layered chicken enchilada casserole
Who doesn’t need a healthy, quick, easy and delicious weeknight dinner recipe? This Layered Chicken Enchilada Casserole is ready in just 40 minutes, a snap to make, super yummy and kid friendly. The simple homemade enchilada sauce takes this dish over the top. Gluten Free version, too!
~ It’s Stephanie here with a new cookbook review!
What happens when two registered dietitians, Andy DeSantis and Julie Andrews, have a meeting of the minds? You get a super comprehensive book that is so much more than a cookbook. It’s more of a lifestyle book called The 28-Day DASH Diet Weight-Loss Program.
The first third of the book is dedicated to explaining the concepts and benefits of the DASH Diet, describing the important role that regular exercise, sleep and stress management play and then going into a detailed 28-day plan to help get you started. I love the holistic approach this book takes to improving your overall health. There is so much more to it than just a bunch of awesome recipes.
What is the DASH Diet
- DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension and was developed to help lower or control high blood pressure.
- Focus on eating more fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy foods, whole grains, fish, poultry and nuts.
- Cut back on foods that are high in saturated fats, cholesterol and trans fat.
- Limit sodium, sweets, sugary drinks and red meat.
As you can see this Layered Chicken Enchilada Casserole fits right into the DASH Diet approach. It features seasoned lean ground chicken, veggies, whole-wheat tortillas and low-fat dairy Greek yogurt. The flavor is really amped up with a little jalapeño, homemade taco seasoning and enchilada sauce and creamy avocado, fresh cilantro and cool yogurt toppings. It’s a real crowd pleaser!
How this Chicken Enchilada Casserole is Healthier
Saute The Vegetables First
- Sautéing the onions, bell pepper and jalapeño in a little avocado or organic canola oil helps to soften the vegetables and and gets those flavors all mingling together.
How to Add Flavor to the Chicken Enchilada Filling
- Spices: Ground chicken on its own is a bit bland, but throw in a little taco seasoning and chopped garlic and you’ll really get the party started. It’s always amazing to me how much a pinch of this or a spoonful of that spice can truly transform a dish, so open up that spice cabinet and go wild. The best part is that spices add so much flavor without adding calories or fat.
- Homemade Taco Seasoning: Have you ever looked at the ingredient list of some of those taco seasoning packets? Some of them are scary. Tons of added sodium and preservatives. Ugh! Making taco seasoning is easy. You probably already have most of the ingredients, so you’ll save money, too!
Make The Sauce From Scratch
- Now that you’re making your own taco seasoning you might as well take a few extra minutes and make your own enchilada sauce (keep reading for the instructions). You’ll be so glad you did! It’s super simple and delicious. And you’ll have extra to freeze, which is a good thing because your family is going to want you to make this layered chicken enchilada casserole again for sure.
- Get to layering! Trim the tortillas to fit in the pan and just start layering all of those yummy ingredients… meat, sauce and cheese and then bake. The casserole comes together in a snap and bakes in just 20 minutes.
I love that the ingredients are just layered into the pan and baked. Super quick and easy to throw together on a weeknight. And it reheats well making it an awesome next day lunch option, too.
You can make it gluten free by using corn tortillas and sub in ground turkey, lean ground beef or pork to mix it up. Topping it with creamy and cool low fat Greek yogurt, fresh cilantro and creamy avocado is in just one word… spectacular!
Canned enchilada sauce can sometimes include an entire days worth of sodium. Yikes!! Making it from scratch is not only healthier, but really delicious and it can be made ahead and frozen. It’s actually probably more economical, too.
How To Make Homemade Enchilada Sauce
- Heat 2 tablespoons avocado or organic canola oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Chop half an onion, add it to the pan and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Stir in 5 chopped garlic cloves and sauté for 30-60 seconds.
- Transfer the onion mixture to a blender, add 1 1/2 cups homemade stock or store-bought unsalted chicken or vegetable stock, one 28 ounce can no-salt-added crushed tomatoes, 2 tablespoons chili powder, 1 tablespoon cumin, 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper and puree until smooth.
- Use immediately or divide into smaller containers and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 2 months.
This recipe makes 6 cups of enchilada sauce and you’ll only need 2 cups for this Layered Chicken Enchilada Casserole, so just freeze the extra for an even quicker weeknight meal in the future!
The 28-Day DASH Diet Weight-Loss Program includes recipes for Breakfast and Smoothies to Snacks, Sides and Desserts and everything in between. I can’t wait to try the Peach Avocado Smoothie, Cauliflower Leek Soup, Italian Style Turkey Meatloaf and Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies.
So if you are looking for a plan to get you to a healthier and sustainable lifestyle, check out this comprehensive book. And it does’t hurt that there are a ton of super yummy recipes, as well.
More Main Course Casserole Recipes You’ll Love
This chicken and rice casserole is made entirely from scratch (no canned soup!)
A family tradition, this fish casserole is cheesy and comforting!
A classic combo: chicken and biscuits casserole, and left-over turkey also works.
This butternut squash lasagna is a great recipe to make for company.
Tell the kiddos it’s mac and cheese!! They’ll love this Macaroni and cheese with broccoli.
This healthy beef lasagna with spinach and basil is a fan favorite.
If you love enchiladas, then you have to try chicken chilaquiles
We like to call this butternut squash mac and cheese “grown up mac and cheese!”Print
This Layered Chicken Enchilada Casserole is adapted from the 28-Day Dash Diet. It is ready in just 40 minutes, a snap to make, super yummy and kid friendly. The simple homemade enchilada sauce takes this dish over the top. Gluten Free version, too! Serve with avocado, cilantro and Greek yogurt.
1 tablespoon avocado or organic canola oil
1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
2 pounds ground chicken
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 Tablespoons taco seasoning, *see note for homemade
6 (8-inch) whole-wheat flour tortillas, cut to fit the pan as needed *see note for gluten-free version
2 cups Enchilada Sauce, homemade or store bought
3/4 cup shredded Mexican-style cheese
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 9 x 11 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, red bell pepper and jalapeño and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes until soft. Add the ground chicken and sauté for another 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently to break up the meat, until the chicken is cooked. Stir in the garlic and taco seasoning. Remove from the heat.
Place two tortillas in the bottom of the baking dish overlapping as needed. Layer with 1/3 of the meat, 1/3 of the sauce and 1/3 of the cheese. Create another two layers, ending with the shredded cheese.
Bake for 20 minutes, until the cheese in melted and bubbly. Serve hot.
For a gluten free version substitute corn tortillas for the whole-wheat. *To make salt-free homemade taco seasoning stir together 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano (optional), 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper and 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper.
- Serving Size: 1/8 casserol
- Calories: 420
- Sugar: 6 g
- Fat: 7 grams
- Saturated Fat: 7 g
- Carbohydrates: 29 g
- Fiber: 6 g
- Protein: 28 g