This Mexican Casserole is made healthy with quinoa and pumpkin seeds. It's a perfect main or side dish for football parties or lazy summer evenings.
Mexican food is a big favorite in our family, and when everyone visits, it's one of my go-to dishes guaranteed to make everyone of all ages happy at the table. That's code for “life-saver dish”.
Casseroles are a win in many kitchens because of their flexibility and make-ahead-ability, and this healthy Mexican casserole is no different.
Ideas for Mexican Casserole Flexibility
If you want to spice it up a bit, add a Serrano or poblano pepper.
Want more corn? Just pile a little more in.
Switch out black beans for pintos if that's your preference. Or use a combination of both.
Kids don't want quinoa? Substitute your favorite rice.
If you're in a rush, use a pre-packaged Mexican grated cheese mix.
Perfect Party Food
When I look for party food for large gatherings, I look for dishes that can be made ahead and are easily transportable. And because I tend to bring vegetarian dishes to pot-luck parties, I bring something that can be used as a vegetarian main dish or a side dish for the omnivores in the crowd.
This dish checks all those boxes.
If you plan to take it to a party, make it ahead only for Step 1. Before serving, bring the dish to room temperature, spread on the last half of the cheese and bake long enough to warm up the casserole and melt the cheese. If the casserole is cold, reheat it without the extra cheese and then add the cheese for a final 5-minute bake.
Serve it as-is for a main or side dish.
Add some cheese and serve with chips for a hearty dip. The cheese will hold it together better on the chips.
Spoon some into tacos, and top with shredded cabbage, pickled onions and a scoop of guacamole.
Add shredded chicken or pork for a hearty omnivore dish.
Mexican Casserole Quick Prep Shortcuts
I either have a jar of quinoa in the refrigerator I've already cooked up, or a package of store-bought frozen quinoa. Even though quinoa cooks up pretty quickly, the triple rinse of the seeds to remove the saponins covering adds a little time to the overall prep.
Part of my pantry also always includes a stash of cooked beans. I used to make them on the stove top every week, and then switched to the slow cooker as it's more hands off. Now I make them in my electric pressure cooker.
If you want to move to a more vegetarian diet, but not sure the best steps to take, join the Monthly Vegetarian Meals Challenge. Each month I'll post some tips – great plant protein sources, must-haves for the vegetarian pantry, ways to build flavor, and more. Additionally, we tackle 1 – 3 seasonal recipes tied to the theme that month. Subscribe to Monthly Vegetarian Meals Challenge.
Healthy Mexican Casserole with Quinoa
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 2 cups cooked black beans
- 1 cup corn kernels
- 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 1 yellow bell pepper diced
- 1/3 cup chopped red onion
- 1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice 1 lime
- 1 teaspoon Spanish paprika I use Pimentón Ahumado Smoked Paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 cup grated Fresca Oaxaca Mexican cheese
- 1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
- 1 tablespoon lightly salted pumpkin seeds
- Preheat the oven to 400˚ F. Combine all of the ingredients together, except 1/4 cup of EACH cheese, in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly with a large spoon. Pour it all into a 9″ X 11″ casserole dish and bake for 30 minutes.
- Spread the remaining cheese on the top of the casserole, and bake for another 5 minutes.
- Serve warm.