Fajita casserole makes easy, wholesome dish

Posted Sept. 25, 2009, at 6:28 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:49 a.m.

Sandra Burke in Dedham sent this recipe along. It appealed to me because zucchini and green tomatoes happen together in the garden here, and a can of black beans is usually in the cupboard. So is corn in some form, and Jamie likes cheese melted on nearly anything. I thought it might appeal to some of you who need an easy-to-assemble, reasonably wholesome supper or side dish that you can toss together. Of course, being the cheapskate I am, I spent some time trying to do an end run around some of the prepared stuff.

Like taco cheese. I have a really high resistance to letting someone else grate cheese for me, and besides, I’ve never liked the mouth-feel of those cheeses straight from the bag: they taste like they have sawdust on them. The ingredients for taco cheese are cheddar and jack cheese mostly, with a little asadero and queso blanco mixed in. A combination of chedder and jack cheese would work just fine. State of Maine makes a pepper jack that is pretty zippy and it would work fine here, too, blended with cheddar. It would turn up the heat on the whole dish.

Speaking of heat, I used a mildly hot pepper we grow, but if it is heat you like, Sandra pointed out, you can add chopped jalapenos. I like making my own sauces when I can, but you can use a prepared fajita sauce if you like, or, as Sandra said, taco or enchilada sauce is a good substitute. Or you can use the fajita sauce recipe below; make it hotter using jalapenos.

Since the dish relies on green tomatoes and zucchini, the next question is: Are we going to eat this only in September and October? If you have enough zuke and green tomatoes, you could consider making up that portion of the dish and freezing it, then add the beans, corn and tomato sauce to it later.

Then, too, Sandra pointed out, this dish can be extended to become a Mexican lasagna. Just line the bottom of a greased baking pan with corn tortillas, spread half of the vegetable mixture, sprinkle with cheese, top with another layer of corn tortillas, then the rest of the vegetables and top with cheese again. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or so.

Our friend Bill, who came over to try this out with us, said he thought it would make a good potluck supper dish. Bingo.

Green Tomato Fajita Casserole

1 medium onion, diced

1/8 – 1/4 green pepper, diced

1 medium or 2 small zucchini, diced

Vegetable oil

2 cups diced green tomatoes (2-3 large ones)

½ teaspoon dried or 1 tablespoon fresh minced cilantro

½ teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon dried thyme

1 14-ounce can black beans, drained

1 cup corn kernels

1 cup or 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce

¼ cup fajita or enchilada sauce

Taco cheese or 1 cup grated cheddar plus 1 cup grated Monterey Jack

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Saute the onion, green pepper and diced zucchini in a little oil until the onions are translucent. Then add the tomatoes and herbs, and cook together for five minutes. In a large bowl, combine the beans, corn, tomato and fajita sauce. Add the cooked mixture and mix well. Spread in a 9-by-11 baking dish and top with the cheese. Bake for 45-50 minutes.

Homemade Fajita Sauce

½ cup lime juice

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped

1 sliced hot pepper (jalapeno, green chili, etc.)

1 teaspoon cumin

Salt and pepper

Mix. Refrigerate whatever you don’t use right away.

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