It can be challenging to find vegan dinner options that leave you and your family satisfied. Therefore, when I created this vegan enchilada casserole recipe, I knew I had struck gold. The combination of beans, cremini mushrooms, zucchini, sweet corn, kalamata olives and carrot sauce, with a touch of vegan cheese, is just divine. You’re in for a real treat with this dish!
This savory Mexican version of lasagna is the definition of hearty vegan comfort food. Also, I love that I can make it in advance, which makes it a perfect dinner for busy weeknights.
WHY WE LOVE THIS RECIPE
- Savory flavors. The cremini mushrooms make this dish feel meaty and satisfying. In addition, the kalamata olives bring an umami, aromatic quality to the recipe.
- Adaptable. This is a flexible recipe that can easily turn into regular vegan enchiladas if you’re up for the assembly.
- Great for meal prep. You can make the sauce and filling ahead of time. When you're ready, just put everything together and bake!
- Good for you. All the protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals from the different veggies make this vegan enchilada casserole the perfect all-encompassing meal.
The ingredients for this vegan enchilada casserole are simple and easy to find:
- Cheese (vegan or cheese of your choice)
- Cooked kidney beans
- Frozen corn
- Kalamata olives
- Cremini mushrooms
- Ground cumin
- Red and white onions
- Sea salt
- Tortillas: I use cassava flour tortillas by Siete to make this recipe gluten-free. They taste like a cross between a flour tortilla and a corn tortilla. In fact, they're dairy-free, grain-free, paleo- and vegan-friendly.
- Carrots: Instead of store-bought enchilada sauce, I create my own by blending cooked carrots and onions.
- Cooked kidney beans: Beans are a great source of fiber and protein, making this a filling vegan casserole. When I don’t have time to cook kidney beans from scratch, I like to use the organic, pre-cooked kidney beans by Jovial.
- Cheese: It wouldn’t be an enchilada without cheese! Sprinkle some grated vegan cheese before baking for a cheesy finishing touch.
- Ground cumin: This spice adds classic Mexican flavor to this vegan enchilada casserole.
STEP 1: MAKE THE ENCHILADA SAUCE
Wash and peel the carrots. Cut them into big chunks and set aside.
Next, wash the red onion and cut off the stem and root ends. Peel off the papery outer skin and, if necessary, pull away any soft underlying onion layers. Cut into big chunks and set aside.
Put the carrot and onion chunks into a medium-sized saucepan. For a red-colored sauce, add a small piece of beet. Add enough water to almost cover the vegetables. Substitute the water with vegetable broth if you have some.
Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Once it has a good boil going, cover the pan with a lid and reduce the heat to low. Let it simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the carrots are fork-tender.
Put the cooked carrots and onions as well as the remaining cooking liquid into a blender. Add sea salt and a squeeze of fresh lime juice, if you like. Blend everything until you’ve got a nice, thick purée. If the sauce is too thick for your liking, add a splash of water and mix until it’s at your desired consistency.
Note: If you like your casserole more saucy, feel free to double the amount of sauce. It's also nice to add when reheating leftovers.
STEP 2: PREP THE VEGGIES
Peel the cloves of garlic and finely mince them. Set aside.
Next, dice the onion and set aside. For the zucchini, wash the vegetable and cut the two ends off. Slice it into half lengthwise. Place the cut side face down and slice the zucchini into thin half-moons. Set aside.
Drain the kalamata olives and give them a quick rinse under cold tap water. Coarsely chop them and set aside.
For the cremini mushrooms, rinse them under cool water or use a damp towel to wipe away any extra debris. Trim down the stems or remove them altogether. Thinly slice each mushroom and set aside.
STEP 3: COOK THE FILLING
Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized frying pan.
Add the diced onion and minced garlic. Cook and stir with a wooden spatula until they soften, around 5 minutes. Sprinkle the mixture with a little bit of sea salt to draw out the moisture from the onions.
Add the sliced mushrooms and generously salt them. Next, add the cumin. Cover the frying pan with a lid and let the mixture cook for 3-5 minutes or until the mushrooms have cooked down considerably.
Add the sliced zucchini and a bit of sea salt. Stir slightly to incorporate into the mixture. Next, add the frozen corn kernels and the chopped kalamata olives. If you like it spicy, add cayenne pepper, paprika, or chili powder at this point.
Stir everything together and let the mixture cook for another 5 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender.
STEP 4: ASSEMBLE THE CASSEROLE
Lightly oil a 9x13 inch casserole dish.
To assemble, use a spatula to spread some of the enchilada sauce evenly over the bottom of the baking dish. Add a single layer of the tortillas.
Add a layer of the pre-cooked kidney beans, followed by a layer of the vegetable filling. Use a spatula to distribute the mixture evenly. Pour some of the enchilada sauce on top of the veggies and spread evenly.
Repeat the layers until the dish is nearly full. For the final layer, finish with a layer of tortillas and enchilada sauce. Sprinkle the top with vegan cheese.
Cover the dish with foil and bake in a preheated oven at 400°F for 15 minutes. Uncover the casserole dish and bake for another 8 minutes until the cheese is perfectly melted and bubbling.
Let the casserole cool for 5 minutes. Serve with an avocado salad or brown rice.
- Swap the veggies. You can use other vegetables depending on the season and what you have on hand. Diced butternut squash would work, as well as bell peppers, grated sweet potatoes, or broccoli.
- Grate your cheese. Though it is a little more work, freshly grated cheese melts a lot smoother than the pre-shredded variety.
- The cooked casserole firms up as it sits. Let the casserole sit for a few minutes before serving. The quicker you serve it, the sloppier it will be. On the other hand, the longer you wait, the neater your slices will be.
- Try some toppings. After the vegan enchilada casserole comes out of the oven, finish it off with a garnish. Some great topping ideas include olives, avocados, red onions, cilantro, tomatoes, salsa, sour cream, or green chiles.
- Make it cheesy. For an extra cheesy vegan enchilada casserole, add a layer or two of shredded vegan cheese.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What are enchiladas?
Enchiladas are a staple Mexican cuisine. They typically consist of corn tortillas stuffed with a savory filling and drenched in a spicy sauce. Think of this vegan enchilada casserole as a deconstructed approach to making enchiladas. In fact, it’s easier to make than a regular pan of enchiladas.
Are corn tortillas vegan?
Yes. Corn tortillas are made from corn flour instead of wheat flour. To make corn tortillas, you typically use masa harina, a finely ground corn flour made from dried corn kernels that are rehydrated and treated with lime (calcium hydroxide). So even though I use cassava flour tortillas in this recipe, you can swap them out and use corn tortillas if you prefer.
How long will the leftover casserole last in the refrigerator?
This vegan enchilada casserole keeps well when stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Additionally, this recipe can be frozen. Cut the casserole into individual servings for quick meals and freeze them for up to 3 months. To defrost, thaw completely in the fridge before reheating in the microwave or oven.
Can this recipe be made gluten-free?
Yes, this recipe IS gluten-free. The carrot and onion purée used as enchilada sauce is gluten-free. In addition, I use cassava flour tortillas, which are also gluten-free.
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TRY THESE FAMILY-FAVORITE RECIPES NEXT:
- First, follow my simple recipe for turning frozen vegan butternut squash ravioli into a weeknight dinner packed with flavor and texture.
- Next, if you need ideas for a quick last-minute meal, this heart-healthy curried pumfu stir-fry recipe is a fast, healthy dinner you can turn to again and again.
- Finally, add more plant-based foods to your weekly menu with this quinoa bowl recipe made with a hearty whole grain and lots of delicious veggies.
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