The part of me that enjoys nourishing others is mightily satisfied when I make a casserole. I know it seems stodgy, but making a heavy pan of food meant to feed a crowd is an act of love. Maybe that’s why casseroles were so popular in the ’70s–wasn’t love in vogue back then?
We’ll call them love enchiladas, then. Although there are lots of other good things in here, too: sweet vegetables, a good boost of protein in the black beans, tofu, and cheese, a kick of chile and spice. But, as usual, there are no hard and fast rules. Use what you have.
And a love note to vegans or those in a rush: the black bean/tofu/veggie mix also makes a killer taco filling. Vegetarian Enchilada Bake with Black Beans and Tofu: To make your enchilada filling, saute a diced onion and a diced red pepper over medium-high heat until the onion begins to brown. Add a diced zucchini, a few cloves of chopped garlic, and some corn. Add a few pinches of salt, a tsp. dried oregano, and a couple tsp. each of cumin and chile powder. Stir in a few cups of black beans (with their liquid if you cooked them; drained if they’re canned) and a block of diced tofu. (If you plan in advance, you can freeze then thaw and crumble the tofu; it gives it a nice texture.) Add some water if necessary to keep the mixture from sticking, simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavors, then taste for salt and mix in a handful of chopped cilantro at the end. You want the mixture fairly saucy so your casserole won’t dry out while baking. Pour a splash of enchilada sauce into a 9×13 pan (I used a prepared one this time, but if you have time it’s always worth making your own from dried chiles). Layer your ingredients on top of the sauce as follows: corn tortillas to cover the bottom of the pan in a single layer, 1/2 of the veggie mixture, a drizzle of enchilada sauce, a sprinkling of melting cheese, a crumble of feta cheese. The next layer is corn tortillas, 1/2 the veggie mixture, more corn tortillas, then the rest of your enchilada sauce. Bake covered at 350 until the enchiladas are hot and bubbling (20-30 minutes if your veggie mixture started out hot), then uncover, sprinkle the top with more of both kinds of cheese, and continue baking until the cheese melts. You can always turn on the broiler to get the top nice and brown. Serve with brown rice, a green salad, and lots of good toppings: chopped cilantro, sliced avocado, salsa, sour cream, and some of that amazing cilantro pesto you keep in your freezer.