October 24, 2013

Nirvana Enchilada Casserole – VIDEO

by IsaChandra

Serves 8
Total time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Active time: 30 minutes

Enchilada Casserole
Photo by Vanessa Rees, food styling by Kate Lewis

Enchiladas can be a lot of work. This version, in casserole form is a little less so. Don’t get me wrong, it still makes more dishes than you want to do, but it’s a lot easier than stuffing each tortilla. Watch me make it and see for yourself! (Oh and check out my sweet HODOR shirt.)

This recipe from Isa Does It is the first I’ve posted from the Sunday Night Suppers section. You know, recipes that you could pull together on a weeknight, but really, why not spend a leisurely Sunday with your friends or your kids or your mom or some stranger off the street, hanging in the kitchen and cooking dinner together?

Layers of corn tortilla sopping up spicy, fragrant, red sauce then overstuffed with mushroom, pinto beans and roasted potatoes. On top is a voluptuous cashew creme that will have you rolling your eyes to the back of your head like a zombie. An enchilada zombie.

PS I just wanna’ give a shout out to my girl Kate Lewis for the amazing styling on this one! It was tough to make a dug-into casserole look so ridiculously appetizing, but Kate found a way. Thanks, girl!

Recipe Notes

~If you want to add extra heat, there are a few ways I can recommend doing it. Saute a sliced, seeded jalapeno with the onion for the filling, or try an extra jalapeno in the sauce.

~The white sauce is not entirely necessary, but it’s easy enough to do and it looks (and tastes) great. If, however, it’s too much to finagle at the moment or you forgot to soak cashews, then you can just serve topped with some guac. If you wanted to serve with your favorite meltable vegan cheese instead, then I can try to look the other way.

~I love the tenderness of pintos here, but feel free to use black beans! I bet lentils would be yummy, too. But that’s no surprise because I always think lentils would be yummy.

~This is definitely more of a Sunday night supper, but if you want to enjoy it on a weeknight, it can happen. Make the enchilada sauce the night before and be sure to soak your cashews. Everything will come together in a snap!

For the potatoes:
1 1/2 lbs yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
Fresh black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Enchilada sauce:
4 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced medium
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (use 2 if you like more heat)
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons dried oregano (Mexican, preferably)
2 28 oz cans whole tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon agave nectar

White sauce:
1 cup cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours
3/4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cornstarch

For the filling:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, quartered and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups cooked pinto beans (2 15 oz cans, rinsed and drained)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

For assembly:
18 8 inch corn tortillas

Optional toppings:
Pepitas
Fresh chopped cilantro

Make the potatoes and enchilada sauce:
Preheat oven to 425 F.

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the potatoes with the oil right on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with fresh black pepper and salt, and toss to coat. Bake for 15 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 F, flip potatoes and bake for 10 more minutes. Leave oven at 350 F because that is the temp that the enchiladas need to bake at.

Preheat a 4 quart pot over medium heat. Dry toast the cumin and coriander seeds in the pan for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until they’re fragrant and a few shades darker, just be careful not to burn. Add the oil and saute the onion, jalapeno and garlic with oregano and a pinch of salt for about 5 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add the tomatoes, salt and agave, cover pot turn the heat up to bring to a slow boil. Let cook for about 20 minutes.

Once cooked, puree until smooth with with either a submersion blender or by transferring to a blender of food processor. If using a blender, intermittently lift the lid to let steam escape so that it doesn’t build up and explode and kill you. Also, note that if you use a submersion blender you really have to blend a lot to get the seeds to smooth out. Taste for salt and set aside to cool.

Make the filling:
Preheat a large pan over medium heat. Saute the onion in oil with a pinch of salt for about 5 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and saute just until fragrant, 15 seconds or so. Add the mushrooms and salt, and cook until they’ve released a lot of their moisture, about 5 minutes. Add the pinto beans and lime juice and cook just until heated through, 2 minutes or so.

When the roasted potatoes are ready, toss them into the filling mix. Taste for salt and set aside.

Make the white sauce:
Drain the cashews. Add everything to the blender and puree until completely smooth. It’s rather thick, so definitely scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula often or so to make sure you get everything. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Assemble this bad boy:
So we’re just going to be adding layers of sauce, tortillas and filling, then topping it all off. Let’s begin.

Lightly grease a 9×13 casserole pan. Ladle in a thin layer of enchilada sauce, then layer 6 tortillas into the pan. Now things are going to get a bit messy! Ladle in another layer of enchilada sauce (about a cup’s worth), and flip each tortilla to smother in the sauce. Each one should be coated, but you should still be able to see the tortilla, that is to say, it shouldn’t be drowning in the sauce. Next, layer the tortillas so that they’re slightly overlapping and covering the bottom of the pan.

Now add half of the filling, and pour on 1/2 cup of sauce or so. Layer in 6 more tortillas and repeat the process of smother each of them in a cup of sauce. Cover with the remaining filling. Once again pour 1/2 cup of sauce over the filling, and add the final layer of tortillas. Smother those in a cup of sauce. Reserve the rest of the sauce (if any) for serving.

Finally, top with the cashew sauce. I pour it directly out of the blender and try to ribbon it in thick globs over the top. It doesn’t have to be neat, it will look cute pretty much no matter what. Place in the 350 degree oven, and bake uncovered for about 30 minutes. The topping should be lightly golden.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with a handful of pepitas and chopped fresh cilantro if you like. Now it’s ready to serve!



  • October 24, 2013 at 7:38 pm: Anna

    With the layering of the tortillas, it’s kind of an ¡enchilasagna! Love it; going to make it tonight!

    • October 24, 2013 at 7:40 pm: IsaChandra

      True!

  • October 24, 2013 at 7:39 pm: Tracy Carlson

    Making this tonight! Vegan Yoda, you have done it again. <3

    I've already got a bunch of cans of diced tomatoes — may I use those instead of whole tomatoes?

  • October 24, 2013 at 7:45 pm: Karen

    I have question. Without a doubt I love everything you create but I cannot eat mushrooms :( Can you please suggest a substitute? Pretty please

    • October 24, 2013 at 7:50 pm: IsaChandra

      Sure! Pretty much any veggie that you love, honestly. Thinly sliced zucchini or eggplant would be great!

  • October 24, 2013 at 7:54 pm: melissa

    This looks gorgeous. And I know it will taste great because you NEVER disappoint!
    My new cookbook is due to arrive today! So excited. Congrats.
    I’m a huge fan and I tell everyone about you. Loving your new videos.

  • October 24, 2013 at 9:37 pm: Helen

    Are all these recipes in Isa Does It? This recipe became the last kick in the rear end to order your book :) You take the intimidating our of vegan. !!!

  • October 24, 2013 at 10:57 pm: VeganVamp

    Another awesome recipe, delivered in the most entertaining and enjoyable medium! ♥ Thanx for sharing.

    (PS – a teeny oops on the on-screen text editing, unless cuNiM is a new spice I’ve not yet experienced. ☺)

  • October 24, 2013 at 11:03 pm: VeganVamp

    (PPS – LOVE your nail color and your matryoshkas tat. You are lovely!)

    • October 24, 2013 at 11:17 pm: IsaChandra

      Thank you!

  • October 25, 2013 at 1:18 am: Tracy Carlson

    Isa, I cooked this up tonight and my husband and I are now stuffed and blissed out. As always I am so grateful to you for making veganism delicious and fun. :)

  • October 25, 2013 at 1:21 am: Tracy Carlson

    Ooops I wanted to include my photos of the delicious dish: http://veggiesaurustex.tumblr.com/post/65004520651/nirvana-enchilada-casserole

    Huzzah!

  • October 25, 2013 at 4:24 am: Kate Lewis

    You are the best!! I still remember the awesome leftovers I took home this shoot day. Y.U.M. ~K xx

  • October 25, 2013 at 6:45 am: Jayme

    You crack me up. I love your sense of humor! *practicing robot moves*

  • October 25, 2013 at 10:03 pm: Lilian

    Hi Isa,
    can you suggest a substitute for the cashews or the sauce? I’m allergic to nuts (not brazil nuts, but they won’t taste here) and a lot more. Contained your corn tortillas wheat? You rock :-) Thank you for posting this recipe.

    • October 26, 2013 at 1:37 am: IsaChandra

      If you wanna just use your favorite melty vegan cheese, that would be cool. And no, the tortillas are corn.

  • October 25, 2013 at 10:14 pm: Andrea

    Is it possible to use ground coriander & cumin instead of the seeds? If so, what would the measurements be? I have everything to make this right now except for the seeds!

  • October 26, 2013 at 3:43 am: Invictus

    I just pulled this out of the oven. My whole house smells amazing! Thank you for another wonderful recipe.

    • October 26, 2013 at 6:33 am: IsaChandra

      Woohoo! Hope you love it :)

  • October 26, 2013 at 3:52 pm: JennO

    I am getting spoiled quick! Lovin these videos…right in time for fall weekend/football/family dinner nights! Thank you sooo much. The chili was AMAZING, by the way. Can’t wait to try this “cassie”! As a side note: I am all about free (who isn’t), but I would pay to have these show up in my e-mail through-out the week…on weekends…whatever. Not sure what you have planned…but I don’t want these to stop!

  • October 26, 2013 at 3:55 pm: JennO

    just saying ;)

  • October 26, 2013 at 4:16 pm: Dagmar

    Made it yesterday, it was delicious! Thanks!

  • October 28, 2013 at 3:52 am: chels

    Yum. Love the cashew cream touch. Probably a little better for you than the mayo mixture I always use from Vegan Mouse… :p

  • October 28, 2013 at 6:33 am: Kerry

    Wow, that looks very interesting. It looks like it was delicious once of course, can not wait to try this recipe with my daughter.

  • October 28, 2013 at 8:37 pm: Brigitte

    oooh my I just received your new book on my door step.. what can | say….. absolutely stunning and the recipes look delicious cant wait to start digging in.. thank you so much for another great and I mean GREAT cookbook..

  • October 28, 2013 at 9:55 pm: Tanja

    Super yum! I added a cup of corn to the filling.

  • October 29, 2013 at 1:52 pm: Amy

    This looks so beautiful and delicious, can’t wait to try them. Thank you, Isa, for another wonderful recipe.

  • October 30, 2013 at 5:09 am: Belle

    This looks delicious! Just wondering if kidney beans would work for the filling?

  • October 30, 2013 at 1:13 pm: Melissa W

    Can we use ground spices? Also do the cashews need to be raw? And can we use canned mushrooms? I’m making this soon and would like to know! :)

  • October 30, 2013 at 3:53 pm: Becky

    This is delicious! Worth it

  • October 31, 2013 at 1:50 am: Michelle

    Made it tonight. Wonderful. I refer to you as my “beloved Isa.”

    • October 31, 2013 at 2:02 am: IsaChandra

      That is sweet, thank you!

  • November 1, 2013 at 4:43 am: Vegan Shizuoka

    Great idea on move to video recipes!
    Happy vegan day! To all the VEGAN FAMILY, I love you guys so much.

  • November 1, 2013 at 7:09 pm: Andrea

    Hi Isa,

    Could you assemble this early in the day, stick in the fridge, then bake later?

    • November 2, 2013 at 1:48 pm: IsaChandra

      Yes, but I would put the cashew cream on right before baking.

  • November 4, 2013 at 4:48 am: Rachel

    I made this for my daughter’s birthday party and it was a huge success! It was easy enough to make on a very busy day, and delicious enough to appeal to everyone who came. It is GF, stick-to-your ribs, salty, creamy, toothsome vegan perfection. Thank you for sharing the recipe!

  • November 6, 2013 at 4:49 pm: April

    I just made this and it was amazingly rich, filling and delicious! I’ve never been disappointed with one of your recipes.

  • November 11, 2013 at 5:12 pm: Alysia

    I have been making enchiladas like this for a couple of years! I made them the “correct” way once and figured way waste all that time rolling things up when you end up eating them with a fork anyways. Isa makes everything simple! Love the new book!

  • November 14, 2013 at 10:34 am: Veganopoulous

    I made this, loved it, took terrible photos and blogged it. Thanks for another superfab recipe, every time the postman drives by without delivering my copy of Isa Does It, I spontaneously combust a little.

  • November 14, 2013 at 9:56 pm: KellySu

    YUMMY! Made this last night with 2-15 oz cans of trader joe’s fire roasted tomatoes and a 28 oz can of whole tomatoes, that sauce was killer! Definitely going to be a regular at my house. Thanks, Isa!

  • November 15, 2013 at 1:46 pm: jane

    yum! do you think this will hold up if i prepare it ahead of time, put in fridge for a few hours, and bake later in the evening?

  • November 19, 2013 at 8:38 am: Melissa

    I just made this tonight, and it is awesome! Your enchilada sauce is to die for. :) Thanks for another great recipe!

  • November 20, 2013 at 5:05 am: Karen

    Mine is in the oven right now. Cannot wait to have some. Was going to be for dinner tomorrow night. Not going to make it.

  • November 22, 2013 at 9:17 pm: Victoria

    That is a sweet Hodor shirt!! And the enchiladas look good too…I put them on the meal plan for next week.

  • November 26, 2013 at 2:50 am: Lo

    This recipe is awesome, really! Thank you. A little bit of work but worth it totally. Great confort food for the holidays… ;)

  • December 5, 2013 at 2:07 am: Katie

    I made this tonight, and it was delicious! And it was a huge hit with both of my parents. My mom is a mostly vegetarian but keeps saying she can’t give up cheese, but she said she didn’t miss it at all in this casserole. And my dad hates all vegan food and refuses to try anything I make, but even he tried this and seemed to enjoy it. Thanks so much for this recipe! :)

  • December 5, 2013 at 6:51 pm: dan

    can i use whole wheat tortillas or will they become too mushy?

  • December 7, 2013 at 9:16 pm: LiA

    Amazing recipe (can’t wait to cook it tomorrow!) and a very charming cook! :-) Love your videos!
    Greetings from Europe! ;-)

  • December 9, 2013 at 8:01 pm: Randi (laughfrodisiac)

    Hahah you said ‘Jewish girl enchiladas’ and I laughed, and then you said ‘It will explode and you will die’ and I laughed more. You’re my new favorite tv show.

  • December 10, 2013 at 2:56 am: Kelly Appleby

    Made this today and it’s definitely worth it. My only “notes to self are”:

    1) Some of my potatoes are not as soft as I’d like. I’m guessing this is because I either cut them a little to large, didn’t bake them quite long enough (or high enough heat) the first time, or didn’t smother them in enough sauce to help them get softer the second time ??? Super bummed but live and learn! Hopefully I will figure it out next time.

    2) The amount of cashew sauce was a little too much for me (still had a little left over) so next time I plan to layer a little of that inside the enchilada.

    3) I had about 3/4 cup – 1 cup red sauce left over. I followed the (add 1/2 cup, add 1 cup) “rules” but maybe I should have ‘smothered’ more as the video says.

    Thank you for a wonderful recipe! Just wanted to leave some notes in case it would help future chefs of this yum dish :) The videos are fun to watch, too. Detail maniacs like me will be excited if/when they get a little bit longer so (as Sting says) I can see every little step you take and every move you make… ;)

  • December 10, 2013 at 4:08 am: Madeline

    Hilarious video. And a yummy looking recipe! I love Jewish-girl Mexican food, it’s a specialty of mine.

  • December 13, 2013 at 6:24 am: Renée Marie

    Made this tonight after you inspired me with your super awesome video! I had never made the cashew cream, and I was a little unsure how it would turn out. AMAZING! Can’t wait to make your meaty beany chili next after these leftovers are gone!

  • December 14, 2013 at 4:35 pm: Neil

    The best! Took this to a potluck last night in San Antonio, and it got so much praise. Don’t worry I sent them your way :) Loving the new book!

  • December 19, 2013 at 5:36 pm: JJJ

    This looks incredible! Thanks for the homemade enchilada sauce recipe!!! I’m so excited to make this!

  • December 20, 2013 at 12:38 am: Catherine

    Could I use the cashew flour/ meal and add water as a cheater way to make the cashew cream? Just call me lazy, thanks for your AWESOME recipes. Veganomicon is my bible.

  • December 25, 2013 at 1:14 pm: Joy

    Made it…like it….will chop the potatoes a bit smaller next item…and there will be a next time!

  • December 25, 2013 at 7:44 pm: Alex and Miyuki

    We made it for A Vegan Christmas and it was hella good! Ahhhh! A lot of work but really worth it :) thanks Isa :) we also made vegan egg nog and the rosemary chocolate chip cookies! Keep up the awesome work!

    Your fans,
    Alex and Miyuki

  • December 28, 2013 at 6:06 pm: Cynthia

    I cannot wait to make this!!!

  • December 29, 2013 at 6:23 pm: Emily

    Made this a few weeks ago and ate it for every meal till it was gone. I have no regrets. I didn’t have any shrooms on hand so I used tempeh instead and it was tasty. My omnivorous husband ate it and loved it, especially the “cheese”!

    I did use whole wheat tortillas, but next time i’ll stick to corn because the wheat got really soggy.

  • January 2, 2014 at 2:58 am: Erin

    This was yummy! Omni hubby approved! Thank you, Isa!

  • January 7, 2014 at 4:07 pm: Tanya

    I LOVE your recipes and I LOVE your personality!!! Thanks soooo much for sharing your culinary genius with the rest of us… I would have a super tuff time staying vegan without your delicious food! :)

  • January 10, 2014 at 2:11 am: Julia V.

    So yummy! I make a somewhat similar recipe but I use sweet potatoes aswell as yukons. AND last week I made kale chips for the topping (sortof to replace the fritos my mom used to us, but also just for the delicious green crunch!)

  • January 16, 2014 at 8:13 pm: Jamie

    Hey I don’t know if its the same situation where other people live, but in Minnesota the price of cashews is exorbitant (organic or conventional) even for just a cup. I left out the white sauce and it was still delicious, but do you guys have any recommendations for a cashew sub?

  • January 17, 2014 at 11:16 pm: Aimee

    I made this on a Sunday and ate it for lunch and dinner until Wednesday, never once did i complain! It’s a delicious recipe and i can see myself making this often! I followed it exactly beside the following : I didn’t have cumin seeds or coriander seeds so I used ground, I also replaced the pinto beans for black beans.. I also used one28oz can of fire roasted tomatoes and a 28oz regular tomatoes… Everything turned out fantastic! I especially loved the cashew cream sauce!! This cookbook is on my must buy now

  • January 18, 2014 at 9:04 pm: Megan

    This is a wonderful recipe! I loved the combination of flavors and textures, and I was impressed at how well it held together when serving.I knew my blender wouldn’t handle the whole spices, so I toasted them and ground them in my spice grinder before I put them into the sauce. I also added a chipotle pepper in adobo for a little smokiness and bite. When I assembled it, since I had the sauce in a mixing bowl from using my immersion blender, I just dunked each tortilla in the sauce before laying in the pan, and then put a little sauce over each layer.This recipe will be a great framework for variations; I’m thinking about grilling zucchini slices and subbing for the mushrooms, or making the filling out of black beans, corn, black olives and green chiles. I liked this recipe so much I bought the book. Can’t wait to get it! Thank you!

  • January 22, 2014 at 3:13 pm: Lisa Zarov

    What can I substitute for the cashews if we cannot have peanuts/tree nuts in our recipes, due to allergies? Thank you!

  • February 2, 2014 at 2:31 pm: Bethy

    Looks delish! Making this for Super Bowl!

  • February 10, 2014 at 7:33 pm: Rita

    ZOMG!! This was even better than I’d imagined! I added a jalapeno and a can of Hatch chilis to the enchilada sauce, but aside from than that, I followed everything to the letter. It was a huge hit! My boyfriend hates the word “casserole” so I was careful not to let him see the recipe as I was making it. :) Thanks for all the great recipes, Isa!

  • February 12, 2014 at 2:05 am: Jolene

    I keep meaning to ask this question. I am allergic to nuts (all) and peanuts. I have substituted seeds for certain recipes, but haven’t experimented with sauces… Would sunflower seeds be an acceptable substitution for the cashews and pine nut recipes?

  • February 13, 2014 at 11:02 am: Haylea

    I made this for some meat eating friends who came over for dinner. They both came back for a second helping. It is absolutely delicious and perfect for a small get together. I would recommend this to anyone trying to feed non-vegan house guests.

  • February 13, 2014 at 5:14 pm: Stella

    Vegan enchilada casserole

  • February 15, 2014 at 1:56 am: Jim

    Just made this for my Valentine sweetie and kids. They were awesome helpers! Couple of mods, I’ll let you know how it goes. Thanks!

  • February 15, 2014 at 3:18 am: Jim

    UPDATE: This delicious meal went very well! My fiance is a huge fan of vegan Mexican food and the authentic taste it delivered made her very happy. My kids dove in for seconds! Thanks again!

  • February 18, 2014 at 3:44 am: frabjous

    This was SO GOOD! I halved the recipe and I ended up quartering my tortillas to make them fit in my 8×8″ baking dish. I was worried it would be a mess coming out of the pan, but I let it cool for a few minutes and it was easy and neat to cut into. Super-substantial, too: we were each full after one piece.

    I think next time I might try mushrooms *and* zucchini, or maybe even some spinach, just to add more green to it, but other than that I would not change a thing. Thank you for another great meal!

  • February 27, 2014 at 10:29 pm: cathy

    Everyone must make this. Its so so so good.

  • March 17, 2014 at 1:26 am: Anna

    Just made this with Purple kale and green beans in the filling. Too damn good!

  • March 22, 2014 at 12:27 am: Jen

    Has anyone used cashew meal instead of whole cashews? I was thinking it would eliminate the soaking step but was not sure about how many cups of whole cashews equal a cup of meal.

  • March 29, 2014 at 7:13 pm: adry Garcia

    hi, lovely recipe, but wouldn’t it be entomatadas? cause it doesnt have chili.

  • April 16, 2014 at 1:23 am: Tiffanie J.

    I got “Isa Does It” for Chirstmas and made this for my super-mid-west, non-vegan parents and they loved it so much that my mum asked for the recipe. Its not a quick recipe but damn, its delish! Thank you for being ah-mazing.

  • April 16, 2014 at 8:29 pm: Angela

    This looks GLORIOUS!!! hoping to try it friday, but my boyfriend is insisting on green sauce for it. Would you recommend your verde recipe instead of the red sauce?