Fiesta Enchilada Pasta Casserole and Healthy Homemade Enchilada Sauce

Fiesta Enchilada Pasta Casserole and Healthy Homemade Enchilada Sauce: this delicious freezer-friendly dinner can be made ahead and enjoyed all week long!

Fiesta Enchilada Pasta Casserole

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, puts a finger to his lips/chin, and stares off into the distance thoughtfully… Then he shrugs. SHRUGS! I read somewhere that their pesky Y chromosome makes males less likely to crave one food over another but come the eff 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 pretty darn cute and he helps me in the kitchen, so while I have fun publicly shaming him for not helping me meal plan, I kind of love him. Gross.

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!

Fiesta Enchilada Casserole

Fiesta Enchilada Casserole and Healthy Homemade Enchilada Sauce

Fiesta Enchilada Casserole and Healthy Homemade Enchilada Sauce

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3-4 cups enchilada sauce (use the recipe below!)
  • 1 lb ground sirloin [or equivalent; I use local/pasture-raised/grass-fed]
  • 1/4-1/2 cup of diced peppers [bell pepper and/or jalapeno]
  • 1/4-1/2 an onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup of your favorite 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
  • one 12oz package of egg noodles [or your favorite pasta!]
  • 2 cups of your favorite grated/shredded cheese
  • extra cilantro and/or chopped green onion for topping

Healthy Homemade Enchilada Sauce:

  • 2 [15 oz] cans of tomato sauce (I use this BPA-free sauce)
  • 1 [16 oz] can of vegetarian refried beans
  • 1 cup of chopped onion
  • 2-3 TBSP of your favorite hot sauce
  • 1 + 1/2 TBSP chili powder
  • 1 + 1/2 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 and hot sauce, to taste
  • a squirt of lime juice, if you have it!
  • a pinch of salt to season

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. 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!
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Combine the sauce, meat, veggies and noodles in a large casserole dish (or two smaller ones!) and cover with cheese.
  7. Bake on the center rack at 350 F for about 15-25 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
  8. Top with fresh cilantro and all your favorite toppings (pico!!! sour cream!!!) and dig in!

Notes

Freezing this for later? Go for it! During step 6, stop before adding the cheese and freeze in an airtight pyrex container with a lid or in a foil baking dish covered in a layer of Saran Wrap then wrap tightly with aluminum foil to seal. 

To reheat, pasta may be defrosted overnight in the refrigerator and baked once thawed as directed above (should take about 30 minutes straight from the fridge) or bake directly from the freezer. To bake from frozen, remove plastic, add cheese, cover with foil. Bake at 375 degrees until hot in center, about 1 hour; remove foil.

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
Fiesta Enchilada Pasta Casserole
Fiesta Enchilada Pasta Casserole
Fiesta Enchilada Pasta Casserole... with a twist!

Garnish with cilantro and green onion and serve with a dollop of greek yogurt or guacamole… 

or both!

As for the pico? Uber easy! Dice your veggies and drizzle a little hot sauce over the top [optional but yummy!].  Season with a pinch of salt and fresh cilantro with a little bit of lime juice and you’re good to go!  I love the bite of raw, refreshing 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!

Anything goes!

Super Simple Homemade Pico de Gallo

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 be cooking up  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?  I could drink it.  Seriously; I pretty much salivate just thinking about it!  The smell from the kitchen as it simmered left P and I absolutely ravenous and, to my excitement, the taste was just as heavenly as the smell.  I’m in love.

Wait… why are you still sitting here?  Go!  Make this right meow!

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Comments

Debbie the RD

This recipe looks so yummy! I just made a layered enchilada casserole for a lunch get-together at work and have been craving more! I’ll have to try this out. 🙂

Amanda @ Adventure Year

That silly shrug must be a Paul thing, because I definitely know what you’re going through. This one looks like a total winner though! I know you said a few days, but what if we finish in two? It wouldn’t surprise me.

Jill

This looks delicious! I think it will go on the menu this weekend. 🙂

Nikki @ The Road to Less Cake

Oh that looks like a gooey cheese pasta delight. Nom!
Whenever I ask my man what should we have for dinner, I always get the same response “chicken in pitta bread”. I swear the boy would have me cook it every single night.

eatgreatbegreat

Well…now I’m starving!!! 😉 This looks amazing!

Allison

Oh yum! This is going on the menu next week for sure!

Kerry @ Till Then Smile Often

Adding this to Pinterest so they have a good recipe!!! I love Mexican food and I could eat it all day every day! This is on my “to-make” list!

Yin @ the|avantguardian

I love how delicious and beautiful this looks! In the Netherlands, Mexican food isn’t that popular yet, so we don’t have that many Mexican restaurants. But every time I go to the US, I have to have my Mexican food fix! Love this recipe! Will definitely try it myself!

Kim @ Hungry Healthy Girl

I’m so glad that you use real ingredients!!!!!!!! This looks absolutely delicious and I will be making it very soon!

Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl

YUM!! I want to try this with lentils!

Tiff @ Love Sweat and Beers

Come make this for me pleaaaaase!!! I’m sure it’s extra delicious on the second day too. Love it when that happens.

Alison @ Daily Mooves and Grooves

Mmm! Love that everything down to the sauce is homemade! And I also love that this is one of those meals that just gets better as it sits in the fridge overnight.

Heather Wilson

ohhh-M-G Enchilada yum!

O h, and I completely understand the “shrug”.. I swear its a male thing for sure!

Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table

Jenny, will you please make ME this so I can shove it in my face???

Liz @ Southern Charm

Swoon. I love you and your kitchen skills <3

Christina

This looks fab! I’m so glad I discovered your blog on Pinterest, reading your recipe it looks like you and I have the same theories on cooking and Velveeta. This looks like perfect husband food and I can’t wait to make it for mine (who also refuses to give me suggestions for dinner). I think this will be on the menu this weekend.

Kevin and Alli

I laughed out loud at your Pinterest sponsor comment. It’s so true! Cream of … Box of … Seasoning packet of …

Katy

Wow this looks delicious! This is definitely something my husband would LOVE! Thanks for sharing!

Danica

AMEN to what you said about Pinterest! I find recipes all the time that look fantastic but then have disgusting (sorry if that’s harsh, but it’s true) ingredients – I’m always experimenting to make healthy versions of them.

Jessie Saxton

This looks sooooo yummy! I am glad that I am not the only one thoroughly disgusted with the amount of processed crap on Pinterest! I am definitely going to try this recipe, maybe with some local ground pork I just bought at the farm market…Hmmm…THANKS!!! <3 Jessie

Happy Valley Chow

Wonderful job, that sounds and looks fantastic!

Happy Blogging!
Happy Valley Chow

Whitney @ To Live & Diet in L.A.

I really need to stop reading your blog during my mid-afternoon work slump. I’m about to start gnawing on my laptop. This looks fantabulous 🙂

Maggie @ Sunnyside Up Smile

Mhmm I love an easy casserole for a quick dinner! Especially one that doesn’t require much work but still packs a great flavor punch! This one seems perf 🙂 and I love Mexican food!

April Jacobs

I also have the same experience with my husband. He drives me nuts! Still, I love him so much. Anyway, I love your recipe. This is one of my favorites. Thanks for sharing! 😉

jeri

Oh yeah, I have one of them too. The only way I can tell what he likes is when I get up in the morning to discover he’s eaten my work-lunch leftovers. But that’s OK because he hasn’t discovered my secret stash in the freezer.

sandi

add that to the reason I don’t do pinterest!

As I started reading the recipe I was getting excited since I could fix it gluten free and then you mention it in the end! I am adding this to the menu for next week since I have everything (except the jalapeno) on hand. looks yummy!

Sarah @ A Refining Adventure

So glad you posted this! My husband does the same exact thing. He is zero help. I claim it’s not fair that I have to think of dinner ideas every night. It’s not the way our marriage should work. 😉

Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets

Here I thought this was going to be some type of delicious pasta bake thing, and you went Mexican on me. I’m so glad I was wrong. This looks and sounds completely face plant worthy.
My Hubby is very much like Paul when it comes to kitchen antics. He’s a great prep chef, but lacks on the meal planning front. He’ll eat pretty much anything I put in front of him, and 95% of the time he says everything tastes good as is, when what I really want is feedback and suggestions. Pftt, men. Still love him though, especially because he can wash a mean head of lettuce.

Lauren @ Oatmeal after Spinning

LOL! The first part of this post made me laugh so much. My husband is the same way – except he’ll usually say “um….. burgers?” Every. time. I don’t know why I even ask…
This looks DELICIOUS!!

Leah

I made this tonight and it was awesome! I love the idea of using the pasta. It gave it a lighter feeling than a bunch of tortillas. Thanks for the inspiration!

Kim

That looks so good! But I’m more of the Velveeta, Cream of everything, convenience kind of cook because I don’t have that much time to spend in the kitchen. Maybe I’ll send this to my mom and ask her to make it for us since she’s got the time. Can’t wait to taste it though.

Anonymous

Paul and his lack of menu suggestions, boo. I have found after much effort and time, my husband is so helpful with menu planing. If and ONLY if I give him a prompt, for instance what should I make this week with chicken?, and what is a another meal we might want to eat that has rice or noodles?
– KNatGU

Alysia @ Slim Sanity

I don’t know how I missed this!! I was waiting for it. Soo much Mexican cheesy goodness. We’ll be making this soon I expect!

Ashley @ Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen

This looks FANTASTIC!! My husband is the same way when it comes to menu requests. It’s a rare occasion when he actually has one. And I’ve never made my own enchilada sauce. TOTALLY drooling over here!!

    Jenn

    aww thanks Ashley! They totally need to pipe up more, right? Though this way we get to call the shots! 🙂

Arman @ thebigmansworld

I’m having a fiesta just looking at this.

Not really, i’m about to pack and that is an anti fiesta. Send me this?

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