Black Bean Enchalasagna
During my final year of teaching preschool, one of my favorite curriculum units was a month spent on food, nutrition, and cooking. As an ongoing activity that month, my preschoolers and I created a class cookbook. I sat down with each of the children individually and asked them how they thought that their favorite foods were prepared. These “recipes” that were shared by the children were then interspersed throughout the book along with the family recipes that were contributed by their parents .
One of my favorites out of the all the childrens’ recipes was Anthony’s version of how to make pizza: You cook it and you put pepperoni on it and when really, really hot you cut it in half. You can even share it with your family, too. You cook it in the oven for 35 hundred miles for an hour. You can start cooking now or tomorrow. It’s super, duper, duper hot! You eat it and then when the pizza is done you throw it away if you don’t like it.
Or how about Jake’s simple recipe for bacon: Cook it in a pan. You put the cover on . Steam comes out and then you eat it.
Then there’s Abby’s pancakes: You cook them in the oven a lot of time. It’s really hot. I put sugar on them. And when my Dad comes down in the early morning he keeps eating ALL the pancakes. That’s just how I make pancakes.
And, of course, Samantha’s chicken nuggets: You cook them in the oven. It’s like super duper hot and it makes my nuggets go super duper hot and they could burn my hands when I start to eat. You cook them for, like, twenty minutes or two minutes. We have to wait and wait while we’re watching TV and then we have to go and eat when our mom calls us and then we eat it.
: : : : : :
Jack’s mother submitted a recipe for her “Black Bean Enchilasagne” that sounded so good that I had to try for myself a few days later. Since that day, this has become one of my family’s favorite recipes. It’s such an intriguing twist on a classic lasagna, and is embarrassingly easy to put together.
It calls for canned of black beans, but I’ve been substituting dried, using this method of preparing the beans ahead of time. Using dried beans rather than canned has been saving us money, cutting down on the amount of sodium we consume, and helping us avoid the possibility of BPA contamination from the lining in cans.
: : : : : :
- 1/2 pound shredded cheddar or unseasoned Mexican-blend cheese
- I can or jar green enchilada sauce (I prefer the green, but other versions will add their own twist to this dish)
- 1 cup salsa (you can tweak the level of heat depending upon the salsa you choose)
- 1 Tbsp. cumin
- 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
- 6-10 corn tortillas (must be corn tortillas, not flour)
- Black beans — either 2 cans drained & rinsed or 3 1/2 cups cooked dried beans
- At least 1/2 pound shredded cheese — either cheddar or unseasoned Mexican-blend cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If using a non-stoneware casserole dish, lightly grease with cooking spray.
- Cut tortillas into wedges (my original recipe says to use 12 corn tortillas…I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, but I only use between six and ten when I make this recipe. I don’t know if I’m making less layers, or not jamming enough tortilla wedges into each layer…so your mileage may vary).
- In a small saucepan, combine enchilada sauce, salsa, cumin and garlic powder, just until warm. Remove from heat.
- Spoon just enough sauce in the casserole dish to cover the bottom. Arrange enough tortilla slices over sauce to cover. Add a layer of beans, then a layer of cheese. Repeat layers until everything is used up, finishing with a layer of sauce and cheese.
- Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for ten minutes before serving.