Photo and column by Lindsay Kucera/The AS Review

Enchiladas are one of my favorite entrées in this whole wide world and I simply cannot get enough of them. So, when I was introduced to this dish—tortilla casserole—I was more than a little excited. Let’s face it. I was giddy, overjoyed even. Corn tortillas are layered like lasagna noodles over rice, beans and spiced vegetables, filled with delicious enchilada sauce and cheese.  To me, this dish seemed to say “Lasagna, meet enchiladas. Enchiladas, meet lasagna. Be friends forever!” and so it was.  It’s pretty hard to resist, though I would never challenge you to try. But it’s futile, just so you know.

Costs: $15.50
Makes: Four to six servings

Ingredients:
6 cloves garlic
1/2 red onion
One bell pepper, red or orange
1/2 to one small yellow squash
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 12 oz. can refried beans
1 12 oz. can enchilada sauce
1-2 cups instant brown rice, cooked
1-2 tomatoes, diced
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
6-8 corn tortillas
Vegetable oil
Sour cream, avocado for garnish

Directions: In a medium skillet, heat a few tablespoons of vegetable oil. Roughly chop garlic, onion, bell pepper and squash. Sauté the vegetables with the cumin and chili powder over medium-high heat until cooked through, between seven and 10 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the heat, and then set aside in a bowl. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, careful not to burn yourself.  Coat the bottom of the pan with more vegetable oil and heat to high. Cook the corn tortillas for between five and seven seconds on each side, setting on paper towels to remove excess oil. In a small bowl, mix the brown rice with about one quarter of the enchilada sauce and all of the diced tomatoes, adding spices to taste.

In a greased casserole dish, put down a layer of tortillas, a layer of refried beans, rice and then a layer of vegetables. Drizzle some enchilada sauce over the veggies, and then top with a layer of cheese. Cover with another layer of tortillas. Repeat this process once more, topping again with tortillas. Finally, coat the top layer liberally with enchilada sauce, and more spice if you wish. Bake for 15-17 minutes at 350 F. Remove and top with the rest of the cheese, then bake for an additional five minutes. Serve with sour cream or avocado, with a side of rice and beans or salad.