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This Zucchini Enchilada Casserole recipe is stacked (instead of rolled) up with layers of sliced zucchini and your favorite enchilada ingredients. Feel free to add meat or make this casserole vegetarian.
It’s that time of year when zucchini is about to be overflowing gardens, farmers markets and CSAs everywhere. So I say…
…let’s put it to use in this zucchini enchilada casserole! ♡
This recipe is a riff on my favorite Tex-Mex-inspired chicken enchilada casserole recipe that I’ve made millions of times. But instead of using tortillas to stack those delicious layers upon layers of enchilada fillings, we’ll use long zucchini slices instead, which are quick and easy to make with a basic vegetable peeler or a knife. (Or if you happen to own a mandoline, this would be the perfect recipe to use it too!)
As with any of my enchilada recipes, the filling ingredients in this casserole are completely up to you. You can choose to add chicken, beef, pork, chorizo, or keep the casserole completely vegetarian. If you happen to have some cooked rice, quinoa, farro on hand, I love adding in a few cups to this casserole to make it a bit more hearty and also soak up any of the excess water that is released by the zucchini during cooking. And of course, feel free to chop up whatever leftover veggies happen to be hanging out in your crisper drawer to add those into the filling too! I just highly recommend making one of my homemade enchilada sauces (either red or green) to season this casserole. They are both incredibly delicious and only require a few extra minutes to prep.
The other great thing about this casserole is that it makes a big batch, making this one perfect to serve to a crowd or to create some excellent leftovers for the week ahead. So round up your favorite enchilada ingredients and slice some zucchini, and let’s make this casserole!
Zucchini Enchilada Casserole Ingredients
Before we get to the full recipe detailed below, here are a few notes about the zucchini enchilada ingredients that you will need to make this casserole:
- Zucchini: You will need 2 to 3 medium-sized zucchinis for this recipe, which I recommend thinly slicing with a vegetable peeler (as shown in the image above) or a mandoline. Or alternately, instead of making long strips, you could slice the zucchinis into thin round coins using a knife. In my opinion, there is no need to salt or drain off the excess water in the zucchini before adding it to the casserole, but you are welcome to if you prefer.
- Enchilada sauce: You guys know me — I’m always going to advocate for making homemade enchilada sauce over buying the store-bought stuff! I’m partial to my red enchilada sauce (or you could also use green enchilada sauce), which only takes a few minutes to prep and can then simmer while you prepare the rest of the casserole ingredients. But if you want to save time, a good-quality brand of store-bought sauce will also work too.
- Veggies: I made the casserole pictured above with a simple mix of onion, red bell pepper, jalapeño, corn and garlic. But feel free to clean out the crisper drawer and add in any other leftover veggies that sound good. (For example, cauliflower, mushrooms, sweet potato, carrots and/or tomatoes would also be delicious additions.)
- Rice: I like adding some rice (I used brown rice, but any kind will do), quinoa or farro to the casserole to make it extra hearty and help to soak up any of the excess water from the zucchini as it cooks. But you’re welcome to skip the rice if you would like to make this casserole low-carb or keto-friendly.
- Chicken: Feel free to add in a few cups of diced or shredded cooked chicken if you would like. I typically shred a rotisserie or some leftover baked chicken breasts. Or feel free to use ground or shredded cooked beef, pork, turkey or chorizo instead, or skip the meat altogether and make this casserole vegetarian.
- Beans: I also love adding in a can of pinto or black beans for extra protein. But feel free to skip the beans if you would like to make this casserole low-carb or keto-friendly.
- Cheese: I typically make this recipe using either shredded Mexican-blend, Pepperjack or Monterrey Jack cheese, but feel free to use whatever you prefer.
- Toppings: And finally, I highly recommend going big with your favorite toppings here. I love to sprinkle lots of fresh cilantro, diced red and green onions, and diced or thinly sliced jalapeño peppers on top of the casserole. Feel free to also drizzle on some Mexican crema, if you would like, and I highly recommend serving each slice with some fresh avocado too.
Tips For Making This Casserole
The full instructions for how to make this enchilada casserole are included below, but here are a few time-saving tips:
- Multitask your way through: To save time, I recommend prepping the enchilada sauce. Then while that cooks, chop and sauté the veggies and prep the enchilada filling. Then once the casserole is layered and baking, chop your toppings.
- Very thinly slice the zucchini: In order for the zucchini to cook through in the casserole, I recommend slicing it quite thinly (approximately 1/8-inch thick) with a vegetable peeler or a mandoline. If the zucchini is thicker, it will require more time to bake.
- Use a pre-cooked protein: I purchased a rotisserie chicken to shred and save time with this recipe. But you could also sauté a pound of ground beef, chorizo, or turkey for a quick protein option too.
Here are a few additional options for how to customize this zucchini enchilada casserole to your liking:
- Make it vegetarian or vegan: To make a vegetarian casserole, simply omit the meat. To make a vegan casserole, omit the cheese as well (or feel free to use vegan cheese).
- Make it gluten-free: This casserole is naturally gluten-free if made with rice or quinoa.
- Make it spicier/milder: Feel free to double or triple the amount of jalapeño peppers added to the filling to make this casserole even spicier (or you can also include their seeds to amp up the heat). Or if you prefer a milder casserole, you can omit the jalapeño peppers altogether.
- Use lentils: Feel free to use cooked lentils in place of the beans, if you prefer.
- Use different veggies: As mentioned above, feel free to chop up, sauté and add in any other veggies that you have on hand too, such as cauliflower, mushrooms, sweet potato, carrots and/or tomatoes.
- Add extra sauce: If you would like an even saucier casserole, feel free to add an extra cup (or two) of enchilada sauce.
More Favorite Enchilada Recipes:
Looking for more enchilada recipes to try? Here are a few of my faves:
This Zucchini Enchilada Casserole recipe is stacked (instead of rolled) up with layers of sliced zucchini and your favorite enchilada ingredients. Feel free to add meat or make this a vegetarian casserole!
- 1 batch homemade red enchilada sauce* (or 2 cups store-bought enchilada sauce)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 white onion, peeled and diced
- 1 large red bell pepper, cored and diced
- 1 jalapeño pepper, cored and diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 cups cooked rice* (or quinoa or farro)
- 2 cups (about 1 pound) shredded or diced cooked chicken*
- 1 (15 ounce) can pinto or black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup whole kernel corn
- 2 large zucchini, thinly sliced into strips*
- 3 cups (12 ounces) shredded Monterrey Jack or Mexican blend cheese
- recommended toppings: chopped fresh cilantro, diced red onion, sliced jalapeño peppers, sliced green onions, Mexican crema, and/or sliced avocado
- Prepare the enchilada sauce. Cook the enchilada sauce according to recipe instructions. While the sauce simmers, continue on with the steps below.
- Sauté the veggies. Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper and jalapeño and sauté for 6-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently, until fragrant. Turn off the heat.
- Combine the filling. Add the cooked rice, cooked chicken, beans, corn and 1.5 cups enchilada sauce (not all of the sauce) to the pan along with the veggies. Toss until evenly combined.
- Layer the casserole. Heat oven to 350°F. Mist a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 1/4 cup of the remaining enchilada sauce evenly in the bottom of the baking dish. Place a layer of overlapping zucchini slices on the bottom of the baking dish so that it is completely covered. Spread half of the chicken filling evenly over the zucchini, followed by 1 cup of the shredded cheese. Repeat with a layer of zucchini slices, chicken filling, and cheese. Finish with a final layer of zucchini slices, then drizzle the remaining 1/4 cup enchilada sauce atop the zucchini.
- Bake. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove pan and sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of cheese on top of the zucchini, and bake for 10 more minutes.
- Serve. Transfer pan to a wire baking rack. Add a generous sprinkling of your favorite toppings to the casserole. Then slice, serve and enjoy!
Enchilada sauce: I highly recommend using my homemade red enchilada sauce (or green enchilada sauce) to make this casserole. But if you would like to use store-bought sauce, just be sure to check the label to be sure that you have enough (16 ounces), since different brands vary the size of their cans.
Rice: The rice (or quinoa or farro) are optional ingredients, but I love the extra heartiness that they add to the casserole and they also help to soak up any excess water that the zucchini releases. One cup of uncooked rice generally yields about 3 cups of cooked rice. But feel free to use more or less if you prefer.
Chicken: I also typically shred a rotisserie for this casserole to save time. But you are welcome to use any kind of diced or shredded cooked chicken that you prefer. Or you can swap in a different meat (such as ground or shredded cooked beef, pork, chorizo, turkey, etc).
Zucchini: As explained in the post above, I typically just use a vegetable peeler to thinly slice the zucchini strips. But a mandoline or (very carefully using) a chef’s knife would also work. Or alternately, you can just slice the zucchini into thin round coins instead of strips and overlap those to form your zucchini layers.
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