Rock your weeknight eats with this make-ahead Enchilada Pasta Casserole. This delicious freezer-friendly dinner can be meal prepped in advance enjoyed all week long!
My husband is a giant pain in the butt.
Sorry Paul, but you know it’s true!
Whenever I ask him for meal suggestions I get the same response:
He tilts his head, taps his finger on his chin, and stares off into the distance thoughtfully… Then he shrugs. SHRUGS!
I read somewhere that men are less likely to crave one food over another but COME ON. I practically run on cravings! (and Dunkin!)
It baffles me. Fascinates me. Oh yeah – and it frustrates me to no end.
Luckily he’s cute AND he helps me in the kitchen, so while I have fun publicly shaming him for not helping me meal plan, I still love him dearly.
You can imagine my surprise when he curled up beside me during a recent Pinterest pin-a-thon, pointed to a photo of Mexican-style stuffed shells, and said “That.” He may have said please or “Jenny I would really like to shove that in my face” but I don’t recall because I was far too busy combusting from excitement. A recipe request?! From Paul!? Finally! I clicked over to the recipe and nearly gagged. It was a smorgasbord of preservative-packed sauces and processed cheeses.
I’m starting to think Pinterest should be sponsored by Velveeta, boxed cake mix, and cream of whatever-the-heck-that-stuff-is soup because there’s a whole lotta franken-food on that site.
Luckily we make real food around here, and Mexican? It happens to be my specialty!
Enchilada Pasta Casserole and Healthy Homemade Enchilada Sauce
We’re positively crazy for this easy cheesy Enchilada Pasta Casserole! It’s easily made vegetarian and is gloriously freezer-friendly too. WOOT!
Enchilada Pasta Casserole with Healthy Homemade Enchilada Sauce
- 3-4 cups enchilada sauce see below
- 1 lb ground sirloin or equivalent (I use local/pasture-raised/grass-fed)
- 1/4-1/2 cup diced peppers (bell pepper and/or jalapeño)
- 1/4-1/2 onion diced
- 1/4 cup salsa or taco sauce
- 3 tsp chili powder
- 3 tsp garlic powder
- 1-2 tsp dried cilantro or parsley
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 12 oz egg noodles
- 2 cups grated/shredded cheese
- cilantro and/or chopped green onion for topping
Healthy Homemade Enchilada Sauce:
- 2 cans tomato sauce (15 oz each)
- 15 oz can vegetarian refried beans
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 2-3 TBSP hot sauce
- 1.5 TBSP chili powder
- 1.5 TBSP garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp salt
Paul’s Pico de Gallo:
- 1/2 cup diced onion
- 1/2 cup diced tomato
- 1/8-1/4 cup diced jalapeno
- fresh cilantro to taste
- fresh lime juice (add a little… or a lot!)
- a pinch of salt to season
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
- First start on your sauce: you can blend the ingredients beforehand with a blender or food processor or wait until your components have had time to soften and simmer to blend, process, or immersion-blend. Entirely up to you!
- In a medium pot, combine all the ingredients listed above for the sauce recipe and simmer on medium-low, with the lid partially on, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. After the sauce is hot and the flavors have had time to mingle, taste test with a tortilla chip [or a spoon!] and adjust the seasonings and hot sauce to taste. I always add a little extra garlic powder, cumin, and chili powder and sometimes even a little extra hot sauce for a kick!Some of you may be a bit sketpical about the beans in the enchilada sauce, eh? While they’re not a typical component you’d find in this sassy red sauce, it adds a richness that I simply adore. It also adds fiber and protein too! No one will know it’s there – do it!
- While the sauce simmers away, get to work on sauteing or caramelizing your veggies and browning/cooking your meat. I used grass-fed ground sirloin, onion, and jalapenos [seeds and center removed to nix the extra heat]. Season with your sauce of choice [taco sauce or salsa work great!] and add in the chili powder, garlic powder, parsley/cilantro, cumin and salt.
- At the same time you can start your egg noodles too. They boil fairly quickly and should only take 7-11 minutes to reach perfect tenderness.
- Combine the sauce, meat, veggies and noodles in a large casserole dish (or two smaller ones!) and cover with cheese.
- Bake on the center rack at 350 F for about 15-20 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
- Top with fresh cilantro and all your favorite toppings (pico!!! sour cream!!!) and dig in!
If you get a chance to try this enchilada pasta casserole, let me know!
Leave some love in the comment form below or tag your photos with @peasandcrayons on Instagram so I can happy dance over your creation.
special diets and swaps
- brontosaurus chefs skip the moo cow + add oodles of extra veggies + beans
- vegansaurus chefs same as above plus top with daiya cheese + vegan sour cream
- t-rex chefs feel free to use grass-fed beef like we did or even ground turkey, shredded chicken, or pulled pork
- gluten-free? grab your favorite GF noodles or make [this] layered deliciousness
Garnish with cilantro and green onion and serve with a dollop of greek yogurt or guacamole…
As for the pico? It’s uber easy!
Dice your veggies and season with a pinch of salt and fresh cilantro. Add a little bit of lime juice and you’re good to go! I love the bite fresh pico de gallo over this hot and bubbly casserole.
You can even serve this alongside a few crispy tortilla chips to round out the meal with a little crunch.
so . . . how was it?
SO GOOD! That giant casserole dish pictured above probably should have lasted Paul and I a week but it was gone in a few days. We INHALED it! While I’m enjoying the summer sun and shenanigans I’m also a bit excited for cooler temperatures because this is the sort of comfort food I’ll for sure be cooking up this Fiesta Enchilada Pasta Casserole on a weekly basis. It’s earned a spot in dinner rotation and as a freezer meal as well. Oh yes – it’s super freezer-friendly. Cue excited squealing.
Oh — and the sauce? AMAZING! The smell from the kitchen as it simmered left Paul and I absolutely ravenous and, to our excitement, the taste was just as heavenly as the smell. I’m in love.
If you get a chance to try this Fiesta Enchilada Pasta Casserole, let me know! You can leave me a comment here (LOVE checking those daily!) or tag @PEASandCRAYONS on Instagram so I can happy dance over your creations. I can’t wait to see what you whip up!