Thursday, October 17, 2013

Butternut and Black Bean Enchilada Bake

002Finally, finally the weather is cooling down in south Texas.  Turning on the oven no longer seems like the height of lunacy.  Warm dinners actually sound appealing.  So, after seeing butternut squash making an appearance in my grocery store again, I made a batch of Butternut Squash and Apple Bisque.  That wasn’t enough, though–my craving for the sweet, earthy taste of butternut squash hadn’t yet been satisfied.  (We were not squash eaters while I was growing up, for reasons I really can’t imagine–lord knows we ate everything else that usually grows in a backyard garden–and that might be why I’m a little squash-crazy as an adult.)

I decided to try something new.  Something adventurous.  Something cozy, creamy, and cheesy.

This is a cross between a recipe for a casserole and a recipe for enchiladas.  Rather than stuffing and rolling tortillas, I tore them into pieces (the way I would when making King Ranch Chicken Casserole.)  Rather than using a traditional enchilada sauce, I used a version of the creamy sauce I’d use for Veggie Enchiladas. But I did use the traditional spices I’d use when making a Mexican entree–chili powder, cumin, garlic, and cilantro.

You’ll note that this recipe calls for roasting the squash, corn, and onions before you layer them into this casserole.  Roasting the vegetables brings out their flavors and softens them up, so all you’re doing when you bake them in the casserole is re-warming them, not letting them cook through.  If you have other vegetables on hand that you’d like to add–red or yellow peppers, for instance, or zucchini, or even potatoes–go ahead and add them to the veggie mixture while it’s roasting.  Very firm vegetables (like potatoes) need to go in with the squash; softer veggies (like zucchini) can be added later, with the corn.

Like most casseroles, this one comes out of the baking pan looking slouchy and comfortable; it won’t win any prizes for presentation, and it’s probably not a company-worthy dish.  The Boy looked a little suspicious when he found it on his dinner plate.  After a few bites, however, he said, “It’s actually good.  I like that it makes dinner simple: veggies and protein and everything all in one place.”  The Hubs went completely wild for this recipe.  He’s a huge fan of the black bean and corn combo, and adding butternut squash to the mix could only make things better.

If you find the prospect of chopping up a butternut squash rather daunting, you might do what I did today–buy a package of peeled and chopped butternut at Costco–or look at this terrific tutorial from The Kitchn. I promise, it isn’t nearly as hard as it looks like it will be.

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Butternut and Black Bean Enchilada Bake

Ingredients:

3 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup corn
1 can black beans
2 T. butter
2 T. flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 can (4 oz.) diced green chilies
1 T. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 T. dry cilantro
1 1/2 cups light sour cream
8 ounces Monterrey Jack cheese, grated
Corn tortillas (about 9)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the butternut squash and onions with a small amount of olive oil, making sure to coat the vegetables. Turn the mixture onto a baking sheet; sprinkle with chili powder and dry garlic. Roast for 30 minutes, stirring once. Sprinkle the corn over the squash and onion mixture, then return the baking pan to the oven for 10 more minutes. Allow this mixture to cool for about 10 minutes after it comes out of the oven, and turn the oven down to 350 degrees.

While the veggies are roasting, grate the cheese and set it aside. Then make your sauce: melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Allow this mixture to cook and thicken for about five minutes; whisk in the milk until you have a smooth sauce, then stir in the green chilies, chili powder, cumin, and cilantro. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the sour cream. Set aside (on a cold burner) until you're ready to use the sauce.

In a large bowl, combine the roasted veggies with the black beans. Stir in 1/2 cup of the sauce until everything is combined.

Coast a 9 x 13 pan with non-stick spray. Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce on the bottom of the pan; then tear the tortillas into pieces and layer them over the sauce. (It takes about three tortillas to make a layer.) Top the tortillas with half the squash mixture, a third of the cheese, and a third of the remaining sauce. Repeat these layers: tortillas, squash mixture, cheese, sauce. End with one last layer of tortillas, then top with the remaining sauce and cheese.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until the casserole is browned and bubbly on top.

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