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CHICKEN ENCHILADA CASSEROLE: It's Prep-Ahead-Easy-Cheesy Goodness!

Last week my Mom came over to watch the Vice-Presidential debate with us and spend the night. She usually shows up around mid-afternoon carrying a bottle of wine which we immediately crack open. Needless to say, by five o’clock, after a couple hours of wine and chat, I no longer want to cook dinner! (Anybody else been there??).

My Mom doesn’t like to cook nor does she like take-out (unless it’s pizza). So, rather than having to dig through our refrigerator/freezer looking for something quick and decent for dinner (that is not presently frozen!), I decided to prep my old standby ahead of time: a layered Chicken Enchilada Casserole.

Although my family really loves this, I’m not normally a casserole fan. And this is not a fancy dish. Nor is it particularly low calorie. But it is fast, easy, super-yummy and cheesy(!), and, most importantly, you can prep it ahead of time, then pop it in the over later. Served with a quick bagged salad and (yet another) glass of wine, it’s a satisfying and delicious dinner.

So last Wednesday, at 1pm I spent ten minutes assembling this casserole; at 5pm (after half a bottle of wine) I preheated the oven; at 5:15 the casserole was baking, and by 6pm we were in front of the tv enjoying our dinner and watching the debate!

Chicken Enchilada Casserole (Serves 6)

1 package of corn tortillas (about a dozen tortillas)

2 cups of grated cheese (Mexican cheese, cheddar, Monterey Jack)

1 jar of Trader Joes Salsa Verde (12 ounces)

2 or 3 cans of chicken (12.5 ounces each)

1 small can of sliced olives, or chiles for more heat (optional)

If you plan to cook the casserole right away, preheat your oven to 350F. For this amount of ingredients, I use a medium baking dish (10”x 8”x 3”H). Spray your baking dish with Pam.

Now pour in about 1/3 cup of the Salsa Verde and spread it around the bottom of the dish. Next make three layers of the ingredients. Start with your tortillas. (My dish allows two tortillas side by side, and I cut one more in half to cover the empty areas.) Then spread 1/3 of the canned chicken over the tortillas, another 1/3 cup of salsa, some sliced olives and a very generous sprinkle of cheese over it all. Make two more layers like that. Finish by adding a final layer of tortillas and top with more cheese. Cover with non-stick foil.

At this point you can pop the casserole into the oven to bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil for the last 10 minutes of cooking to melt and brown the cheese topping. Alternatively, you can refrigerate it for up to two days, then cook. Enjoy!


-Like lasagna, you can expand this recipe to serve more people. Just use a larger baking dish and/or increase the number of layers.

-I prefer to use a deeper baking dish because it keeps the casserole from drying out. However, a larger, shallower dish provides more surface for the melty cheese topping, so…it’s up to you!

-You can use any green chile salsa for this recipe, but I like Trader Joes Salsa Verde (

-Don’t forget the Pam, or you’ll regret it. I’m just saying.

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