Tasty Chicken Mushroom Black Bean Casserole

 

 
This mouth watering chicken casserole is served with guacamole and sour cream.

 

Think casserole and most might think tuna, yet this chicken black bean casserole contains a host of healthy goodness that could change all that. Hey, call it a “Mexican Lasagna” if you want to be fancy. Just try it, and you can claim credit for discovering a new family favorite, one that happens to be packed with nutritional content. If you want to eat healthier, but refuse to give up on taste, you won’t be disappointed.

 

After the meat, mushrooms and other ingredients add in brown rice.

We used “whole-grain” brown rice and brown rice tortillas.

What makes our casserole so good for you? We use chicken breasts and black beans, so this dish is high in protein. It’s also packed with whole-grain goodness. In fact, we used whole-grain brown rice and whole-wheat tortillas to insure the recipe features healthier complex carbs.

 

A package of organic cilantro.

If you can, stick to organic ingredients which don’t contain harmful pesticides or hormones.

Other great ingredients include fresh spinach, onions, mushrooms, cilantro, and tomatoes. Really, there is so much yummy goodness in here your family won’t care they’re eating healthy.

 

Let’s Gather The Ingredients

 

1 cup brown rice (uncooked)

2 tablespoons extra light olive oil

2 chicken breasts skinned

Use sweet onions.

Gather up and prepare your ingredients ahead to make assembly a snap.

1 medium to large sweet onion

8-10 white or brown mushroom caps

1/3 cup chicken bouillon

1 can diced tomatoes

1 can diced green chilies mild

1 packet of whole-wheat tortillas (you’ll need 3 or 4 good sized tortillas)

1 can black beans (rinsed and lightly chopped)

I open my cans up ahead of time.

Don’t forget those diced chilies!

3-4 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro

1/3 – 1/2 bag fresh baby spinach (lightly chopped)

2 teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon garlic power

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon Cayenne chili powder

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

4 to 8 ounces grated Smokey Cheddar

Salt to taste

 

Preparation:

 

We'll heat up the oil and then add chicken.

When the rice has less than 20 minutes to go, put a large fry pan on a burner at a medium high heat. Add a little oil.

Start by cooking the brown rice per the instructions on the package. I typically add 1 cube of chicken bouillon instead of salt when I make brown rice, but you can do it either way.

 

Don't forget to skin the chicken if it hasn't been done.

Cut skinned chicken into bite-sized pieces. Brown in the oil.

Next, cut up the chicken, onions, mushrooms, spinach, cilantro and black beans. You may find it easier to open any cans at this point so they are ready to go when you need them.

 

You could substitute any favorite cheese.

I love this “Hoffman’s Smoky Sharp” cheese. The flavor is terrific.

You may also want to grate the cheese ahead of time. I use Hoffman’s smoky cheddar when I make this recipe as I love the way the flavor combines with the other ingredients. If you know you don’t like “smoked” cheese, you could try a Mexican cheese blend instead. You can find it pre-shredded in the cheese aisle at your local grocer.

 

I'm chopping my black beans.

I  lightly chop my black beans. You don’t have to, but I think the flavors combine better.

When the rice is cooked or has about 20 minutes left, you can begin cooking the rest of your ingredients. Start by putting a large fry pan on a burner at medium to medium high heat.

 

Cook the mushrooms down until soft.

Add in the mushrooms and onions after the chicken browns.

Add a little oil and the chicken. Stir the chicken every few minutes until it is brown on all sides.

 

Here we add some chili powder.

Don’t forget those spices. The spice level for this recipe is fairly mild. To heat it up add more Cayenne powder and use a hotter variety of green chilies.

Next, add in the onions, mushrooms, and all the spices including the cumin, chili powder, Cayenne pepper and black pepper. You can also add a little salt if you like. If the mix looks a little dry add a third cup or so of chicken bouillon, white wine, or water to keep it from scorching. Continue heating for several minutes to allow the mushrooms and onions to cook down.

 

Pouring in the tomatoes.

It’s time to add the tomatoes.

Add the tomatoes and green chilies and stir into the mix.

 

Add the black beans. I rinse my beans first in a strainer and then slightly chop them. I prefer to cut them roughly in half for my recipes as I feel they don’t absorb spices as well when they are whole. Stir well and then taste. If you prefer a bit more “heat” add more spice now. Note: If you like your food spicier you could also try a hotter grade of the diced green chilies.

 

This already looks good enough to eat.

Spinach quickly cooks down. You can add about a third a bag and it will cook down in just a minute.

When you’re satisfied with the taste of the rice/bean mix, add in the spinach. You only need to cook the spinach a minute or so as you stir. It doesn’t take much.

 

Mix in the cheese as a final step before removing the pan from the heat.

Stir in about half the grated cheese. Mix it well so it spreads evenly in the mix.

Finally, add in about half the cheese and stir it in to spread it evenly through the mixture. Then turn off the burner and remove the pan from heat.

 

 

Layering The Casserole

 

Before this final prep stage, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

 

Just give me a spoon. I'm eating it this way!

Add some of the mix to a “lightly oiled” baking pan. Sprinkle on a little cheese and chopped cilantro. Lay strips of tortillas over the top. Repeat.

Now spray or rub olive oil on the surface of a 9 x 13 inch glass cooking pan.

 

Add just under half the contents from the fry pan into the bottom of the baking dish and flatten with a spatula.

 

We're almost done. Just need one more layer.

Lay tortilla “strips” over the rice/bean mix and repeat.

Sprinkle the top with more grated cheese and some cilantro.

 

Slice and add a layer of tortillas. Now repeat with another layer of mix, more tortillas, and bit of cheese. Be sure to save out a little of the mix so you can spread it over the top layer of tortillas.

 

This is one good looking casserole.

Save out enough rice/bean mix to spread a thin layer over the top layer of tortillas. Then top with cheese and chopped cilantro.

To finish, sprinkle the top with more cheese and cilantro. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and pop it in the oven.

 

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

 

This Mexican Lasagna looks good enough to eat.

This “casserole” serves 6 to 8 depending on appetite and portion size.

Best served hot. Garnish with some real sour cream and guacamole. For a sure-fire method to make guacamole come out right every time, read our post, “In Search Of The Perfect Guacamole.”

 

If you want a quick print PDF copy of today’s recipe click here.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

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