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Mexican Casserole or As You Like It

May 2, 2011

I should probably re-title this recipe. It seems a little stereotypical. I imagine someone making it up, asking him/herself, “What could I put in a casserole to make it Mexican?” “I’ll put tomatoes, salsa, beans, corn, and tortillas! I’ll also put a sombrero and a donkey and a little spicy current debate about U.S. immigration policy.”  Also, I don’t know any Mexican-Americans who have told me they particularly like casserole in general. I’ve been told by one, in fact, the opposite.

So, maybe we should re-title this recipe (as my nod to Shakespeare, above) to avoid stereotyping. Perhaps we could call it “Vegan Tex-Mex One-Dish Wonder.” Vegan and Tex are a pretty ironic combination to me, but maybe that’s another stereotype.

Most contemporary recipes have titles that say exactly what’s in it such as: “Black bean tomato casserole with corn, tortillas, and cumin-scented salsa.” That’s nice. It sounds fancy. Maybe we should call it that.

Except it says exactly what’s in it, which makes it less than fun.

I’m all for the creatively vague title. I look through my Grandmama’s cookbooks and there are recipes with titles such as “Mexican Luncheon” (There it is again!), “Nancy’s Casserole” and, for all you old-timers, “Layered Johnny Marzetti,” “Roman Holiday,” “Jon Mozetta,” and (my personal favorite) “Johnny Knows It.” I bet you youngsters have no idea what’s in these casseroles. Aren’t you intrigued?

So, I’ll leave the verdict to you–Mexican Casserole, Vegan Tex-Mex One-Dish Wonder, Black bean tomato casserole with corn, tortillas, and cumin-scented salsa, or something even more creative that I haven’t thought up yet. (Suggestions, anyone?)

But, beyond the title, this is a superb recipe. It’s easy to make, wonderfully healthful, and you can cook it while you’re at work so when you come home it’s all ready to eat. Plus, there are a lot of ways you can variate the taste. I made my notes below.

Unnamed Crock Pot Casserole with South-of-the Border Influence

1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes, with juice (I use 1 qt. home-canned chopped tomatoes.)

1 14.5 oz. can salsa (I use 1 pt. home-canned salsa. I have used red, green, and tomato-peach salsa to much success.)

1 6. oz. can tomato paste

2 15 oz. cans black beans, rinsed and drained (I cook my own beans and have used various types including small red beans and black-eyed peas.)

1 15 oz. can sweet corn, drained (I use 2 C. frozen corn kernels.)

2 chili peppers, sliced (I use frozen chili peppers preserved during the summer.)

1 t. cumin

1 t. garlic powder (I use garlic powder, but it would probably be better & tastier to use minced garlic.)

5 tortillas (I have used corn and wheat tortillas. I’ve also been making my own tortillas lately and have used those as well.We eat this a lot, obviously.)

Get out your slow cooker and turn it on to low. In a large bowl, Mix everything but the tortillas together. Put approximately 1 C. of the mixture in the bottom of the slow cooker and spread evenly. Top with one tortilla, cut to fit if necessary. Spread with about 1 C. mixture. Continue making layers, ending with a tortilla (but if you figured wrong, it’s really no problem.) Cook on low for about 5 hours.

I like to serve this with shredded cheese and tortilla chips.

I have also substituted pumpkin for part of the corn and it turned out really well.

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