Quesadilla casserole (4 servings)

One of the only things I miss about eating meat is sinking my teeth into the chewy, juicy, cheesy layers of a good casserole. It's tough to find a vegetarian equivalent of that experience, I've found. However, Rachael Ray's quesadilla casserole comes pretty damn close. I am in love with this recipe. I would be happy to make it every week. It's a tad time-consuming to put together, but it isn't difficult. I made some slight changes, which are included in the recipe below.

You will need:

  • 2-3 Tbsp canola oil
  • small onion, cut in half from end to stem and then sliced into thin half moons
  • 2 15-oz cans of black beans, drained and 1/2 cup liquid reserved
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed (just rinse under warm water)
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • a few dashes of hot sauce (optional)
  • 3 10-inch flour tortillas (burrito size, I believe)
  • 8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 can enchilada sauce (I used mild red)

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Spray a large, oven-proof skillet with non-stick spray and set aside.
  2. In another skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until nice and browned. (I think it took 8-10 minutes.) Remove from heat. Add 1 1/2 cups of the black beans and mash into a chunky paste; stir in the reserved liquid.
  3. In a bowl, combine the remaining black beans, corn, parsley, tomato, and hot sauce.
  4. Place a tortilla in the bottom of the oven-proof skillet and top with 1/3 of the onion mixture. Then top that with 1/3 of the corn mixture and 1/3 of the cheese.
  5. Layer another tortilla on top of that, press it down a bit, and repeat with 1/3 of the onion mixture, the corn mixture, and the cheese. Repeat this step once more.
  6. Pop the skillet in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, or until heated through. The cheese should be nice and melty melty (it's a technical term). If you can, slide it out of the skillet and onto a place so you can cut it into pie-like slices. Top each slice with a drizzle of enchilada sauce.

I was happy with how colorful this turned out! The original recipe doesn't call for tomato, but I think it really added something. Also, the recipe called for more layers, but I was lazy and found it easier to break the mixtures into even thirds anyway. You could stick the skillet under the broiler for the last minute or two, but I hate heating up the broiler to use it for such a short amount of time. I don't think it was missing anything by skipping the broiler step. Also, I doubt I ended up using the full 8 ounces of cheese. I just grabbed a handful or two to top each layer without measuring it. This dish is hearty and satisfying, and I can't wait to make it again. I'd love to make it with fresh corn sometime. This is a great end-of-summer recipe.