This vegetarian Mexican recipe is a delicious casserole with refried beans, spinach, salsa, and lots of melted cheese! These kicked up flavors will make for an easy meal and leftovers are even better on day two!
First Published: September 17, 2013... Last Updated: May 1, 2020
👩🏻🍳 Recipe Back Story
This vegetarian Mexican recipe is kind of like a lasagna, but with a Mexican spin. Tortillas play the part of the lasagna noodles, salsa and a southwest corn blend provide great flavor and chunks of veggies.
Fiesta style shredded cheese melts into a gooey, cheese-y, deliciousness that holds the whole thing together. The result is a flavorful, fun dish that is easy and healthy, too. (Shhhh…don’t tell the kids, but I snuck some fresh spinach in there as well, to give it a little extra nutritional boost!!)
Served with a Chipotle Lime Slaw and a handful of corn chips - just like that, dinner is ready!
I am always excited to make a dish where I can do all the work up front (not too much work, though!) and then forget about it while it cooks. The crock pot is perfect for that, as are casseroles and other baked dishes.
This recipe is great because you put it together, throw it in the oven, and then go about your business until it is ready. While you are waiting, you can do the laundry, empty the dishwasher, help the kids with their homework, etc. OR, here’s a better idea...sit down, put your feet up, and relax for a bit! Maybe even have a little glass of wine! Either way, you will still have a great meal ready for the whole family in 25 to 30 minutes. 🙂
🥘 Ingredients Needed
Here are the ingredients I used for this recipe. I like keeping my meals low calorie and low fat BUT I know times are trying right now - so please feel free to substitute with the items you have in your pantry and refrigerator.
- whole wheat tortillas (you can substitute regular flour tortillas)
- fat free refried beans
- chunky salsa
- Seasoned Southwestern Corn (you'll find this in the frozen section)
- fresh baby spinach
- reduced fat fiesta blend shredded cheese (or any mild cheese)
- green onions
- Preheat the oven and prepare the pan by spraying with non-stick cooking spray. Place a tortilla in the bottom of the pan, spread refried beans on the tortilla, and then top with salsa.
- Distribute corn evenly on top.
- Top with a handful of the spinach and then cheese.
- Place the second tortilla on top.
- Repeat layering of the beans, salsa, corn, spinach, and cheese.
- Place the third tortilla in the pan. Top with remaining salsa and cheese. Sprinkle with green onion.
- Bake until hot and bubbly.
💭 Top Tips
What sauce is best?
I use salsa. It's a staple pantry ingredient that I always have on-hand. It's fat free and low cal - a total win/win! If you don't have salsa, consider substituting with red or green enchilada sauce. Salsa verde would also be a great swap!
What cheese is best?
The prepackaged/shredded fiesta blend is my first choice because there are already spices added to the cheese. Less work for you - yay! But if you need to substitute that, almost any shredded cheese would be terrific - pepper jack, cheddar or Queso Fresco would be great choices.
Queso Fresco is a Mexican farmers type cheese. It's super melty and very delicious!
How spicy is it?
That really depends on the salsa you use. There's no additional spices, I used a mild salsa and it wasn't spicy in the least, just flavorful.
One of the secrets to this dish is to use Bird's Eye Seasoned Southwestern corn (in the freezer section). It has some additional seasoning, and red and green peppers and onion. But, if you don't have it on hand, you can always use regular frozen corn and you should be fine.
📖 Variations for this vegetarian Mexican recipe
What else can I add to the casserole?
If you want to veg it up, sautéed onions and peppers would be a great addition, and sliced black olives add a pop of salty goodness!
A sprinkle of minced cilantro adds a bright pop of green when it comes out of the oven.
Also, you can adjust the amounts or substitute ingredients in the recipe as you wish. Love refried beans? Increase the amount on each layer. Watching your sodium? Substitute low sodium salsa. It is a very forgiving recipe, which gives you tons of options!
Make your own tortillas
You can complete the meal with some homemade flour tortillas. Don't stress, they are super easy to make, yummy too!
We have been trying to minimize our consumption of meat lately, so I specifically set out to create a vegetarian Mexican recipe. But that doesn't mean that you can't enhance this with some cubed cooked chicken, or some browned ground beef! Experiment based on what your family likes best.
Like lasagna, only better!
This vegetarian Mexican recipe is cheesy, filling and delicious but not a heavy meal. The salsa and vegetables keep it fresh and light.
What the picture does not illustrate is that my family was behind me in the house, hungrily waiting for me to decide that I had enough pictures so that we could actually have dinner! Thanks, guys, for being so patient!!
🥗 More Recipe Suggestions
If you like this vegetarian Mexican recipe, you will love my Dorito Casserole, with layers of chips, beans, salsa, and olives sandwiched between sour cream and cheese!
Mexican Mac 'n Cheese is truly the stuff dreams are made of (my dreams anyways!) rich, cheesy and satisfying. Or my Enchilada Bake, made in the crock pot (love that!) is another great meal. If you're a meal planner, this one is perfect because it's freezer friendly!
Vegetarian Mexican Casserole Recipe
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📋 Recipe Card
Fiesta Lasagna-Vegetarian Mexican Casserole
- 3 10 inch whole wheat tortillas (or your favorite)
- 16 ounce can fat free refried beans (or regular)
- 16 ounce jar chunky salsa (your favorite)
- 10.8 ounce package Bird's Eye Seasoned Southwestern Corn (found in the frozen section)
- 4 ounces fresh baby spinach (about 2 large handfuls)
- 1 1/2 cups reduced fat fiesta blend shredded cheese (or any mild shredded cheese)
- 1/4 cup green onion (chopped)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Spray a 9 inch cake pan or pie tin with cooking spray. Place one of the tortillas in the bottom, letting the edges go up the sides if the tortilla is a bit bigger than the pan.
- Spread about half of the refried beans on the tortilla, then about a third of the salsa.
- Distribute about half of the corn evenly on top.
- Spread out a handful of the spinach and top with about a third of the cheese.
- Place the second tortilla on top. If the tortilla is larger than the pan, trim the edges so that it fits better (it doesn't need to be perfect, though).
- Repeat layering with the remaining beans, another third of the salsa, the remaining corn, the remaining spinach, and another third of the cheese.
- Place the third tortilla in the pan and trim edges if needed. Top with remaining salsa and cheese. Sprinkle with green onion.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes.
- This is a very forgiving vegetarian Mexican recipe, so don't stress too much about measuring exactly. I tend to just eyeball it.
- You can substitute shredded colby jack, monterey jack, or mild cheddar if you can find the fiesta blend.
- You can substitute regular frozen corn, or use canned southwestern corn instead. If you use regular corn, you might want to throw in some chopped bell pepper. Or not! It's totally up to you!
- Once you have all the layers, don't worry if it seems like it is piled a little high. The spinach really cooks down in the oven.
- For some really festive fun, serve with lime wedges and avocado slices.
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