Simple Vegan Enchilada Casserole
Having a go-to casserole in your dinner routine is absolutely critical for busy weeknights. Enchiladas can be a simple and healthy casserole option by skipping the meat and cheese and instead using them as a vehicle for plant based proteins and veggies. This Simple Vegan Enchilada Casserole was created to boost up vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. On top of all those health benefits it also packs plenty of flavor and can be completely homemade in just minutes with whole-food ingredients.
The Benefits of Simple Casseroles
We all know how busy the weeknights can get: finishing up work, cleaning up the house, fitting in a workout and taking care of kids, pets, or other family members! When your life gets hectic it can be tempting to order out or turn to premade frozen meals. While it’s great to enjoy your local restaurants, these habits can become expensive and add unnecessary sodium to your daily dinners. That’s why having some go to simple casseroles in your dinner arsenal is key. The stress relief of having something homemade and super easy on hand is so invaluable.
Meals like these come together quickly, require only one dish and can be prepared ahead of time. They’re an easy way to get your protein and veggies in with minimal effort. I also want to get back into packing lunches at work, so for me this means making extra dinner the night before or preparing large dishes such as this Simple Vegan Enchilada Casserole. Even if you are only feeding one or two people you will have leftovers in the fridge that will last for days. Meal prep for the win!
If you’re into meal prep, you absolutely need my book Anti-Inflammatory Diet Meal Prep. And if you need more ideas, I’ve got so many on the blog. Try a casserole for breakfast like this Healthy Pumpkin Pie Breakfast Bake.
My enchilada casserole is vegetarian/vegan friendly and includes lots of veggies like fresh spinach, tomato, cilantro and corn. I live in the Pacific Northwest so when the ingredients are in season I will use fresh and local but this recipe can also support canned and frozen foods so you can make it all year long. This casserole is made even more simple by using pre-made corn tortillas, canned refried beans and nutritional yeast for some plant-based cheesiness.
Do you feel guilty using somewhat prepared ingredients like that in your cooking? Don’t! Whatever gets you cooking at home more is good in my book. There’s such a range of preferences from cooking everything from scratch to super quick and easy. It just depends what’s best for you and your family.
Why Frozen or Canned Veggies?
Frozen and canned foods actually maintain their nutrients quite well. This is because they are frozen at peak ripeness with all of the nutrients and flavor at their best. These options are also often more affordable and convenient than using fresh. If you are someone who finds their vegetables going bad before you get the chance to use them frozen might be a great option to try!
Frozen vegetables store for a long time and are easy to throw into any dish to boost nutrition. Personally, I like to use a variety of foods – fresh and processed – but I’m really open to what’s going to be easiest for me to get a homemade meal made at my house quickly.
What is Nutritional Yeast?
A fun ingredient in this casserole is nutritional yeast, which is a common vegan alternative to cheese due to its natural cheesy flavor. It can be described as a savory, umami, salty yeast that doesn’t rise like bread yeast. It can be used in so many ways like in this Simple Vegan Enchilada Casserole recipe, vegan “cheese” sauces and even sprinkled on popcorn. If you want to experiment more with nutritional yeast I use it here in my Hasselback Potatoes with Cheesy Vegan Sauce and Everything Tahini Citrus Sauce.
Health Benefits of Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast is a great addition to a plant based diet because it often contains a range of B vitamins, most importantly B12. On its own, nutritional yeast doesn’t contain B12 – a nutrient critical for vegans and vegetarians who don’t eat meat, seafood or eggs, but it’s almost always fortified. Read the label to make sure that your nutritional yeast is fortified, especially if you follow a plant based diet without any other sources of B12.
How to Make The Simple Vegan Enchilada Casserole
This Simple Vegan Enchilada Casserole comes together quickly and requires minimal prep work thanks to its short ingredients list and use of pre-made ingredients. If you are using fresh vegetables you will need to set aside a little extra time to prep the ingredients for this Simple Vegan Enchilada Casserole. This includes chopping the onion, tomato, spinach, cilantro and corn if you are using fresh corn cobs. If you opt to use frozen or canned veggies it will make your life even easier because you will only need to simply combine the ingredients in a bowl.
With busy nights and saving time in mind, this simple casserole can easily be prepped ahead of time and kept in the fridge until you are ready to bake it. This makes for a quick and healthy dinner that is ready to go on busy evenings. Consider making a dish like this on the weekend so you’ve got food at the ready during the week. You just need to follow the recipe steps 1-3, just up until baking. Cover the dish with foil and it is ready to pop in the oven so you can focus on everything else you need to get done in your busy evening for the next 45 minutes!
Keep in mind that it can be hard to find a healthy enchilada sauce at the store as many of them have sugar or unhealthy oils in them. You can easily make your own; see my post on Simple Enchilada Sauce.
Enjoy this simple dish!
Simple Enchilada Casserole
- 12 4- inch corn tortillas, cut in half
- 16 ounces enchilada sauce (or try my simple enchilada sauce!)
- 1 can vegetarian refried beans
- 1 cup yellow corn (fresh or frozen)
- 1 tomato, diced
- ½ yellow onion, chopped
- ¾ cup nutritional yeast
- 1 1/2 cups chopped fresh spinach
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x12 glass casserole pan with canola or olive oil spray. Set cut tortillas to the side of the dish.
- Combine the corn, onions and tomato in a medium bowl.
- Pour a portion of enchilada sauce in the baking dish to coat the bottom completely (about 1/2 cup). Place 3 whole tortillas (6 halves) on top of the enchilada sauce. Layer 1/2 the refried beans then 1/2 the corn, onion, tomato mixture. Sprinkle with 1/2 the nutritional yeast, and then 1/2 the spinach. Repeat with a layer of tortillas then beans, corn, onion, tomato mixture, yeast and spinach. Top with remaining tortilla halves and then the remainder of enchilada sauce.
- Cover loosely with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro and additional chopped tomato if desired.
Ginger Hultin,MS, RD, CSO
Thanks for visiting! If you’re like me: obsessed with eating, wine, going out and traveling, you’re in the right place. Champagne Nutrition® LLC is a Registered Dietitian-run concierge virtual practice helping clients look and feel better. On this blog, you’ll ﬁnd cocktails, mocktails, and plant-based recipes that are easy to make quickly at home and pack for leftovers on your adventures.