My earliest recollection of any southwestern or Mexican food was when I was in the fourth grade and my mom brought home from the grocery store, the newly-marketed Old El Paso Taco Kit. She was very excited to introduce me to Tacos. My parents had previously lived in El Paso, Texas when my dad was in the Air Force. It was there that my mom grew to love the flavor of Mexican food.
I know it sounds sort of strange that I was in the fourth grade before I knew what a taco was, but back in the mid-70’s, here in the South, we did not have Taco Bell’s and Mexican Restaurants on every corner as we do now. In fact, we rarely ate out at all. My mother cooked a meal every evening and it usually consisted of a meat and 2 vegetables. Nothing near as exciting as Tacos. 🙂
I am positive that I inherited my mom’s taste buds and her love of southwestern flavors and spicy food. This Mexican casserole ticks all the boxes for me when it comes to flavor. The garlic, tomatoes, onion, green chilies and spices make my palate so happy, happy, happy.
The beans, corn, olives and chicken add protein, fiber and nutrition that many Mexican dishes lack. The Food For Life Sprouted Corn Tortillas in this dish add another level of nutrition. They are made from freshly sprouted 100% organic whole kernel corn…. No corn meal or corn flour involved and they are much better than empty-calorie processed flour tortillas.
The fact that this is a one-dish meal makes it super easy to prepare ahead of time and freeze. You can also put this meal together very quickly on a weeknight, throw in a green salad and feel good about serving a healthy clean meal to your family. That is important if you are like me and work away from the home. The leftovers are amazing for lunch the next day too!
This casserole was inspired by another recipe that I found on www.cleancuisineandmore.com It was actually a crock pot meal. This recipe is pretty much the same as the crock pot version except that I changed a couple of ingredients and made it into a layered casserole, which cuts down on the cooking time.
I hope you’ll give this uniquely Southwestern meal a try. It packs flavor with little effort. Enjoy with a lovely pitcher of fresh Sangria this weekend!
|Mexican Chicken Casserole|| |
- 1 Tbsp. of organic cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil
- 5 cloves of garlic, crushed
- I package of sprouted corn tortilla's (I used Food for Life brand)
- 1 organic sweet yellow onion, chopped
- 1 organic green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 24.6 oz. box of Pomi chopped tomatoes
- 1 15 oz. can of Tomato sauce
- 1- 4 oz. can of chopped green chilies
- 1 tsp. of cumin
- 1 tsp. of smoked paprika
- ½- 1 tsp. of cayenne pepper (according to taste)
- Salt to taste (I used approximately 1-2 tsp.)
- 2½ cups of shredded organic/pastured chicken (I used a rotisserie chicken from the market deli to save time)
- 1 can of organic pinto beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can of organic black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1½ cups of frozen organic corn (May use canned if you prefer)
- 1 can of sliced black olives
- 1 package of sprouted corn tortillas
- ¾ - 1 cup of shredded grass fed sharp cheddar cheese
- Fresh cilantro and avocado to garnish
- Heat the oil in a large sauce pan over medium to high heat.
- Add chopped onions, bell pepper and garlic and cook stirring often until softened. Approximately 5-7 minutes.
- Pour in the box of chopped tomatoes, tomato sauce, green chilies and stir to mix well with the other vegetables.
- Add the cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne and salt to taste. Stir well and reduce heat to low.
- Allow the tomato mixture to simmer for 15 minutes. While simmering, shred chicken and grate the cheese.
- To assemble the casserole, ladle ⅓ of the tomato mixture into the bottom of a 9 X 13 casserole dish. Then add a layer of chicken, ⅓ of the beans, corn and black olives.
- Next you will place the corn tortilla layer. You will need to cut one tortilla in half in order to cover all the vegetables as shown in the photo.
- Repeat the layers again and then a third time, but on the last layer do not put the corn tortillas on top
- Cover the casserole dish with foil and place into a 400 degree F. oven for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, uncover and place the cheese on top and return to over for another 5-7 minutes until cheese melts and casserole starts to bubble.
- Remove and allow to cool slightly.
- Serve immediately and garnish with fresh cilantro and fresh avocado.