beef and black bean tortilla casserole

Beef and Black Bean Tortilla Casserole

Every busy family needs at least one tortilla casserole in their recipe repertoire because, as Hailey says, it’s like lasagne but Mexican, and who doesn’t love lasagne? I myself prefer a chicken and salsa verde version but the rest of my family prefers this one which is fine because it’s actually a bit easier. It’s also very customizable so feel free to substitute with ground turkey or switch up the cheese, salsa or tortillas.

If you have many children or a couple hungry teenagers, you might not have a chance for leftovers but if you are a family of four with two eight-year-old girls you should be able to get three nights of meals out of this recipe. It freezes well. Serve it with a salad (I recommend this dressing Cilantro, Lime, and Pepita or this one Ranch Dip and Dressing) and some rice or quinoa to stretch out the meal.

Beef and Black Bean Tortilla Casserole

(10 – 12 servings)

olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 cup bell pepper, diced (any color you like)
1 pound ground beef
2 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tsp Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
freshly ground pepper
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce can) fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoon beef base and 15 ounces hot water OR 15 ounces beef broth/stock
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1/4 cup prepared chipotle salsa

8 large flour tortillas OR 12 corn tortillas

4 cups grated cheddar and/or jack cheese

Garnishes (optional)

sour cream
hot sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Instructions for Sauce

In a large skillet or dutch oven, preheat oil (enough to cover the bottom of the pan) on medium heat.

cast iron skillet with oil

Add diced onions, cook a few minutes until they start to turn translucent then add diced peppers and cook until they soften, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. Go ahead and gather your spices while you wait.

diced peppers and onion

Add ground beef, grate the garlic right in there, salt, M. oregano, chili powder, cumin, and freshly ground pepper. Using a spatula, break up meat and stir in spices until the meat, veggies, and spices are fully combined.

grating garlic into sauce

Turn heat up to medium-high and cook until all the meat is browned, stirring/turning often. Drain off and discard excess fat. You might have time to grate your cheese while it’s cooking.

draining excess fat from ground beef

Stir in canned diced tomatoes, undrained. (If you don’t have fire roasted just use regular diced tomatoes).

Muir Glen Fire Roasted tomatoes
diced tomatoes in meat sauce

Stir in hot water (I just used tap water and the tomato can to measure) and beef base or add pre-made beef stock/broth.

adding stock to meat sauce
beef base
beef base in sauce

Stir in tomato paste and bring to a simmer on medium heat, allow to cook for 10 – 15 minutes.

tomato paste

While the meat sauce is simmering, begin lightly browning the tortillas on a flat top griddle or in a saute pan. You may choose to skip this step, I do it because I think it helps the tortillas from getting “gummy” after they are cooked in the casserole. Just stack them on a plate and set aside when they finish browning – it should only take about a minute or less per side on medium-high heat.

browning tortillas

Taste your sauce and determine if it needs more salt/spice. Stir in salsa and taste it again. Add some hot sauce, red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper if you want more heat. Add a couple pinches of sugar if you need to tone the heat down. Remove from heat and get ready to put the casserole together.

adding salsa to sauce

layering instructions

Gather sauce, black beans, shredded cheese, and tortillas. Coat a 9×13 inch pyrex pan with cooking spray.

ingredients to layer tortilla casserole

Start with a very thin layer of sauce.

layering tortilla casserole

Top with 2 tortillas, break them up a bit if you want to fully cover the surface.

layering tortilla casserole

Top with slightly less than a quarter of the sauce (eyeball it). You’ll be doing 4 layers and want to end up with a little more sauce for the top layer. Top with a third of the black beans and slightly less than a third of the cheese.

layering tortilla casserole
layering tortilla casserole
layering tortilla casserole

Repeat. Then, for the third layer, repeat but skip the cheese, leaving the rest for the top. You will have used all the beans at this point.

Top the last layer of tortillas with the remaining sauce and cheese.

layering tortilla casserole
layering tortilla casserole
layering tortilla casserole

Bake in preheated 350-degree F oven for about 30 minutes until the cheese starts to brown and the casserole is bubbly. Allow it to cool at least 15 minutes before digging in.

tortilla casserole

I came across this quote on Pinterest the other day and I’ve decided to take it very seriously… :). Enjoy the weekend and make sure you have lots of laughs!!! Why wouldn’t you? It’s good for your health!

“People who laugh actually live longer than people who don’t laugh. Few people realize that health actually varies according to the amount of laughter.”
James J Walsh