I don’t make many “casseroles”. I have this childhood church potluck memory of those mysterious casseroles that some kind chef found on the back of a cereal box and thought it would be perfectly easy to prepare the night before. While that chef was right, I always found the cream-of-something doused noodles or rice and mysterious meat with broken flakes of corn cereal on top never really cut it for me. I understand the need for a quick and easy meal that can be prepped ahead of time and baked at the last minute. I am a full-time student, have two dogs, one Philosopher, plenty of friends, and a 20-hour workweek. One of my favorite go-to meals for this purpose has always been enchiladas. There are tons of ways to fill them, allowing your creativity to take over and they prep ahead of time allowing for a spouse who is busy philosophizing to to bake while you are on your way home from school/work/dog walking/friend visiting/etc. The most crucial element to my enchiladas is the sauce. I use my More-with-Less cookbook for this recipe and it’s really easy. Any home cooks that are good at ‘doctoring up’ their spaghetti sauce can handle this task.
2 T oil
1 onion, minced
Saute in a heavy saucepan until yellow.
1 28 oz can of tomato sauce or puree
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2T chili powder
1/4 t dried oregano
1 t salt
1 bay leaf
Add to onion. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Stir frequently. The recipe says to put this through a strainer, but I always skip that. Just pull out the bay leaf and you are set!
As I mentioned, this is the sauce but the actual filling is up to you.
I roasted the butternut squash in the oven. Just slice the squash in half, remove the seeds and put in a 13×9 inch pan with about 1/2 inch of water. Bake in oven at 350 until tender (about 30 minutes). My mother often microwaves a squash as it is quicker. You can also peel and slice the squash into 1″ pieces, this will bake really quickly. Basically, be free to soften a squash in any way you want.
I also cleaned the seeds and roasted them at the same time. I added about 1T of vegetable oil and a dash of seasoning salt. I watched and stirred them often. They took about 10-15 minutes to toast up.
I made black beans from dried beans in my pressure cooker. This summer my CSA offered a ton of hot peppers each week. I chose more than I needed, sliced, and froze them. I pulled out about one pepper’s worth, added one onion, one clove of garlic, cumin, cilantro, and chili powder and cooked the beans. I made an entire pound of beans so I can make soup later this week. If you want more information about cooking beans in the pressure cooker check this out.
You could also open a can of beans, rinse them well in a strainer, and add seasonings. I would suggest 1/2 t cumin and 1 t of chili powder. You can adjust those to taste (especially for spice preference). I bought a bunch of cilantro and added all the good leaves to the squash and beans. I also added about 1 T of lime juice (I used bottled, but fresh would be great!)
Next, roll the mixture up in tortillas and line them up in a 13×9 inch pan. I always spread a little sauce on the bottom of the pan first to keep them from sticking. Pour the rest of the sauce on top, try to get it in between the enchiladas and top with cheese, if you want. At this point you can stop, refrigerate the enchiladas and bake in a day or so. When you are ready, bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese has melted.
I topped my enchiladas with a dollop of greek yogurt and the roasted seeds. The play of the sweet squash against the spicy beans and sauce was fantastic. It was a fantastically filling and deliciously healthy meal served best with a cold beer or a warm glass of red wine.
I often make this simply with refried beans and cheese. When I have other veggies, they get thrown inside. Zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, onions, other members of the squash family…the sky is the limit! Again you should remember that the sauce is the key. Don’t get tricked into buying that canned “enchilada sauce” stuff. This is super easy and delicious. Lastly, the leftovers are great!