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Fresh Food Recipe Makeover: Chicken Enchilada Casserole

March 20, 2012

Today’s fresh food recipe deserves a disclaimer: I took the fresh food volume and turned it WAY up.  It may seem that I literally tried to see how many fresh vegetables I could pack into one casserole, but the fact of the matter is that I adore vegetable enchiladas and simply couldn’t resist including a lots of veggies in this chicken version.  When it comes time to make it yourself, please feel free to pick and choose from the rather lengthy list!  But really, how can you resist?

The request for today’s recipe makeover came from one of my most favorite people in the world: my college roommate, one of my best friends, and an incredibly supportive fellow entrepreneur (check out her gorgeous custom invitations and stationery at!).  Kari is the kind of person that would literally do anything for you, so giving one of her favorite guilty pleasures recipes a fresh food makeover was really the least I could do in return.  Here’s hoping she still likes me when she sees how many veggies I’ve added…

Additional steps  created for this recipe:

1. Roasting peppers and chiles

2. Creating a veggie filling

Recipe Results

Cons: An added 25-30 minutes of hands on time.

Pros: 24% decrease in total calories, 39% decrease in calories from fat, 38% decrease in total fat and saturated fat, an astounding 68% decrease in sodium (taking it well within the reasonable intake level for dinner), and 38% decrease in cholesterol.  Plus, I know I am biased, but I think the flavor is more robust.

Chicken Enchilada Casserole with Vegetables
Yields: 8 Servings

1 Red bell pepper
1 Poblano pepper
2 Anaheim chiles
1 tablespoon Olive oil
1 cup Yellow onion (halved and thinly sliced)
2 Garlic cloves (minced)
2 cups Zucchini (quartered and chopped)
1 cup Corn
1 1/2 cups Fresh mushrooms (sliced, about 4 ounces)
2 Tomatoes (seeded and chopped)
2 tablespoons All-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon Chili powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon Black pepper
1 1/4 cups Fat-free low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup Water
31/4 cup Non-fat Greek yogurt
1 1/4 cups Cheddar cheese (shredded and divided)
1/4 cup Fresh cilantro (chopped)
Cooking spray
8 6-inch Corn tortillas (torn into pieces)
2 1/4 cups Skinless, boneless chicken breast (chopped, skinned and roasted)

1. Preheat broiler.
2. Cut the peppers and chiles in half, removing the seeds and membranes. Place the peppers and chiles skins sides up on a foil-lined baking sheet, flattening with your hand. Broil until blackened, about 5 minutes. Remove from baking sheet and place in a zip-loc bag for 15 minutes. Remove pepper and chiles from bag and peel off skins, then chop and set aside.
3. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, zucchini, corn, and mushrooms; sauté 3 minutes. Add tomatoes; sauté 2 minutes. Stir in flour, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper; cook 2 minutes.
4. Stir in chopped pepper and chiles, broth, and water; simmer 5 minutes or until thick, constantly stirring. Stir in yogurt. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup cheddar cheese and cilantro.
5. Preheat oven to 350F.
6. Combine vegetable mixture, tortilla pieces, and cooked chicken in a large bowl.  (Make sure all of the tortilla pieces are coated with the vegetable mixture.) Transfer to 9×13 baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with remaining 1/4 cup cheddar. Cover and bake for 35 minutes, or until bubbly.

Kate’s Thoughts

I know it is really hard to compare to the ease of simply pouring bottles/cans of ingredients into a bowl, but I will always argue that a little extra time is well worth it.  This is especially true when you consider the health benefits.  The original dish had 1,390 mg of sodium, well over half of the daily recommended intake, where my revision has 445 mg .  That fact alone should make you put down the jar of salsa.

As I said from the onset, you can adjust the ingredients to fit your tastes and your time constraints.  Trimming the number of included vegetables will help save you chopping time.  To create a truer version of the original recipe, I would include only peppers, chiles, onions, garlic, and tomatoes.

If you like heat, I suggest cutting out the red bell pepper and adding another poblano pepper.  Pansy in the heat department like me?  Cut back to one Anaheim chile.

During non-summer months I recommend using frozen corn and canned whole tomatoes.  These ingredients are packed at prime freshness and will taste better than the out of season varieties you may find in the produce section.


Chicken Enchilada Casserole
Yields: 8 Servings

2  cans Cream of chicken soup
1 16-ounce jar Salsa
1 small jar Diced green chiles
1 pound Skinless, boneless chicken breast (pre-cooked and cut into small pieces)
2 cups Cheddar cheese (shredded)
8 Corn tortillas (torn into pieces)

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. Transfer mixture to a 9 x 13 baking dish coated with cooking spray.
3. Bake for 35 minutes or until bubbly.

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