Let me start out by saying I’m in this awesome group that joyously trashes inauthentic Mexican food. I love it! I think this dish would be a good contender for the group, but I probably won’t submit it.
From the group, I’ve learned so much about regional Mexican cooking and the United States’ obsession with cheese (and olives) in relation to Mexican cuisine.
I’m not sure what this casserole would be called in any part of Mexico; honestly, I’m not sure if it would even be a cultural dish, though I can’t imagine Mexico doesn’t have some kind of a layered casserole like this.
First, we start with a spicy salsa verde. We made this by roasting tomatillos, onions, and hot peppers at 425F for about a half hour. Once roasted, we put it all in the food processor until smooth, and salted to taste. In the instance below, I have mixed salsa verde with the salsa roja (regular tomato-based salsa) to keep up with the garden. Traditionally, I make salsa verde with only onions, tomtatillos, a variety of peppers, garlic, cilantro, lime juice and salt.
We had a large patty pan squash that we sliced thinly, and added a layer. We made a layer of Anaheim pepper rings, too. Justin made a block of tofu “cheese,” and we made a layer of that, too. I know. It’s getting way out there, but we’re vegetarian.
Because we often have to capitalize on time, and this casserole was intended to eat cold through the week, we made jackfruit “tacos” (corn arepa shells) and then used the leftovers of that to build more layers into the casserole.
And here it is:
I think it held together so well because of the tomatillo sauce. Tomatillos are rich in pectin, like apples, so they can thicken up a lot of dishes on their own.
I don’t want to minimize the amount of work these kinds of dishes can be, but I do want to emphasize how a little planning can take some of the pressure off. Essentially, we just piggyback off one meal into the next.
We also like to eat cold casseroles on hot days, so we try to cook in the evenings when nights are a bit cooler. Still, our place is small, and the short time the oven and stove were on did make the kitchen unbearable for a while.
In any case, it was worth it: it was a great pie. Better still only about 350 calories for 1/4 of a 9” square baking dish! In fact, it went so well, we made another one! Same idea, but some different layers.
If you know if a cultural dish like this – México or not, please let me know the name. I would love to make a more authentic version, vegetarian, of course.