This Mexican-style casserole is an old-school favourite for a reason

Ann Maloney

THE WASHINGTON POST – Certain ingredients are like old friends you can count on – the ones you know will be there for you when the chips are down, when you are not at your best, when you need comfort.

If I’ve got these guys hanging out in my kitchen – tortillas, a tasty melting cheese, beans, salsa and peppers – I know I can quickly create a Mexican-style dish that I’ll really enjoy.

These are inexpensive, long-lasting items that complement our current desire to cook from our pantries and refrigerators rather than popping into the store.

With them in hand, I can make quesadillas, tostadas or burritos. I can fry the corn tortillas to make nachos or enjoy them with a hot cheesy bean dip.

I thought about my ingredient friends again after making an old favourite: A Mexican-style shrimp casserole. I wanted something warm and comforting, so I layered tender corn tortillas with gently mashed canned black beans, fresh corn, store-bought enchilada sauce, fresh minced jalapeño and grated cheddar cheese. I happened to have part of a bag of shrimp in the freezer, so I thawed, poached, chopped and layered them in as well.

Mexican-Style Shrimp Casserole. PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST

The casserole comes together in about 45 minutes. The dish is so simple and so variable, you almost don’t need a recipe.

MEXICAN-STYLE SHRIMP  CASSEROLE

Active: 20 minutes | Total: 45 minutes

Six to Eight servings

Make Ahead: Assemble the casserole and then cover it tightly and refrigerate it for up to one day before baking. Let the dish sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes, before warming it in the 350-degree oven as described.

INGREDIENTS

One and a half cups enchilada sauce or salsa, divided

One cup frozen corn, thawed

Quarter cup minced fresh jalapeño chile peppers, seeded, or one can chopped green chiles, drained

One and a half pounds peeled cooked shrimp, tails removed, diced

12 (six-inch) corn tortillas

One can whole pinto or black beans

Two and a half cups shredded cheese, divided

Fresh cilantro, for garnish (optional)

Sour cream, for serving (optional)

STEPS

Position a rack in the centre of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees. Coat a nine-by-13-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, add half cup enchilada sauce, corn and chiles.

Bring to a simmer and add the shrimp, cooking until the shrimp are warm, one to two minutes. Remove from the heat.

Spread a quarter cup enchilada sauce in the baking dish. Top with a layer of six overlapping tortillas.

Place the beans in a medium bowl and gently mash, leaving some whole.

Spread the beans evenly over the tortillas. Top the beans with the shrimp mixture, followed by one cup cheese. Top with the remaining six tortillas.

Pour the remaining sauce over the tortillas and spread evenly so all are moistened. Cover the dish tightly with foil.

Bake the casserole for about 20 minutes, or until it begins to bubble on the sides. Remove the foil.

Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and return the dish to the oven for an additional eight minutes, until the cheese is melted.

Let the casserole cool for at least five minutes before slicing, then sprinkle with cilantro, if using.

Nutrition (based on eight) | Calories: 530; Total Fat: 15g; Saturated Fat: 1g; Cholesterol: 150mg; Sodium: 1041mg; Carbohydrates: 59g; Dietary Fibre: 12g; Sugars: 3g; Protein: 40g.