Texas Stacked Enchiladas with Corn and Black Beans

DinnerQuick and EasyVegetarianEnchiladas

Think of these as a deconstructed enchilada: warm corn tortillas layered with sweet corn, black beans, cheese, and spicy salsa. They're quicker and easier than traditional enchiladas, great for a weeknight meal!

Photography Credit: Sally Vargas

In my early days of cooking, I had a friend from California who introduced me to what she called Texas Enchiladas. Instead of the usual filled and rolled enchiladas, the tortillas were fried, dipped in sauce, sandwiched with filling and then stacked in layers.

I have not been able to discover the exact origin of this version of enchiladas, but I think they are popular in Northern Mexico, west Texas and in New Mexico.

The bottom line: delicioso!

Vegetarian Enchilada Stack dip the tortilla in the sauce

INGREDIENTS FOR TRADITIONAL ENCHILADAS

In Mexico, there are as many ways of making enchiladas as there are cooks and every family has a favorite recipe. Generally speaking, there are four components to traditional enchiladas: tortillas, sauce, filling and garnishes.

  • Fried Tortillas: In Mexico, the tortillas are either dipped in sauce and fried briefly in oil, or fried just until they start to crisp and then dipped in the sauce. Corn tortillas are preferred for enchiladas because they have a lot of flavor and don’t tend to fall apart when dipped in the sauce, whereas flour tortillas are more likely to disintegrate. The first method of dipping and then frying sounds counterintuitive, but the sauce is often uncooked; it literally fries in oil after the tortilla is dipped in it. This said, I prefer the second method because it creates a barrier and keeps the tortillas from becoming soggy and falling apart and when they are dipped in the sauce.
  • Pureed Chili Sauce: The sauce itself can be made from any number of types of chiles. Many chiles, such as poblanos and anchos, are commonly dried for long-term storage and then reconstituted in hot water. In a sauce, the rehydrated chiles are pureed until smooth with garlic and onions. It is not a thick sauce, but resembles the consistency of heavy cream. Once pureed, the sauce is often cooked again in a little oil to blend the flavors.
  • Lots of Filling Options: A wide range of fillings—shredded meat, cheese, vegetables and beans—make enchiladas a versatile dish that conforms to its probable original purpose: to use up leftovers, including leftover tortillas.
  • Fresh Garnishes to Go On Top: Finally, garnishes like cheese, radishes, cilantro, crema (which resembles thin sour cream), chopped onions, and fried eggs are just a few of the choices available to the cook.

SIMPLIFIED INGREDIENTS FOR STREAMLINED “STACKED” ENCHILADAS

 In my quest to replicate my friend’s recipe I considered how to streamline the enchilada process to make it faster and easier. Each component takes from 8 to 12 minutes to complete and most can be prepared in advance.

  • Baked (Not Fried) Tortillas: I love the slightly chewy texture of fried tortillas in the sauce, but hate the frying part. Instead, I brushed them with oil and baked them, which gave them just enough crispness to hold together when dipped in the sauce.
  • Quick Sauce with Canned Tomatoes: This is a quick hack of a sauce—no dried chilies, just ancho chili powder pureed with canned tomatoes, cooked in a large, deep skillet to blend and meld the flavors. The sauce is already in the pan, ready for dipping the tortillas.
  • Easy Vegetarian Filling: A quickly made filling of canned beans and frozen corn with a little onion heated in the microwave is a no-brainer in terms of time and effort. Cooking the onion with the corn softens the harshness of the onion. Add the beans to heat the filling until hot. 
  • Pick a Few Simple Garnishes: I chose just a few of the usual suspects: avocado for creaminess, radishes and cilantro for freshness, and crumbled queso fresco for a salty, cheesy component. If you can’t find it, substitute feta cheese, grated cheddar, or Monterey Jack.

Vegetarian Stacked Enchiladas

HOW TO SERVE STACKED ENCHILADAS

Each stack needs to be assembled individually and takes about 2 minutes to put together.

You could serve each stack as it’s finished, if you don’t mind people starting to eat at different times.

Alternatively, you can assemble the stacks on a baking sheet and warm them in a 350ºF for 5 minutes, or until they are hot. Add the garnishes just before serving.

If you like, place the garnishes in small bowls on the table for diners to pass around.

MAKE-AHEAD ENCHILADA STACKS

You can make the sauce, bake the tortillas, and make the filling several hours in advance or up to one day ahead.

Place the “fried” tortillas in a plastic bag, and pack the sauce and filling in separate containers. Store all of this in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use.

Reheat the sauce in a deep skillet, warm the tortillas for 5 minutes in a 350ºF oven, and reheat the filling in the microwave. Prepare the garnishes at the last minute.

MORE ENCHILADA RECIPES

Texas Stacked Enchiladas with Corn and Black Beans Recipe

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  • Prep time: 25 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

For the sauce

  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ancho chile powder, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

For the tortillas

  • 12 corn tortillas (6 to 7-inch size)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

For the filling

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red or yellow onion
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch black pepper
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

For the garnishes

  • 4 ounces queso fresco, crumbled (or feta or Monterey jack)
  • 1 ripe avocado, cut into slices
  • 4 to 6 radishes, thinly sliced
  • Leaves from 1/4 bunch cilantro

Special equipment:

  • 2 baking sheets

Method

1 Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

2 Make the sauce: In a blender, puree the garlic, onion, tomatoes, flour, chili powder, oregano, salt and water until smooth.

In a deep skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the sauce and cook, stirring often, until it comes to a boil.

Lower the heat and cook the sauce at a steady simmer for 10 minutes. It may sputter like mad, so either stir often or top with a spatter guard. The sauce should have the consistency of heavy cream. Add more water to thin it if necessary.

Note: you may have a bit more sauce than you need. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days and used for leftovers.

Vegetarian Enchilada Stack make the sauceVegetarian Stacked Enchiladas Blend the Sauce

3 Bake the tortillas: Using a pastry brush, brush both sides of one tortilla with oil and place it on a plate. Set a second tortilla on top and brush the top with oil. Continue to brush and stack the tortillas in the same manner.

When done, press down on the stack gently so that that both sides of each tortilla are lightly coated with oil. This way, all the sides get covered with oil as you create the stack.

Spread them out on two baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes, or until slightly crisp at the edges.

Note: You can prepare the tortillas up to a day ahead. Cool completely, then transfer to a plastic zip-top bag and store at room temperature.

How to Make Stacked Enchiladas brush the tortillas with oil

4 Prepare the filling: In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the onion, corn, salt and pepper. Microwave for 2 minutes. Add the beans and microwave for one minute longer, or until the filling is hot all the way through. Cover and keep warm.

Note: The filling can be prepared up to a day ahead and refrigerated. 

5 Assemble the enchiladas: Set 4 plates next to the stove.

Dip one tortilla in the sauce and set it on one of the plates. Spread 2 tablespoons of the filling over the tortilla. Dip a second tortilla in the sauce and place it on top. Spread with 2 more tablespoons of the filling. Dip a third tortilla in the sauce and place on top of the stack. Spoon a little more sauce over the top.

Sprinkle the stack with one-fourth of the cheese, one-fourth of the avocado slices, one-fourth of the radishes and top with one-fourth of the cilantro leaves.

Repeat with remaining tortillas, sauce, and garnishes.

If desired, transfer each stack to a baking sheet in a 350°F oven to keep warm as you finish assembling the rest. Serve all the stacks together at once.

Vegetarian Enchilada Stack dip the tortilla in the sauceHow to Make Stacked Enchiladas with Corn and Black Beans assemble the ingredients

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Sally Vargas

Sally Pasley Vargas is a freelance writer and the author of three cookbooks (Food for Friends, The Tao of Cooking, Ten Speed Press, and The Cranberry Cookbook). She currently writes the column The Confident Cook for The Boston Globe along with seasonal recipes for the Wednesday Food Section.

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6 Comments / Reviews

No ImageTexas Stacked Enchiladas with Corn and Black Beans

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Autumn Perales

    As a Tex-mex native, they’re not called stacked enchiladas, they’re called enchiladas montadas and they’re topped with a fried egg. We don’t put beans or corn in them.

  2. WileyP

    I have seen stacked enchiladas served in Texas and also in Arizona. When they are on a menu, you will see them listed as “New Mexico Style” enchiladas. Why? Because they are indeed a New Mexico thing! As a New Mexican myself, I was not even aware that enchiladas could (or would) be served rolled until I was into my 20s and had moved out of state! flat enchiladas are among the top reasons why I retired back in New Mexico!

    • Jane M.

      Fellow New Mexican here, Wiley. And… we all know that Hatch dried hot red chiles makes the best enchilada sauce in the world. BTW, do you put a fried egg, over easy, on the top of your stack? Someone (when I lived in NM) once called it “Santa Fe” style enchiladas which had chopped onions and grated Colby cheese heavily sprinkled over each dipped tortilla, usually 4-5 layers.

  3. KJill

    My DH was just telling talking about how his mother made these strange stacked enchiladas when he was a kid. His parents had been stationed at an air base in Texas in the 1950’s. We lived in southern New Mexico for years and never saw these so he just wondered if it was a weird thing only his mother did. I don’t know what she put in them but there wouldn’t have been any chiles involved, black pepper is pushing it for her. We love ancho chile so I am excited to try this version for him.

  4. Bebe

    A Mexican in-law years ago taught me to make rolled enchiladas. She always used corn tortillas, preferably yellow, and fried the tortillas before dipping them in the sauce. She used canned La Victoria enchilada sauce. (You’d be amazed to find out how many great Mexican cooks are not purists about doing everything from scratch. Pragmatists, they say “why bother?”) She did this for rolled enchiladas one at a time. The frying was not a big deal. A small amount of oil in a cast iron skillet, the tortilla slipped in and left for only a few seconds, then out again.

    Her enchiladas and my copies were the best I’ve ever eaten.

    Must try this, although I really like the rolled ones so much!

    • Bebe

      Ha! Just scrolled down to read the rolled enchilada recipe below and lo and behold, there is a Reply from me that says about the same thing I’ve said regarding this recipe.

      I will add one thing: The same aunt-by-marriage taught me to make tacos. Instead of adding shredded lettuce to them, she used the shredded lettuce dress with vinegar and a little salt. Maybe a very little oil.

Vegetarian Stacked EnchiladasTexas Stacked Enchiladas with Corn and Black Beans