Recently, a client brought me a recipe from Cooking Light magazine that looked good as far as flavors go. After following Cooking Light’s recipe exactly, I changed some ingredients to be more to my client’s liking and ended up with a delicious, flavorful and pleasing casserole that was even a wee bit healthier than the Cooking Light version. Mine also had stronger flavor to make it tastier.
My version began with Cooking Light’s Tortilla Chip Casserole’s basic recipe. I avoided all the packaged ingredients and spent a little time in the kitchen making my own ingredients from scratch. After our experience with the original recipe, I adjusted the ingredient amounts and flavors to please their tastes.
The result was a good casserole with low caloric value, lower fat, low sodium and high flavor. Totally a successful dish that we augmented with a simple spinach salad with some tomatoes, low fat balsamic vinaigrette and chopped vegetables. For those who aren’t concerned about calories, you could even add ½ cup of corn kernels to this recipe.
Note: If you are taking the “from scratch” route, I recommend that you make your chicken stock, baked chips, roasted pepper and enchilada sauce first or even a day ahead to make this recipe easier.
Here is my version of Tortilla Chip Casserole
(Serves 6-8 depending on serving sizes):
3 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 full tablespoon minced fresh garlic
2 Tablespoons all-purpose King Arthur flour
1 cup 1% milk
¾ cup homemade, unsalted chicken stock (if using canned, use salt free stock)
1 ½ teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon coriander
¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 ounces, reduced fat cream cheese
1 cup reduced sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups chopped cooked chicken breasts (trimmed of all fat and skin)
4 ounces, homemade baked tortilla chips, crushed (If you are using store-bought use the baked Tostitos brand chips)
1 freshly roasted bell pepper, chopped (you can used jarred peppers if necessary)
1 ¼ cup sodium free, homemade green chile sauce (Or substitute low sodium enchilada sauce if necessary)
2 ounces shredded reduced fat cheddar mixed with 2 ounces shredded reduced fat
Monterrey Jack cheese (you can use packaged low fat cheese if necessary)
2 tablespoons chopped jalapeño or more to suit your taste
¼ cup chopped green onions
¼ cup chopped cilantro
Fresh homemade red salsa (or use jarred if you must)
Make your chicken stock, baked chips, roasted pepper, enchilada sauce and salsa and set them aside. If you are cooking these the day before, cover in air tight, separate containers and refrigerate them all except the baked chips.
Preheat your oven to 350°.
Heat the 3 teaspoons vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion; cook 4-6 minutes depending upon your stove-top. Add the garlic and flour. Cook two minutes.
Gradually add the milk and chicken stock, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Bring the mixture to a boil.
Remove from the heat and stir in the spices: cumin, oregano, coriander, salt and pepper. Next, add the jalapeño and stir. Lastly, add the cream cheese stirring until it melts.
In an 11×7 pan, spread ½ cup milk mixture over the bottom of the pan.
Spread the black beans as the next layer. Add 2 cups chicken. Add half of the crushed chips.
Top the chips with ½ cup milk mixture. For the next layer, add 2 cups chicken, the roasted bell pepper and the rest of the chips. Cover it all with the remaining milk mixture and the green chile sauce. Sprinkle the top with the cheese mixture.
Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until the cheese melts. Top with chopped onions, chopped cilantro, and a dollop of salsa.
Serve hot with a side salad and ice cold beer.