It has been a while since I have made enchilada sauce. But the other day I roasted and shredded up a bunch of chicken (need to blog about this process soon – such a time saver!) and had it ready in the freezer so that put the enchilada bug on my brain.
We made a big batch of sauce (so there will probably be more enchilada posts coming soon =) and I put together this grain-free enchilada casserole that night and served it with my favorite black beans – yum!
I did it with zucchini instead of tortillas and it worked really great. My first idea was to hollow out the center of the zucchini and stuff the chicken inside but that sounded tedious. It is still a process to get them ready, but worth it to get those extra veggies and ditch the tortillas.
Zucchini has a lot of water in it, so if you put it in freshly cut, the casserole will end up very soupy. To combat that, get as much water out as you can before you put it together. I started by salting the slices and letting a tea towel soak up some of the water. After just a few minutes with the salt, the water begins to bead out.
I let them sit there for a while then patted them down to get more water out. Then I cooked them in a dry pan which gets even more water out and gets them ready to put in the casserole. This is actually the same exact method I used to make zucchini noodles for lasagna, so check that out for more pictures (and a great recipe!).
In the meantime, I got the filling ready. I like to saute onions and peppers (carrots are great too) and then add some spinach then the chicken and sauce. My chicken was already cooked, but if you are starting with raw chicken, simply add it in with the onions and peppers to cook up. I like to add cream cheese into the filling, it makes them extra tasty. But this can be omitted if you don’t do dairy or want to skip the extra fat.
All that’s left is assembling the casserole. Filling first, then zucchini, back and forth until it’s all gone, then topped off with cheese (again, feel free to skip the cheese, but it isn’t quite the same without it)
Enchilada Casserole Layered with Zucchini
3 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise (a mandolin is good for this)
2 lbs shredded chicken
1 Tb oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup shredded carrot
3 cups chopped spinach (will cook down)
4 c enchilada sauce
8 oz cream cheese (optional)
1-2 c cheddar cheese, shredded (optional)
1. Slice zucchini into thin strips and lay them on a towel. Sprinkle with salt to draw out the water. Use towel to squeeze out water then cook in a dry pan until a little brown on both sides. Set aside.
2. Heat oil in a large pan. Saute onion and pepper until soft, add garlic and cook another 2 minutes. Add chicken and sauce. Stir in spinach and cream cheese.
3. Preheat oven to 375′
4. Assemble casserole in a large baking dish. Start with the chicken filling then a layer of zucchini. Go back and forth until all is used up. Top with grated cheese and place in oven for 45 minutes, until bubbly and cheese is starting to brown. Allow to set 10-15 minutes before serving.