Friday, October 22, 2004
TORTILLA BLACK-BEAN CASSEROLE
From The Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, this faux-Mexican lasagna is one of the old staples from my vegetarian days, exceedingly easy to make, unpretentious, fairly wholesome, and wholly yummy. A doesn’t even like black beans, but he still likes this casserole. I like it even more that I’m using stellar salsa (Trader Joe’s Salsa Especial—I’ll plug it every chance I get), and in addition to what's inside the casserole, I usually spoon more salsa over my serving before I eat it. For cheese, use whatever sounds good to you--I've used the plain Monterey Jack called for, and in a pinch I've turned to a pre-shredded four-cheese Mexican blend as well as plain grated cheddar, but my fave is freshly shredded jalapeno pepper Jack, which adds a nice kick. Use whatever color bell pepper you like, but I favor yellow for color contrast.
1 medium onions, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 medium bell pepper, chopped (about ¾ cup)
8 ounces canned chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup good salsa
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
6 (6-inch) flour tortillas
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large skillet, combine the onion, pepper, undrained tomatoes, salsa, cumin, and garlic. Bring this to boiling over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes. (It definitely doesn't hurt to cook it a little longer; personally, I like my onions nice and soft.) Add the rinsed, drained beans to the skillet, cook everything together briefly, then turn off the heat.
3. Get out a 9-inch square baking dish. Spread one-third of the bean mixture over the bottom of the dish. Top this with half of the tortillas, overlapping as necessary. (How I fit round tortillas in a square dish: I put one tortilla on, centered, in the middle. Then I cut two more tortillas in half, so I have four half-circular pieces, and I place the straight sides of these pieces so each one touches one of the four sides of the baking dish and the round parts meet in the center—tah dah, even tortilla coverage.) Top the tortillas with half of the cheese, then add another one-third of the bean mixture, the remaining tortillas, and then the remaining bean mixture.
3. Bake this, covered, in a 350-degree oven for 30-35 minutes, until it's heated through. Pull it out of the oven, sprinkle the top with the rest of the cheese, and let it stand about 10 minutes (or until the cheese is melted). Cut it into fourths and serve with additional salsa if desired.
Time: 1 hour