Monday, June 18, 2012

Main Dish--Vegetarian Style

Has this ever happened to anyone else?  You have a cookbook and every time you look through it, you think "Oh, that recipe looks so good.  I need to try it."  And then for some reason, you never end up trying that recipe.  Well, I had a recipe like that...I had seriously wanted to try it for at least 4 or 5 years.  Well, this month, I finally made it!

Now, there's nothing worse than greatly anticipating a recipe only to be disappointed.  But on the other hand, when the recipe is a good one, it was well worth the wait...and the only regret that you have is that you didn't make the recipe sooner!

Fortunately, this recipe was a good one.  And the great thing about this recipe is that it utilizes a lot of great pantry staples.  And since it is vegetarian, it is a pretty low-cost dish.  The recipe I am talking about is White Bean Enchiladas.

The second meat-free recipe I tried was Black-Black Bean Enchilada Casserole and it was great too.  It came from the same cookbook as the White Bean was on the facing page, but I never noticed it before (mostly because it didn't have a picture...ha ha!).  I happened to have pretty much all of the ingredients for that recipe, so that attracted my interest instantly.  :)  And it was a great recipe too!

You can make both of these ahead of time...up to a day ahead.  Just refrigerate until ready to put in the oven.  Here's my advice if you make it ahead...don't put the cheese on top until right before you put it in the oven.  I don't know why, but if you put the cheese on top and then put it in the fridge, the cheese doesn't melt the same.  It just doesn't melt very well.  So, trust me, add the cheese right when you put it in the oven and it will be nice and melty. (If you want to know what I mean, check out the pictures.  I put the cheese on the White Bean Enchiladas ahead of didn't melt as evenly and you can still see the individual shredded cheese.  I added the cheese on the Black-Bean Enchilada Casserole right before putting it in the oven and the cheese melted beautifully).

So, if you're looking to make dinners that you already have most, if not all, of the ingredients for, and if you want to save a few bucks by skipping the meat for a night, these are the recipes for you.  And trust me, you won't miss the meat.  These are delicious, filling, satisfying recipes and you'll leave the dinner table with a full belly.

White Bean Enchiladas


2 tablespoons fat-free sour cream
1 (16-ounce) can cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup (2 ounces) preshredded reduced-fat Mexican blend or Cheddar cheese, divded
2 tablespoons canned chopped green chiles
1 tablespoon sliced green onions
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 (10-ounce) can enchilada sauce (such as Old El Paso), divided
1/4 cup water
6 (6-inch) corn tortillas
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine sour cream and beans in a food processor; process until almost smooth.  Stir in 1/4 cup cheese, chiles, onions, chopped cilantro, and cumin.

Combine 1/3 cup enchilada sauce and 1/4 cup water in a small nonstick skillet over medium-low heat.  Dip 1 tortilla in sauce mixture to soften, and transfer to a plate.  Spread 1/ cup bean mixture down center of tortilla; roll up.  Place roll, seam side down, in an 11x7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Repeat procedure with remaining tortillas and bean mixture.  Add remaining sauce to pan; cook 1 minute.  Spoon over enchiladas; sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until bubbly.  Sprinkle with minced cilantro, if desired.

Yield: 3 servings (serving size: 2 enchiladas).

Recipe Notes: This easy enchilada casserole can be prepared up to 1 day ahead.  Since the enchiladas are baked in a baking dish, the casserole reheats well in the microwave too.

Nutrition information: 372 calories, 8 g fat, 17.5 g protein, 60.5 g carb, 6.2 g fiber, 3 mg chol, 1,076 sodium, 291 mg calc.

Source: Cooking Light Holiday Cookbook, 2005 Oxmoor House, Inc. ISBN: 0-8487-3004-6.

Notes: I followed this recipe as written, except that I doubled it and I added a little more sour cream than the recipe called for.  I served it with some sour cream, homemade guacamole, lettuce, shredded cheese, pico de gallo, and tortilla chips on the side.  Yum!

My only bone to pick with this recipe is a very trivial one and it has to do with aesthetics.  If you're like me, corn tortillas aren't super pliable all the time.  I dipped the corn tortillas in the enchilada sauce, filled them and rolled them...and most of them split.  That's just the story with corn tortillas.  They don't roll as easily as flour tortillas.  As a result, they don't serve up as easily as flour tortilla enchiladas either.  So, they tasted fantastic, but they weren't as pretty as enchiladas made with flour tortillas.  So, not a big deal.  Just something to be aware of.  If you wanted them to look prettier, you could make them with flour tortillas...but I really think the corn tortillas added such a great flavor to the recipe.  I'd prefer to have less than perfect enchiladas in the looks department in this case because the corn tortillas make for the perfect flavor combination.

Black-Bean Enchilada Casserole


1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese, divided
1 cup cooked brown basmati rice or long-grain rice
1 cup fat-free sour cream
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup chopped green onions
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 (19-ounce) can red enchilada sauce
Cooking spray
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine 1/2 cup cheese, rice, and next 7 ingredients in a large bowl. Spread 1/4 cup enchilada sauce in an 11x7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Heat remaining enchilada sauce in a skillet 2 minutes or until warm; remove from heat. Dredge both sides of 6 tortillas in warm sauce; arrange tortillas, overlapping, over sauce in baking dish.  Top with 1 3/4 cups bean mixture. Dredge both sides of remaining tortillas in warm sauce; arrange tortillas, overlapping, over bean mixture. Top with remaining bean mixture, remaining sauce, and 1/2 cup cheese. Bake at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes or until bubbly.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 [3 1/2 inch] square).

Nutrition information: 323 calories, 7.2 g fat, 16.1 g protein, 49.5 g carb, 5.5 g fiber, 12 mg chol, 2.5 mg iron, 683 mg sodium, 269 mg calc.

Source: Cooking Light Holiday Cookbook, 2005 Oxmoor House, Inc. ISBN: 0-8487-3004-6.

Notes: I followed the recipe as written (I didn't double it).  But, I think I misunderstood the recipe.  I think the recipe was calling for 1 cup of cooked brown rice.  I was in a hurry when I made it, so I cooked 1 cup of dried rice as directed by the package and added all of that to the casserole.  After being cooked, it was probably a little over 2 cups of rice.  So, I think it made for a much thicker/taller casserole than the original recipe intended.  But it still tasted fantastic, so I guess the amount of rice that you want to use is up to you!

Also, I think for this recipe, I would buy two cans of enchilada sauce just in case.  I think I poured a little too much enchilada sauce on the bottom of the baking dish...and then my corn tortillas completely soaked up the rest of the enchilada sauce.  I had to dip about 4 of the tortillas in water because I had run out of enchilada sauce at that point.  Oops!  So, I didn't have any extra enchilada sauce to pour over the top of the casserole either.  If I'd had an extra can, I definitely would have made use of it for this dish.  But even without it, the casserole turned out just fine and tasted great.

Oh, and I served ours with a dollop of sour cream and additional cilantro.  That wasn't part of the recipe, but I would highly suggest it!  It was delicious that way.  You could also serve it with some salsa on top as well.


  1. Yum, they look good. But I'm not sure Niel would go for vegetarian. Maybe if I stuck some Mexican grilled chicken on the side?

  2. Niel's funny. I would bet that he wouldn't even notice that there wasn't any meat in these recipes unless you pointed it out to him. But if you thought he would notice, I would suggest adding some poached, chopped chicken into the fillings of each recipe.