You’re not going to believe how delicious a healthy, vegetarian Mexican Quinoa Enchilada Casserole can be until you’ve tried it!
Yes, healthy casseroles do exist. And you’re going to love this one, packed with delicious Mexican flavors.
How do you make a vegetable casserole that tastes good?
Well, cheese helps. 🙂 But there is a ton of flavor you get from the beans, peppers, corn and spices. The sauces brings it all together, quinoa takes the place of traditional corn tortillas for an even healthier twist, and the cheese is just sort of icing on the cake.
The thing I love about Mexican food is that you get so much flavor from the combination of vegetables and sauces and then the beans fill you up. So meat really ends up being totally optional.
What ingredients are in this Mexican Quinoa Enchilada Casserole?
This casserole is full of FRESH ingredients! What you’ll be working with is multi-colored bell peppers, jalapeños, red onion, corn, healthy quinoa, lime, cumin, refried black beans, enchilada sauce, a Mexican cheese blend and fresh cilantro to top things off.
Could you add chicken or beef to this enchilada casserole?
The funny thing is I actually intended to include chicken in this recipe the very first time I made it. However, when I got home, I found our rotisserie chicken had been turned into a soup by the hubs. Fine! I’m not complaining. I love that I’m not the only one who cooks around here, ya know what I’m sayin?
So I had to get a little creative a take this casserole in a vegetarian direction. And it was on of those happy accidents.
You could however, add chicken to this dish without changing anything else, and it would be excellent. You could even add ground beef or even shrimp too!
This healthy casserole is quick and easy to make.
Layer cooked quinoa, refried beans, sauteed veggies and cheese in a pan and bake! Watch the video to see, step by step, how to make this dish:
Quinoa + Refried Beans = “Meat”
When I discovered the chicken had been used up, I decided to come up with a vegetarian replacement for the texture and flavor of the meat.
I use a combination of refried beans and quinoa to make a faux “meat.” I also figured that since this was starting to head and a healthy direction, I’d skip the traditional corn tortillas that traditional enchiladas employ. The quinoa played the carb role in a much healthier way and added a nice texture at the same time. Win-win.
So you really don’t need any actual meat here. Once the vegetables, cheese and enchilada sauce blend with this combo, you truly don’t even realize you’re missing the meat.
Could you add seafood or other proteins to this otherwise vegetarian Mexican casserole?
This is a great base recipe but if you want to make it again and again, you can alter it a little each time to keep things fresh and an easy way to do that is my adding more protein.
Vegetarians can add chickpeas, more beans, tofu or cooked seafood to this.
If you’re not a vegetarian and you want to mix things up by making this using meat, you can do that too. Shredded chicken or ground beef would work well in place of or in addition to the refried beans and quinoa. Just include a layer of chicken, beef or pork and everything else stays the same.
Is this vegetarian casserole freezer safe?
Yep! You can make this ahead of time and freeze the whole casserole or you could precook the quinoa and keep that ready to go in the freezer so all you have to do is microwave it to defrost, then prep the casserole.
Are there any shortcuts for making this quickly, like on a weeknight?
A few shortcuts include: buying peppers and onions already diced and buying precooked quinoa. This cuts out a bit of prep time and makes things easy enough to prepare on a weeknight. But really, even if you’re starting from scratch, this can be pulled off on a weeknight. To allow for cook time, start cooking the quinoa early in the evening.
Need a freezer and oven-safe casserole dish?
Want more vegetarian recipe ideas?
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 1 yellow bell pepper diced
- 1 orange bell pepper diced
- 2 jalapeño peppers diced
- 1/2 red onion diced
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 10oz bag frozen corn
- 1 cups cooked quinoa
- Juice from 1 lime
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 16oz can refried black beans
- 1 10oz can enchilada sauce
- 1 cup of Mexican blend shredded cheese
- Fresh cilantro to taste
- Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat and cook peppers, onions, jalapeño and corn until lightly caramelized.
- Mix cooked quinoa and lime juice together then layer it into your casserole dish. (You can use one big 9x12 dish or two smaller ones and freeze one)
- Spoon refried beans over the quinoa and spread out as best you can. (They will spread out more when cooking.)
- Layer on pepper and corn mixture. Spreading as evenly.
- Sprinkle an even layer of cumin next.
- Pour enchilada sauce over entire casserole.
- Top with a final layer of cheese.
- Bake at 350˚ for 25-30 minutes on a low rack. Serve topped with fresh cilantro.