Recipe: $8.85 | Per Serving: $1.11 | Yield: 8
There is nothing wrong with using your slow cooker in the summer! In fact, it is a genius idea when you don't want to heat up your whole house by turning on the oven. GENIUS I say. Slow cookers are really magical. And this Slow Cooker Quinoa Enchilada Casserole is a perfect dish. Spicy, from-scratch blender enchilada sauce mixed with beans and quinoa and vegetables, and optional cheesy deliciousness.
Also, I just want to note that you can get a lot of quinoa meals out of one little 1-pound bag. We made this casserole, Pesto Quinoa, Quinoa & Black Bean Salad, and we still had some leftover for eggs with quinoa and black beans. That's at least 16 servings from a 17-ounce bag of quinoa for $3.99. I feel like that justifies my "splurge" on quinoa last week. It was a really good choice.
You may remember this super easy enchilada sauce, which was greatly inspired by Pinch of Yum's recipe, and happily used in this awesome Red Enchilada Soup. (Which, coincidentally, is also basically Tortilla Soup, as my sister loves reminding me. I didn't know!) It's so easy and awesome, and while I won't say it tastes like any authentic Mexican food (like, IN Mexico) I've ever had, it certainly tastes a) delicious, and b) better than just about every TexMex enchilada-like dish I've ever had.
This is one of those meals that seems way too easy to be healthy or way too healthy to be delicious, but my friends, this is the trifecta. And at just over $1 per serving, it's super affordable too! Assuming you have a slow cooker of some kind. (Don't worry - you can get one for $30 on Amazon.) And since you remembered to prep this the night before and store it in your fridge (or maybe you woke up in the middle of the night remembering that you left it on the counter), and then you also remembered to actually turn your slow cooker on in the morning before work, you've now got all kinds of time after work to set about prepping your favorite toppings while it cools down enough to eat.
Suggested toppings to quickly prep:
- fresh tomatoes
- pico de gallo
- more cheese
- ground beef (sure, why not?)
- lime juice
- crispy tortilla strips
- more vegetables...?
When you look at the ingredients list below, it seems like a lot because of the homemade sauce, but it's really not. Don't be intimidated. The homemade enchilada sauce comes together in the blender in just a couple of minutes, but you can also skip it for the store-bought stuff instead. You do you.
Slow Cooker Quinoa Enchilada Casserole
For the Casserole:
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa rinsed
- 4 cups quick homemade enchilada sauce or 2 15-ounce jars storebought sauce
- ½ medium-large onion diced
- 2 bell peppers diced (or 1.5 cups vegetables of choice)
- 3 cups cooked black beans
- 2 cups frozen spinach thawed or frozen
- 1 cup shredded or crumbled cheese queso fresco, cheddar, Mexican blend, etc.
For the Optional Quick Enchilada Sauce (double portion of the original recipe):
- 1 medium onion
- 8 cloves garlic
- 2 jalapeños
- 28 ounces whole or diced tomatoes
- 2 Tablespoons chili powder not spicy
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 1-2 cups water or stock depending on how watery your canned tomatoes are
- For the Enchilada Sauce: Combine all ingredients except the water in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Add water until desired consistency is reached.
- For the Slow Cooker Casserole:Grease your slow cooker insert if you’re worried about it sticking. Then pour in the rinsed quinoa and the enchilada sauce. Stir well. Top with the onions and bell peppers, then the black beans, and finally the spinach. (You want the quinoa at the bottom so it is submerged in the liquid.) Place the spinach on top and cover. Cook on HIGH for 3 hours. (Or on LOW for about 6 hours).
- Remove the lid and add 1 teaspoon of salt, then stir well. Top with cheese if desired and cover for another 15-30 minutes to let the cheese melt. You can leave it on top or mix it in, your choice!
- Remove lid and add about 1 Tablespoon lime juice and serve. Top with your favorite toppings like fresh tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, greek yogurt/sour cream, more lime juice, etc.
Feel free to experiment with different additional seasonings or store-bought enchilada sauce. You can also use any kind of cheese, but I just happened to have queso fresco in my fridge.
You can also mix in about 1 pound of fully cooked ground beef. I’d stir it in with the beans before adding them to the slow cooker.