I stumbled across this recipe looking for a way to use up a can of red kidney beans opened in error. I like beans, so finding new ways to cook with them is a fun culinary quest. Chilaquiles [tchee/lah/KEE/lehs] is a novel dish I found in Quick Vegetarian Pleasures [QVP] (Jeanne Lemlin, Harper Collins, 1992, page 163). Their description calls Chilaquiles a Mexican lasagna-like dish.
However, in researching the proper pronunciation of the word, I discovered this recipe bears little resemblance to the authentic Mexican breakfast/brunch dish of the same name. The more traditional Mexican dish uses the same layers of corn tortilla strips (but fried), salsa and grated cheese and/or cream but includes cooked eggs.
The QVP recipe makes a great evening meal and easily reheats for subsequent servings. Individual portions of this recipe can also be frozen, unlike the traditional Mexican dish which appears to resemble a breakfast fry-up.
I found the Chilaquiles a hearty, tasty meal with just the tiniest bit of zip (akin to a tingle of your lips). It’s great to have a new dish to add to my vegetarian repertoire. Uncertain whether I’d like it well enough to eat the four servings of the original recipe, I made a full batch of the chile sauce. I used only half of it to make a smaller casserole dish for my meal and I still ended up with three large servings. The rest of the chile sauce made a great dip for tortillas chips as a snack. Or make the full recipe (increased amounts given inside square brackets) in a 10 x 10 x 2″ or 12 x 7 x 2″ casserole dish and take it to a potluck dinner.
CHILAQUILES Makes: 3 large servings
- 1.5 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 onions, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 – 28 oz (796 mL) can tomatoes, finely chopped plus the liquid
- 1 – 16 oz (540 mL) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 – 4 oz (118 mL) can mild green chiles, minced and drained
- 6  small corn tortillas, cut into 1 – 2″ strips
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) [1 cup] sour cream
- 1.25 cups (284 mL) [2.5 cups/568 mL] grated Monterey Jack cheese about 4  oz or 113  g.
- If you can’t find Monterey Jack, substitute a mild cheddar.
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 9 x 5 x 2″ casserole dish with oil.
2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the onions and garlic and saute for about 10 minutes or until the onions are tender.
3. Stir in the tomatoes and their juice, the chiles and the red kidney beans. Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the juices begin to thicken. Remove from heat.
4. Reserve 1/3 to half of the chile sauce for another use. (Serve with tortilla chips as a snack.) Of the remaining sauce, spread half of it evenly over the bottom of your lasagna pan.
5. Top the sauce with half of the corn tortillas strips, laying them like lasagna noodles, first in one direction and then the other. Spread half the sour cream over the tortilla layer and half the cheese.
6. Create the next layer with the second half of the corn tortilla strips, the remaining sauce, sour cream and cheese.
7. Bake in pre-heated 350 F oven for 35 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. The cheese layer will be golden and a little crusty.
I prepared a quick guacamole with a chopped avocado, diced tomato, garlic, salt and pepper and a squirt of cilantro (from a tube). It was a great complement to Chilaquiles along with a frosty lager.
Subsequent servings are best reheated covered with foil in a 350 F oven. If frozen, allow to thaw in the fridge overnight or in the microwave on 60% power for 3.5 – 4 minutes before re-heating in the oven.