Mexican Corn Tortilla Casserole

I remember the first night living in a small village in Thailand (no, I didn’t have a Mexican Corn Tortilla Casserole). Normally in small villages in Thailand there are at least noodle stands in someone’s front lawn (think ‘lemonade for sale’ but on a slightly bigger scale).  However, when I landed in Ban Chaleang, there was nothing but dusty roads for as long as I could see.

The main drag…DSC01664

Lucky and pals on our afternoon walk…
CK's visit July 2006 (13)

What the hell was I supposed to eat for dinner?  I remember my Thai mother (we just met 3 hours earlier, and I was already calling her ‘mom’) brought her friends over and some vegetables, and they stared as I tried to make dinner.  They didn’t really know what to do with a vegan, or else they would have had me over for some ant eggs, fish heads, or how about this… yes, that’s dinner.

yai puts them in cold water

I’m sure they still laugh about it today.  Let’s just say from that moment forward I made it my mission to learn how to cook during my 2 years in Thailand.  I spent lots of time in the kitchen (or outside on the patio) with a notepad watching my friends cook and taking notes furiously.

My Thai Mother making curry paste… CK's visit July 2006 (84)

Mah showing me the way….
CK's visit July 2006 (85)

My other ‘Mah’ making curry paste.
maah g'ja makes pret gang

The beauty of Thai cooking is that nothing is really measured; they cook by taste.  There are no recipes, cookbooks, or blogs to cite.  They throw things in a wok or pot and taste till they get it just right.

This is how Thais “bake” …. in bamboo and in the ground.

DSCN2106DSCN2107DSCN2111DSCN2115

What I learned in the Thai kitchen has really helped me in the comfort of my kitchen back in the states.  Although I might need to move to France to learn how to bake.  I didn’t master the bamboo in the ground “baking” method.

From Thailand to Mexican Food….

Tonight’s dinner, though inspired from two different recipes, was not one that was preciously measured and calculated.  Through the skills and confidence I learned in the Thai kitchen, I can now cook.  I don’t just follow recipes, I am confident to throw things together, taste as I go, and normally they turn out pretty good.

At least Dave approves.  Lucky too!

Mexican Corn Tortilla Casserole

DSC00883

Serves 4
Inspired from Health Tipping Point’s Corn Tortilla Casserole and Oh She Glow’s Mexican Tortilla Pie

Since this was a throw together type of meal, there really are no precise measurements.  I’ve listed things with approximates.

Ingredients
12 6-inch corn tortillas (I used Food for Life’s Sprouted Corn Tortillas)
1/2 onion, diced
1 can black beans, drained
2 cups Spinach (approximately)
3 T Hummus (approximately)
1 cup Nutritional Yeast
1 cup Salsa (approximately)
1 cup Enchilada Sauce (approximately)

Before baking….DSC00882

Directions
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Grease an 8×8 casserole dish, and layer with four corn tortillas.
3.  Build your first layer:
– spread 1/3 the amount of hummus
– sprinkle 1/3 the amount of nutritional yeast
– lay 1/3 the amount of spinach
– sprinkle 1/3 the amount of onion
– sprinkle 1/3 the amount of black beans
– and top with 1/3 the amount of salsa
4.  Lay four more corn tortillas and repeat step 3.
5.  Repeat step 4, so you have three levels and then top with enchilada sauce.
6.  Cover with tin foil and bake for 45 minutes.

Ready for my belly…
DSC00886

Enjoy!

Eat well,
Carolyn

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9 Comments

Filed under Casseroles, Main Course

9 responses to “Mexican Corn Tortilla Casserole

  1. I can not even tell what that is that she’s holding there. It looks like a dirty rag or possibly a rat. Do tell!

    Also, I am very curious about your eating habits over the time you were in Thailand. I am a vegetarian and I found it difficult (though not impossible) to eat during my one month there. I essentially ate eggs, vegetables, and rice for a month straight (and I felt terrible.) Did you continue eating vegan while living there, or did you find yourself eating animal products? If you did not eat animal products, how did you manage? I feel silly asking the “but what do you eat?” question, but it is different in Thailand and I really want to know. :)

    • You got it. That is a rat. And let me tell you the big uproar when the farm truck came stampeding through the village on the day the men cam back from catching the rats. It was a big day, and many families were very proud of their catch.

      The first year I was a vegetarian and was eating entirely too many fried eggs, fried rice, lots of things dripping in grease, and the typical white rice. I gained weight fast and felt disgusting. When I decided to stop eating dairy, it really took a strong effort on my part. I did isolate myself some since eating is such a big part of Thai culture. There were, though, a couple people in town (I was out in the village) who were vegan and even a vegan restaurant sprang up during my time there. It actually brought some awareness to the community and a little “it’s cool to eat healthy” thing started to happen.

      So what did I eat once I gave up dairy…. lots and lots and lots of fruit. I had coconuts, mangoes, and bananas in my yard. My friends brought over bags of fruit from their farms or trees. I made lots of salads since my neighbor grew organic lettuce and let me pick it at my whim. I also ate som-tom all.the.time. and I love sticky rice.

      As far as Thai meals… my favorite meals are pumpkin curry, Mushroom tom-yom, and cucumbers stir-fried in curry paste.

      • Terry

        So….have just looked through this quickly so I’ve probably missed some areas…..but it brings it all home….you must have been in the Peace Corps? Learning to cook in Thailand by being part of my host family but also living with Thai Ajaans…..standing around taking notes while they three random things in the woks and pots and laughed when I would ask….well, what’s the exact measurement for how much fish sauce or sugar or……….This has all stayed with me forever! I still now cook by more intuitive knowing that I know is actually healthier…..and have expanded too. Sometimes I’m not sure, when I make a dish, and when I add Korean Kim Chi to the mix…..or whatever…just how one would label it all! So fun! And, when I was in Thailand as well, they would look at me like I was a crazy “farang” and then go about fixing the most scrumptious dishes ever!

      • Yes, I was in the Peace Corps. Were you? If not, what were you doing in Thailand and where were you?
        Thanks for reading!
        Carolyn

  2. Will DEFINITELY try the recipe and I happen to have some fresh corn tortillas here from a local Mexican market. Boo-ya! What I really wanted to say however, is that I loved today’s parable. I can relate to this one particularly from my travels in the Philippines and having to fend for myself for my meals. I may have to resurrect that story for my own blog. Too bad, I wasn’t as successful in the kitchen though.

  3. Looks yummy! This may sound silly but I’m a little intrigued by the nutritional yeast… I’ve never seen it in a recipe before until your blog, and in the picture it looks a little like it makes the dish rise like eggs would. I’m guessing it has less cholesterol though and is healthier. I think I will try this recipe soon. Man your blog is going to keep me busy.

  4. Hi there! I love your blog! I gave you a stylish blogger award on my blog. :) http://amileinmyboots05.blogspot.com/2011/03/i-won-two-awards.html

  5. Pingback: Saturday Market & Catching Up! | Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well.

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