Chilaquile is a Mexican dish, sort of like a Mexican lasagna. Traditionally, chilaquiles are a quick dish, typically a way to use up leftover meat, beans, and corn tortillas from the day before. So, this is certainly a comfort dish, but let it not fool you, it is absolutely delicious. This dish is very simple, so it all comes down to the quality of what you put in it.
The version I have here is vegetarian, but I see endless ways to add in some meat -- ground beef/turkey prepared for tacos, shredded chicken/pork/beef prepared for enchiladas or burritos, etc.
I have had the good fortune of dining at THE Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, NY. There was a time in my life when I was completely smitten by Mollie Katzen and her creations. Don't get me wrong, I still love the food Moosewood puts out, but I find some of the food a bit too rustic and collegiate sometimes. I guess age and fine-dining habits have taken a stronger hold of me....That said, there are some things that I really really love from Moosewood, and this Chilaquile dish is right at the top. I have made this many many times for feeding a crowd, and it has always been a huge hit! Try this for your next potluck, picnic, or casual gathering. And be sure to let me know what you think..
We had friends over for dinner, and since the majority were vegetarian, I decided we'd all go that route. I will also say that I did not mind the absence of meat one bit. I think you won't either. We served the chilaquiles along with a nice fresh green salad with ripe nectarines and a chili-lime salad dressing. Muy delicioso...
Let's talk about the ingredients. You can make your own tortilla chips by frying up some corn tortillas at home, but since I've given up deep-frying at home, that is not an option for me. You can easily use good-quality stoneground tortilla chips that come in a bag. I decided to shave a few extra calories off and used stoneground baked tortilla chips from Guiltless Gourmet. I *do not* like these to eat as a snack (they are a bit like cardboard), but this is a prefectly decent application for them. So save the greasy stuff for munching on. The key though is that you will want to use sturdy homestyle tortilla chips. That nasty tostitos/doritos/whatever stuff is plain nasty and will turn into a soggy mush.
And please take the extra 10 minutes to make the quick blender hot sauce (recipe below). Store-bought bottled salsa will just not give you the same taste and texture.
Also, I love the flavor and heat of roasted green chile. I get an annual supply from New Mexico. I really like the New Mexico Big Jims. They are picked in the heat of summer and roasted on site. They come frozen and keep beautifully in the freezer. I use these to make giant batches of green chile, I use them in stew, huevos, etc. They are fantastic! If you don't want to roast green chili's, you can just leave these out. If you really really want to, you can use the canned roasted stuff, but why bother? I would much rather substitute a chipotle chile.
Black Bean Chilaquile
Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant
Serves 6 - 8
2 cups chopped onions
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups chopped tomatoes
3 cups fresh corn kernels (frozen will do)
3 cups cooked black beans (or 2 - 15oz cans, drained)
4 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh black pepper
4 cups rinsed, stemmed and choppped Swiss chard (spinach works well too)
4 cups lightly crushed baked tortilla chips
1 cup grated monterey jack cheese
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 roasted green chiles, skinned, and membranes removed, then chopped
4 cups prepared Blender Hot Sauce (see recipe below)
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Saute the onions in olive oil till translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, corn, black beans, lime juice, salt, and pepper and continue to saute another 10 minutes or so, just until everything is heated through.
Meanwhile, in another pan, blanch the greens in boiling water for 2 minutes, until just wilted but still bright green. Drain immediately, spread on a baking sheet lined with a kitchen towel, and set aside.
Prepare a rectangular baking dish (approx 9 x 13 inches) with a light coating of olive oil or cooking spray. Spread half of the crushed tortilla chips on the bottom. Spoon the saute'ed vegetables over the tortilla chips and sprinkle on the cheddar cheese. Arrange the greens evenly over the cheese and pour in half of the blender hot sauce. Finish with the rest of the tortilla chips and top with the remaining hot sauce and the monterey jack cheese.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and golden brown. I like to finish the casserole off under the broiler for a few minutes, so the cheese forms a beautiful brown crust.
Let cool 15 to 20 minutes, slice and serve. Leftovers keep really well.
Blender Hot Sauce
Makes approx. 6 cups
2 cups chopped onions
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 - 2 jalapeno peppers
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 - 28oz cans whole plum tomatoes with juice (I like Muir Glen)
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Salt to taste
Add all the ingredients into a blender jar (you might need to work in 2 batches) and puree until smooth.
Transfer the sauce to a heavy saucepan, and simmer, uncovered for 30 - 45 minutes. Stir often to prevent scorching at the bottom. Add salt to taste.
You can make this ahead. The sauce will keep for a week easily, covered in the refrigerator.