below on cooking beans)
1 package sprouted grain corn tortillas (ex: Food for Life brand, available at health food stores)
1 jar all natural, low sodium/no salt added tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups organic frozen sweetcorn
1 large onion
2 tbsp olive oil
Soak, wash, and cook beans according to instructions on how and why to cook your own beans here. If using canned beans, you will need at least 2 cans of each kind of bean (4 cans total), and be sure to rinse them well in water. Once beans are ready, set aside. Chop the onion into small pieces, place in a saute pan with tbsp olive oil, and saute over medium -low heat until fragrant and translucent. Set aside. In a large saucepan, heat the jar of tomato sauce over medium heat until slightly bubbly, add the beans, corn, onions, 1 tsp. chili powder and 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, a sprinkle of allspice, sea salt, and black pepper. Simmer on medium to low heat for 15-20 minutes minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a roughly 10" x 13" casserole pan, ladle about 1/3 of the bean mixture into the bottom and spread it out to form one thin, even layer across the bottom of the pan. Top with one single layer of the corn tortillas, covering the entire surface but not overlapping much- tear them into pieces when you need to cover smaller areas. Then top that with another 1/3 of the bean mixture spread into a thin, even layer, and top that with another solid single layer of tortillas. Spread the remaining 1/3 of the bean mixture over the tortillas in an even layer, and top with the last layer of tortillas. You now have 3 alternating layers of each, and the package of tortillas should provide just enough. Press the top layer or tortillas down a little so that they get "wet" with sauce on one side, and then turn them over and re-layer them with the other side facing down so that the top is now moist. Drizzle this top crust of tortillas with 1 tbsp olive oil and use the back of a spoon to spread it evenly to coat each tortilla. For an extra kick, I also drizzled the top layer with a tiny bit of cider vinegar-based all natural barbecue sauce left over from a trip to North Carolina, if you want to get crafty and try that! Otherwise, you're ready to go. Place in the oven and bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes, until it looks like this:
Cut into square pieces as you would lasagne and remove each serving from the pan carefully with a spatula. This makes enough for 6-8 people and is GREAT as leftovers (add some additional tomato sauce when reheating if leftovers seem dry); it freezes well, too, so don't worry if you're making this for just one or two people- plenty to freeze and heat up another time! According to my husband, it tastes best when reheated as leftovers, and that fact plus it's easy transportability makes this is a perfect bring-leftovers-for-lunch meal. Throw some veggies on the side and you're all set!
Speaking of veggies, I served it with....
Arugula Salad with Golden Beets and Artichoke Hearts
3-4 cups baby arugula
8 pieces frozen artichoke hearts (or roughly 2 large whole artichoke hearts quartered, if using fresh)
1 medium/small golden beet
Wash arugula and spin dry in salad spinner or pat dry with paper towel, place in a salad bowl with room to toss. Scrub beet well, remove rough top, and trim any tough skin around the top, along with the skinniest part of the root if still attached. Cut in half lengthwise and then into small half-moon segments as shown in photo. Place into a shallow saute pan with 1 inch water (along with artichoke hearts if using frozen), bring to a boil, turn to medium heat and simmer for 7-8 minutes. (If using fresh cooked artichoke hearts, cook beets alone). Drain and cool beets and artichoke hearts, toss in with arugula. Drizzle with olive oil and cider
vinegar, a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper, and toss well to coat.
This salad is the perfect light, simple, and refreshing accompaniment to the warm, dense layers of the tortilla casserole, but it can be served alongside any dish you like.
So there you have it...a delicious Fall meal, from the World's Tiniest Kitchen to your table. Pull up a seat and dig in!
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