I love enchiladas.
But let’s be honest…sometimes making them is a complete pain in the butt. You get all the ingredients together and then you have all that dipping and rolling before you even get them in the pan.
My lovely sister told me that she loves the Chicken Chipotle Enchilada recipe but making them turned her kitchen into a total disaster area.
So why not take a few steps out of the enchilada situation and make them into a casserole?
The bonus of the casserole is that you can stuff all sorts of other good things in there that would never fit in a single tortilla. Spinach and beans join the chicken, peppers, and onions.
And of course there is cheese. Always cheese.
Here’s what you need:
Chicken, Bell Peppers, Onion, Spinach, Olive Oil, Chicken Broth, Milk, Butter, Flour, Pinto Beans, Green Enchilada Sauce, Chopped Green Chiles, Pepper Jack Cheese, Corn Tortillas, Chili Powder, Cumin, Salt & Pepper. Cilantro, Black Olives, and Sour Cream for topping.
I have 2 chicken breasts halves that I baked earlier. Simply put the chicken on a foil lined sheet pan, season the chicken with salt & pepper, and drizzle it with a little olive oil. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes until golden brown and the juices run clear.
I make these in mass – usually 5-6 chicken breasts halves at a time – so I have chicken ready for other recipes, for cutting up on salads, for bribing cats to take their insulin, etc. You can pull it off the bones and freeze it in ziplock bags and feel super efficient!
Once the chicken has cooled, remove the skin, pull them meat off the bones and shred it with your fingers or two forks.
Don’t forget a small treat for the sous chef…
If you want things to be really simple, you can also use rotisserie chicken from the store.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Chopping. Cut 1 large onion in half and then into thin slices. Slice up 2 bell peppers – I like yellow and red for the color as well as for their sweeter flavor.
Heat 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan (mine is non-stick so I use less oil) over medium high heat.
Add the peppers and onions and saute until soft and slightly browned on the edges – about 5 minutes.
Remove the cooked peppers and onions from the pan and set aside.
Melt 2 Tablespoons of butter in the same pan you used to cook the peppers. When the butter is melted, stir in 3 Tablespoons of flour.
Stir and cook the flour over medium heat to make a thick paste or roux.
Gradually add 1 cup of chicken broth and stir and whisk to remove any lumps.
I like to add about half of the broth, whisk really well, then add the rest of the broth.
When the broth is all incorporated, add 1 cup of milk using the same method of whisking to remove any lumps.
You now have a nice white sauce for the enchiladas. Let’s season it up with 1 teaspoon of chili powder, 1 teaspoon cumin, and salt & pepper to taste. Bring the sauce up to a simmer so that it thickens then turn down to low so that it does not stick.
At this point I went a bit nutso adding stuff to the enchiladas. I really wanted to make these healthy and add as many veggies and good things as possible. So…
Add 1 (4.5 oz) can of chopped green chiles to the pan. Grate 1 cup (or more) of pepper jack cheese and add 1/4 of it to the sauce. Save the rest of the cheese for the topping.
Fresh spinach is my go to vegetable addition for chicken enchiladas. If a restaurant has spinach enchiladas on the menu, it’s pretty much guaranteed that I will order them.
Roughly chop 8-10 ounces of baby spinach and add it to the pan. The heat of the sauce will wilt the spinach so don’t worry about really packing it in there.
Pinto beans! Protein and flavor. Drain and rinse 1 (14 oz) can of pintos and dump them in.
Rather than rolling the tortillas, we’re going to layer them into the pan like a lasagna.
To make the tortillas easier to cut (and so they don’t fall apart), wrap 12 corn tortillas in damp paper towels and microwave them for 20-30 seconds. You might need more tortillas (or less) depending on the size of your baking dish.
Unwrap the tortillas and cut them in half.
Spray a large baking dish (mine is 9 x 13) with non-stick spray. Coat the bottom of the dish with a light layer of green enchilada sauce. Save the rest of the can (10 oz) of enchilada sauce for topping the casserole at the end.
Add a layer of corn tortilla halves in the bottom of the pan. I cut them in half to make it easier to fit them in the pan as well as making it easier to cut and serve the finished dish.
It’s perfectly okay for the tortillas to overlap a bit.
Add half of the shredded chicken on top of the tortillas.
Like a lasagna, this is not a precise science. You can obviously add the layers in any order that you like.
Add half of the spinach bean chile sauce on top of the chicken.
Top with another layer of tortillas.
Add all of the peppers and onions in their own colorful layer.
Top with more tortillas.
Add the rest of the chicken and top with the rest of the sauce.
Pour the remainder of the can of green enchilada sauce over the top of the casserole. Use a spatula to be sure that all of the tortillas are covered with sauce.
Top with the remaining shredded pepper jack cheese.
Cover the pan with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until bubbly and golden brown.
Sometimes I like to turn on the broiler for the last minute of cooking for that little extra golden crunch on the cheesy topping. Just be SURE you watch the ENTIRE TIME it is under the broiler or bad things can happen. It takes just seconds to go from golden to blackened.
Let the casserole sit for at least 5 minutes after coming out of the oven to make serving easier.
Top with some chopped fresh cilantro and some sliced black olives.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream if that’s your thing. You could even add MORE veggies by sprinkling a little chopped tomato on top too.
You can take almost any enchilada recipe and turn it into a casserole. This is a vegged up version of my Easy Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas. The Chicken Chipotle Enchilada recipe would also be great as a casserole but I have my sights set on using the veggies from the Black Bean Veggie Tamale Pie recipe in my next pan.
There were leftovers but not for long!
Here’s the recipe: