For a meatless alternative to traditional enchiladas, whip up this easy and delicious vegetarian Lentil Enchilada Casserole recipe!
So it turns out I’m a bit of a casserole snob. When I hear the word “casserole” my mind goes to frozen vegetables, cream of something soup, and fried onions.
Total comfort food for lots of people… I’m just not one of them.
Casseroles are a big hit in my house and they make good leftovers to take to work.
Casseroles are easy to portion, fit nicely into Tupperware containers, and are easy to eat on the job.
I can only eat leftovers once (MAYBE twice) before my spoiled palate demands new flavors.
I’ve been working on coming up with an easy vegetarian casserole that doesn’t taste like it’s healthy.
Practically everything tastes better with some enchilada sauce and cheese on it, so here we are with a Lentil Enchilada Casserole.
Here’s what’s inside this vegetarian enchilada casserole: lentils, red quinoa, chopped green chilies, minced mushrooms, corn tortillas, enchilada sauce, and cheese.
Here are a few of my tips to make sure you nail this easy, meatless enchilada casserole dinner:
First, make sure that the lentils are *very* tender before you add them to the casserole. The time the lentil enchiladas casserole spends in the oven is more about warming everything up and melting the cheese, so the lentils need to already be melt-in-your-mouth consistency before they go in.
Next, you’ll likely need to tear the tortillas into weird shapes and sizes in order to achieve an even layer across the pan. Try to cover as much as possible!
Finally, do as I do and stick a few toothpicks into the lentil casserole before you cover it in foil.
The toothpicks prop the foil up so it doesn’t sink down and stick to the cheese while it bakes. That would be so tragic and I don’t want you to have to go through that.
I always hesitate to give topping recommendations for Mexican food because everyone has their favorites.
I loved cherry tomatoes, scallions, cilantro, and fresh jalapeno on this one. When we had leftovers, we topped a few pieces with avocado, sour cream, and pickled jalapeno and that was also delicious.
I’ll leave those important creative decisions for this Mexican lentil casserole up to you.
Here’s the Recipe!
Vegetarian Lentil Enchilada Casserole Recipe
- 1 1/2 cups brown lentils
- 1 cup red quinoa
- 1 lb brown mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 14.5 ounce cans Old El Paso™ Mild Red Enchilada Sauce, divided
- 2 4.5 ounce cans Old El Paso™ Chopped Green Chiles
- 1 lb shredded Monterrey jack cheese - divided
- 18 corn tortillas
- Optional Toppings: jalapenos - cherry tomatoes, scallions, cilantro
- Preheat the oven to 375°. Place the lentils in a large pot along with 6 cups of water and a generous pinch of salt. Bring the liquid to a boil and then add the quinoa. Once the mixture returns to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are very tender and the mixture looks mostly dry (about 20 minutes).
- Meanwhile, trim the mushrooms and place them in a large food processor. Pulse until minced. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the minced mushrooms and fry undisturbed for 2 to 3 minutes, until browned. Sauté until the moisture has evaporated and the mushrooms are evenly browned (about 3 to 5 minutes).
- Transfer the cooked quinoa, lentils, and mushrooms to a large mixing bowl. Stir in half of a can of enchilada sauce, both cans of chopped green chiles, and half of the shredded cheese.
- Pour half of a can of enchilada sauce into the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Use 6 of the corn tortillas, breaking them apart as necessary, to cover the bottom of the pan. Top the tortillas with half of the quinoa-lentil mixture.
- Use 6 more of the corn tortillas to cover the quinoa-lentil mixture. Pour another half-can of enchilada sauce over the tortillas. Scoop the remaining quinoa-lentil mixture into the pan, cover it with the remaining 6 enchiladas, and pour the last half-can of enchilada sauce over the top. Scatter the remaining cheese over the top of the dish, cover tightly with foil, and bake in the pre-heated oven for 25 minutes.
- After 25 minutes, remove the foil and switch the oven over to broil. Broil for 1 to 3 minutes, until the cheese has become bubbly and brown. Allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes prior to slicing. Garnish with desired toppings and serve.
Today’s recipe is sponsored by the wonderful people over at Old El Paso. Thank you for supporting the brands that support The Wanderlust Kitchen!
The idea is great, and with pre-made ingredients (i.e., El Paso or Ortega, or whatever is your fave!), it comes together in ZERO time! I grow so many varieties of chiles and freeze them that I just grab a couple out of the freezer. And I generally DO make my own enchilada sauce with canned tomatoes/dried chiles (again, that is more because I grow them, so I have them on hand!!!). And, in something like this, I just personally prefer omitting the quinoa or using brown rice (in my trial, I just left it out and made an elote-style corn side dish).
BUT DO NOT BE FOOLED!!! Lentils will fool any carnivore!!! They sub in GORGEOUSLY for any ground meat and, in this, the texture is SO GOOD!!! We’ve used them in Chili, Enchiladas, any place you’d use ground meat (including soups!), and my husband, who is NOT vegetarian, will flat-out tell you, “I don’t miss the meat! It FEELS like I’m eating meat!” The lentil texture is just enough chew to mimic it! And you cannot tell the difference, from taste (I’m NOT vegetarian, so I always sub broth instead of water, and I think it give it more umami – I know you used mushrooms in this, which would 100% do the trick, but I’m allergic, so I gotta improvise!). SERIOUSLY – do NOT be afraid to sub lentils!!! They cook up quick (black lentils require more time, but tan/green/red ones within 1/2 hour, for real!!!), and they are SO CHEAP!!! With meat costs going through the roof, I’ve stocked up!!! This is gonna be in the monthly rotation, 100%!
Hi Chrissie, I love your comments here! – Linda
It was good. I sauteed the mushrooms with minced onion & green pepper that I also threw in the food processor. I added some cumin, garlic & onion powder, oregano and smoked paprika to this and also tossed in some diced jalapeños. Pretty good! I think next time I’ll switch out the quinoa for brown rice to give it more of a “meaty” bite.
This was okay. It made a huge amount, which meant lots of leftovers. Yet ultimately I doubt I’ll make it again because the quinoa-mushroom-lentil filling was so mushy, and it tasted underseasoned. If I were to make it again, I would bump up the taste by using a homemade enchilada sauce (I like Alton Brown’s version from his Mexican lasagna), and I would add some liquid smoke and/or some fish sauce to increase the umami taste. As written, the recipe also dirties a few pans; I mixed up everything in the stock pot that the lentils and the quinoa had cooked in instead of a separate bowl.
Hi Marsha! Did you saute the mushrooms separately, or cook them with the quinoa and lentils? This could account for the excess moisture you mentioned.
Thanks for responding to my review. I didn’t find excess MOISTURE, I found excess MUSHINESS as well as blandness. And I sauteed the mushrooms separately.