Should different foods touch? Opinions on either side of this debate continue to rage. I prefer to slosh each and every portion of my meal around into a uniform concoction of what is most accurately called slosh itself. And now I subject you to this preference. Mexican food is an excellent candidate for the slosh treatment. This casserole is like a giant, 10-person burrito with your sides (black beans and rice) mixed right in. Its slice-and-spatula structure makes it perfect for potlucks, and people can pretty easily eat around any vegetables they may not like. The art of the slosh is not always pretty, but it’s got a delicious charm.
Jen Cantin recently graduated from Clark University in Worcester, Mass. with a degree in English and Journalism. She shares other (a)musings at Deep Fried Epiphany and dedicates this post to that time she first discovered cilantro.
Please make this casserole your own. The recipe below is only one version of ingredients I feel people usually enjoy. The casserole in the photograph uses salsa verde instead of regular salsa and has extra onions. Substitute ground beef, sliced steak or firm tofu for the chicken. Add jalapenos, corn or mushrooms. Do refried beans instead of black. This casserole is your 9″x13″ time to shine!
A few tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 bell pepper, roughly chopped
One 8oz block cream cheese, full or low-fat, softened
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 cup cooked rice, any variety
3 cups cooked chicken, seasoned to your liking and shredded or cut into one inch chunks — about 2 medium chicken breasts
One 16-ounce jar of your favorite salsa
One handful fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
One 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups shredded cheddar, monterey jack or Mexican blend cheese, divided
About 6 flour tortillas
Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
Saute onion and pepper in oil in a medium pan over medium heat until tender, about 5-8 minutes.
Put cream cheese in a medium bowl and add cumin, garlic powder, cayenne, salt and lime juice. Combine with a hand mixer or wooden spoon until seasonings are evenly distributed.
In a large bowl, combine rice, chicken, sauteed veggies, salsa, cilantro, beans and one cup of shredded cheese. Add the cream cheese mixture and incorporate. Try and distribute it as evenly as you can, but it will spread and melt in the oven, so don’t worry too much about it.
Spray a 9″x13″ baking dish with cooking spray. Cover the bottom of the dish in a single layer of tortillas. It’s okay if they overlap a little or if you have to tear them to fill any holes. Pour the contents of the large bowl into the baking dish and spread them out evenly. Top with another layer of tortillas, and top this with the remaining cup of cheese.
Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese on top is sufficiently melted.