Cooking With Nicole: Enchilada Pie

This week, I’ll be showing you how I make my enchilada pie, which is sort of like a Tex-Mex lasagna. I don’t use a recipe for this, and I make it differently all the time. But the basic ingredients are always the same, and I’ll give you variations as we go along.

For the version I’m showing you, I made a vegetarian enchilada pie. I was attending a (very fun) potluck thrown by my colleague, and I knew she was vegetarian, as was at least one of my other colleague’s wives. So, keeping in mind my second law of catering,I made a vegetarian version of this dish. Everyone ate it with no meat, but at least two people would not have eaten it with meat.

For all versions of this dish, you’ll need the following:

  • Taco spice
  • Refried beans
  • Tortillas of your choice
  • Enchilada sauce
  • Cheese (Mexican blend, or cheddar, or whatever you like. Just lots of it)
  • Olive oil

For this version, my filling contained:

  • one  zucchini squash (courgette)
  • two large portobello mushrooms
  • one red pepper
  • one large onion

For a meaty version, your filling could also contain any of the following: ground beef, ground turkey, strips of chicken, beef and/or turkey, or anything else you’d like.

Here are my filling ingredients, all lovely and ready to rumble:

The first thing I did was chop all my vegetables into rough, big, but still bite-sized cubes. After which I put everything in a bowl, and coated the veg in olive oil and taco seasoning to marinade. Vegetables don’t need too long to marinade; I think I left these in for about 1/2 hour.

Here’s shots of the veg with and without the marinade:

As you can see, the marinade isn’t smothering the veg, but don’t be skimpy with it, either. A lot of the flavoring for the dish will come from this single layer. Also remember if using mushrooms that they soak up oil, so I’d use about 1/4 of a cup of oil for this many veg. Even if they seem a little dry, the mushrooms will release all their juice (and the oil) upon cooking.

[Note: If I were making this with, say, chicken I intended to grill and cube, I would have marinaded the chicken overnight. If I were using a ground up, taco filling (the turkey taco filling would be sublime in this), I would just cook any vegetables I used (and you can use all or none of the above with your taco meat) with the meat.]

After the veg is done marinading, I dump it into a big Pyrex dish, and roast it at 400℉ for, oh, maybe 30 minutes? Just keep checking it every fifteen minutes, stirring the veg around, till it’s roasted.

You’ll know it’s done when it looks like this:

While the veg is roasting (or the meat is cooking, depending on what version you make), I get everything else ready.

First of all, you want to put two cans of refried beans on to cook. You could, probably smear them on cold, but I think this would be a pain in the butt. Plus, the final dish will cook faster (obviously) if the ingredients are already warm. I use refried black beans:

But you can use whatever you like. While you’re by the beans at the grocery store, you also want a can of enchilada sauce. I’ve found through lots of tastings that the more ghetto and rinky-dink the can looks, the better the sauce tastes. So don’t go for the (white people’s) fancy, organic, stunningly packaged sauce. Go for something in the part of the store that houses all the authentic Mexican food, and that has the shittiest label possible. It will, inevitably, be the best enchilada sauce. For this version, I used this bad boy:

It was really, really tasty. You could also use the salsa verde version, or–gasp!–make your own, should you be so inclined.

When your beans are hot, and your vegetables are roasted (or you meat ready to roll), we can start assembling. First, at the bottom of another large pyrex dish, spread a layer of the enchilada sauce. This should keep the pie from sticking, but I still gave my dish a brushing of olive oil.

On top of the enchilada sauce, place your first layer of tortillas. I cut mine in half, and jigger them about quite a bit. You’re never going to get a perfect cover, so don’t drive yourself batty, but do get as much tortilla coverage as you can:

On top of these tortillas, you add your first layer of black beans. There will be two layers, eventually:

At this stage, you can also sprinkle a layer of cheese on top of the beans, if you’d like. Next comes another layer of tortilla:

On top of which you spread your layer of roasted veg (or your meat filling):

And then you’ve got another layer of tortilla, then one of beans (and cheese if you wish), and then one, final layer of tortilla. Upon this last layer of tortilla, you pour a generous amount of your enchilada sauce, and then start covering that sauce with your cheese:

You end up with a lovely enchilada pie, waiting to be baked:

Cover in foil, and bake the whole thing in a 375℉ oven, for about 30-45 minutes, or until the edges are bubbling. Take the foil off for the last fifteen minutes of baking, till the cheese melts and bubbles.

Serve with sour cream, guacamole, and salsa.

Obviously, you can make this dish any way you choose. Here are some possibilities you can explore:

  • Don’t like beans? Use two layers of veg, or two layers of meat/veg.
  • Don’t like veg? Use just a layer of meat between the beans.
  • Want more filling? Use two layers of filling with only one layer of beans, sandwiched in the middle.
  • Want a veggie/meatie Enchilda Neopolitan? Use one layer meat on the bottom, a layer of beans in the middle, and then a top layer of veg. OMG I just made myself hungry.
  • Make a fajita version, with grilled, marinated meats and veg.
  • Do a super simple, Taco Bell bean burrito version with a layer of cheese and roasted onion, a layer of beans, and another layer of cheese and roasted onion. I’d make out with that pie. A big, stinky, oniony make out. And I’d love every second.

If you can think of any other varietals, or you already make a variety, do share with the class! Or ask me any questions. AWESOME.

Here’s a picture of the finished product, sitting with all the other delicious food we consumed at the potluck:

We have to do it again soon, colleagues! YUM!

Posted by Nicole Peeler

Author, Professor, Lover, Fighter

9 thoughts on “Cooking With Nicole: Enchilada Pie”

  1. That's the brand I use, and the refried beans are great. I can't remember if it's this same brand or another but you can get one that is a spicy refried beans with peppers in it- it's really good. I wonder– do you think the flour tortillas work better than the corn tortillas?

    I need to make this…I like how you spread the refried beans.

  2. I love that stuff! I make a fajita chicken version that kicks much ass. I made an all veg version for a friend once, it never occured to me to use zuchini though. Mine was all onions peppers and mushrooms. Still delicious though.

  3. On an unfood related note, I just got an e-mail saying The Clarks will be playing Greensburg on Oct. 28. I figured I'd pass along the info for some pre-Halloween partying.

  4. great recipe! I have a similar one that involves making a chili with salsa and beans. Then it's served with sour cream, green onion, and tomato slices. Best of all? It's called "lasagna with Mex appeal". Classic.

  5. Becky: It's delish, and a good make-ahead dish.

    Moonsanity: Spicy beans would be great! And I dunno about flour v. corn, I think either would be fine.

    Vickie: It's delish! They'll love it!

    Stacy: I often do the fajita version. In fact, that's how this started….. But I realized watching everyone have strips of red pepper hanging out their mouths that cutting up everything worked even better. 😉

    Heather: Ooo, thanks for sharing! I'll look into that. 😉

    Jenny: Hahahahahaha…I love that! So seventies! Before people could handle full Mexican……….. LOL

  6. Looks Amazing and My family will love it…"Cooking with Nicole"..Now a segment of " Authors in The Kithchen" Would be a Great Show…"The Long Quiche Goodbye" Author:Avery Ames Has THE BEST RECIPES ,,she is on If you Love Quiche,and other Great recipes.. Hers is The Best one besides The NYTimes Cookbook……Thanks for Sharing..Susan

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