Say hello to our Ninja-fied King Ranch Casserole, with green chile cashew queso, black beans, jalapeño, salsa & herbage … our healthy spin on an southwestern classic!
A King Ranch Casserole is typically baked and served in a 9X13 dish. We’re not sure why, but if you do, let us know. This casserole is traditionally laden with dairy-based cheese and made with chicken and cream-of-something canned soup. We’re not putting any of that foolishness into this wicked healthy version, because it’s even more delicious and memorable with compassionate methods front facing.
The rich cashew cheeze is seasoned with smoked paprika and miso, balanced out with the perfect amount of acidity to create a creamy-silky plant-based queso with chunks of hatch green chiles. Loaded with hearty greens, tomatoes and black beans layered in the middle, everything goes on top of halved tortillas similiar to a Mexican inspired style lasagna. When preparing, keep in mind you’ll be dividing your components into thirds so you can get beautiful even layers of ingredients and flavor that bake consistently, giving you a wicked awesome, plant-forward version of this Southwestern classic.
We’re also making our own Salsa Pico here, because making yer own is better than any of that crap you can buy in a jar. Fresh tomatoes, red onion, jalapeño, lime, cilantro and salt are combined and sit out at room temp while your casserole bakes for an hour or so. This simple mix adds a punch of fresh to the richness of the casserole, and makes enough to have plenty on the side.
Ninja-fied King Ranch Casserole
Serves: 4 or more
for the Green Chile Cashew Queso:
2 C butternut squash, raw
1.5 C raw cashews, soaked for at least an hour, drained
1/4 C garlic cloves (about 8-10)
1 T coarse salt (we like Jacobsen’s Sea Salt)
2 T rice vinegar
1 T white miso, heaping
1 T nutritional yeast (aka hippy fish food)
1 t cumin
1 t chili powder
1/4 t white pepper
1/2 sliced jalapeño (red or green)
1/2 t coarse salt
1/2 t smoked paprika
3/4 C almond milk
1/4 C canned or fresh and cooked hatch chili
for the casserole:
12 corn tortillas, cut in half
1 bunch Swiss chard, washed, rinsed, chopped
1, 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 medium onion, diced
½ C chopped parsley, lightly packed
2 C black beans, cooked
1 avocado, sliced
1 C crumbled or roughly chopped tortilla chips
for the Salsa Pico: (makes about 3 cups)
2 medium tomatoes, small dice
1 small red onion, small dice
1 jalapeño, seeds removed, rinsed and small diced
1 lime, juiced
1/4 C chopped cilantro, lightly packed
½ t coarse salt
¼ C picked cilantro leaves, lightly packed
6 cups cooked brown rice (for the side, if desired)
extra tortillas and chips
hot sauce (we always have plenty on the table)
To make the Green Chile Cashew Cheeze, in small saucepan, add butternut squash, cashews, garlic and 1 tablespoon salt. Cover with water and bring to a slow boil on medium-high heat for 10 minutes until butternut is completely cooked. Remove from heat to cool, drain and add mixture to a high-speed blender.
Add in remaining ingredients (except hatch chili) and blend for 3-4 minutes until wicked smooth, then add hatch chili and pulse for 5 seconds to incorporate but still leave it chunky.
When you are ready to assemble the casserole, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly but evenly spray a 9X13-inch casserole dish with oil. Layer 1/3 of the tortillas in the bottom, then top with 1/3 of the chopped chard. Combine the tomatoes, onion and parsley and layer 1/3 of that mixture, 1/4 of the green chile cashew cheeze, 1/3 of the black beans and 1/3 sliced avocado, so it’s evenly distributed. Repeat process two more times. Evenly add remaining Cashew Cream to the top and bake, uncovered, for 1 hour, or until bubbly and golden brown. Add the crumbled tortilla chips on the top and bake for an additional 5 minutes, keeping an eye on it to ensure they just turns slightly golden and do not burn.
While the casserole is baking, make the salsa pico by gently mixing all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Once bake time is done, remove casserole from the oven and let it sit for 10 – 15 minutes before serving.
To serve, top with a few tablespoons of the fresh Salsa Pico (save some for the side) fresh cilantro, jalapeño, lime wedge and brown rice, tortilla chips and hot sauce as desired.