Sincerely Carolina

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Because Sometimes a Casserole Just Works

by caroline

In case you didn't gather this from my post the other day, my mom is not exactly a cook. So, when I come to visit, she feels happy to have a personal "chef" under her roof. :D

But seeing as how it is just Dan and I (plus kitties) most of the time, I am used to cooking or baking for smaller parties. I am also keen on what dishes we both like, and I don't have to think about much more than that. So, when I come to visit my family, I always have to reassess and consider a few things, like:

1.) Deciding on a dish that will feed anywhere from 6 – 8 people.

2.) Everyone's individual likes and dislikes. (There are two teenage boys, and often my sister's picky fiance in the group … he hates mushrooms, salads with "stuff", peas, etc. Boo, hoo.)

3.) Can I make this a gluten-free dish and still please everyone?

Very often I come up with a plated dinner that makes everyone happy, like a stir-fry or fish entree with veggies and risotto. But sometimes it's fun to lean back on an old-favorite/crowd-pleaser — the casserole.

Now, let me start by saying this: My brother, Luke, has a favorite dish of mine that we have dubbed the Mexican Lasagna. It's pretty much exactly the way it sounds — gluten-free lasagna noodles with black beans, corn and spicy ricotta, and smothered in chili powder and Mexican cheese. It's like a tortilla and a lasagna had a baby!

So, when it came time to decide dinner last night, I wanted to make this for him, but realized we didn't have any gluten-free lasagna noodles on hand. But, alas, I do not give in that easily! I put the noodle to work (Ha! Pun completely intended.) and thought, "Why not make this lasagna into a casserole, using gluten-free noodles instead?"


I used all of the typical ingredients that I use in my Mexican Lasagna with a simple swap of the noodles. Here's how I worked it out:

Chees-a-licious Mexican Casserole(

(Print me!)

  • 28 oz. gluten-free pasta noodles, like rotini, penne or macaroni
  • 24 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 2-1/2 cups Mexican cheese
  • 4 1/2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup mild to medium salsa
  • 1 15.5 oz can black beans
  • 1/2 lb. (8 oz.) frozen corn

NOTES: I used Hodgson Mill Gluten-Free Brown Rice Elbows with Golden Milled Flaxseed, Lundberg Rotini Brown Rice Pasta and half of a bag of Tinkyada brown rice shells. I also used Kraft Shredded Mexican Style Four Cheese.



1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to package directions. Cook until al dente because the pasta will continue to cook when baked. Drain and transfer all pasta to a 9 x 13 casserole dish.

2.) In a medium bowl, mix together ricotta cheese, 1 cup of shredded cheese, 2 Tablespoons of chili powder and 1 egg until combined. Stir ricotta mixture into noodles.

3.) In a separate bowl, combine sauce, salsa, beans corn and 1-1/2 Tablespoons of chili powder. Stir sauce mixture into noodles.

4.) Top casserole with remaining 1-1/2 cups of cheese and 1-1/2 Tablespoons of chili powder.

5.) Bake for 25 minutes or until cheese begins to brown. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

No doubt about it — this casserole is chees-y ridiculous and worth every bite! I was sure to set off the decadence of the casserole with a side of roasted veggies: Brussels sprouts, broccoli, zucchini and onion topped with salt, pepper and Spike Vegit Magic seasoning. I love when some of the Brussels sprouts' leaves get crispy — delicious!

Note: This recipe is gluten-free. (If you have allergies or food sensitivities, always check specific manufacturer’s products for allergens and/or cross-contamination issues.)


I have a super-tasty gluten-free, vegan dessert recipe coming up for you later. I'm completely smitten and I think you will be, too!