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Chicken Enchilada Casserole with Vegetables

October 27, 2011

My husband is always asking me to make a chicken enchilada casserole and I can never bring myself to do it.  The standard recipe was full of processed ingredients, not to mention high in fat and calories.  Some things are just not worth it, regardless of how delicious they might seem.

I recently enjoyed a vegetarian enchilada at a restaurant during our cross country road trip.  It was so tasty that I knew I wanted to recreate it at home.  Why not kill two birds with one stone? (Not one bird, two stones like I always seem to mistakenly say; that’s just inhumane.)  I could create a healthier chicken enchilada casserole and satisfy my vegetable version craving.  I found a lower calorie casserole recipe and doctored in with my own mixture of vegetables.  The final product was exactly what I was imagining and I think you’ll likewise agree that it’s incredibly flavorful.

Did I mention that it’s only about 250 calories per serving?  That’s half of some enchilada casserole recipes out there and this one tastes much better.

Chicken Enchilada Casserole with Vegetables
Yields: 8 Servings

2 Anaheim chiles
1 Red bell pepper
1 tablespoon Olive oil
4 cups Zucchini (chopped)
1 cup Carrots (matchstick cut)
4 cups Cremini mushrooms (sliced, about 8 ounces)
1 cup Onions (1/4″ slices)
2 Garlic cloves minced
2 tablespoons All-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Dried sage
1/4 teaspoon Ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon Black pepper
1 1/4 cups Fat-free low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup Water
4 ounces Fat-free cream cheese (softened, about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup Monterey jack cheese (shredded, 2 ounces)
1/4 cup Fresh cilantro (chopped)
Cooking spray
9 6-inch Corn tortillas (cut in half)
2 1/4 cups Skinless, boneless chicken breast (chopped, skinned and roasted; about 3/4 pound)
1/4 cup Romano cheese (grated, 1 ounce)

1. Preheat broiler.
2. Cut the chiles and bell pepper in half lengthwise, and discard seeds and membranes. Place chile and bell pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet, and flatten with hand. Broil for 5 minutes or until blackened, turning occasionally. Place in a zip-top plastic bag, and seal. Let stand 15 minutes; peel and chop chiles and bell pepper.
3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add zucchini and carrots; saute 5 minutes.  Add mushrooms, onions, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Stir in flour, sage, cumin, and black pepper, and cook 2 minutes. Stir in chopped chiles and bell pepper, broth, and water; simmer 5 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Stir in cream cheese. Remove from heat; stir in Jack cheese and cilantro.

4. Preheat oven to 350°.
5. Spoon 1 cup mushroom sauce into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray; top with 6 tortilla halves, 3/4 cup chicken, and 1 cup sauce. Repeat layers twice, ending with sauce. Sprinkle with Romano.

6. Cover and bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes

Kate’s Thoughts

I was really pleased with the changes to this recipe and I would only suggest a few minor tweaks.  For one, I simply seasoned the chicken with salt and pepper when I roasted it.  To help the chicken marry up with the rest of the casserole, I might try additionally seasoning it with dried sage or cumin.  Also, I may exclude the the carrots next time.  They did not seem to soften as much as the other vegetables and so I found their crunch to be a little distracting.  But now that I write this, all that I can think is “who seriously gets distracted by crunch?” and want to take the suggestion back.

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