Lightened-Up Mexican Casserole (Vegetarian and Gluten-free)

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Mexican Casserole (vgGrowing up, I don’t remember my mother making a single casserole.  I remember her chili, rigatoni with peas, pork chops, meatloaf, and some great chicken dishes, but no casseroles.

Casseroles were something we only ate when family members brought them to holiday meals.  In fact, one of my favorite things about holiday meals was my aunt’s broccoli casserole.  It’s one of the few things she cooks, but man, does she do it well.  She’s told me the recipe.  Given the amount of cheese and butter, there is a reason that it’s so delicious, but this means it should remain reserved for special occasions!

So, I didn’t really understand the appeal of the everyday casserole until I started cooking after college.  Then I realized how nice it was to throw everything in and have a one-dish meal.  I even made some of those chicken and condensed soup casseroles.  Obviously, I’ve left those behind, but I didn’t abandon all casseroles.  This one is both vegetarian and gluten-free, but has plenty of great tex-mex flavor.

Mexican Casserole spoon

This recipe is actually a lightened up version of the Mexican casserole that Tim grew up eating.  I’ve made that version, but it includes white rice, lots of cheese, and sour cream.  Since it is one of Tim’s favorites, I wanted to find a way to make it a little healthier.  Changing from white to brown rice was the obvious first step.  Then I swapped out low fat Greek yogurt for the sour cream and reduced the amount of cheese.  To add a little kick, I also threw in some cumin and some chopped chipotle peppers.  This is perfect if you like spicy, but if you prefer a mild dish, you will want to just one pepper instead of two, and use a mild salsa!  If you make the rice ahead of time, this comes together quickly and dinner can be on the table in just over an hour, most of that cooking time.  I hope you like this version as much as we do!

mexican Casserole SQ

Lightened Up Mexican Casserole (vegetarian and gluten-free)

Serving Size: 4 main dish servings


  • 3 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup corn, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1 can (~3.8 oz) sliced olives
  • 1 can (~15 oz) black beans
  • 1 can (~14.5 oz) tomatoes with chilis (like Rotel)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (cheddar or a mexican blend)
  • 1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped fine


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly oil a 9x9 casserole dish.
  2. Using a very large bowl, mix all of the ingredients except for 1/2 cup of the cheese until well blended.
  3. Transfer to the casserole dish and cook at 350 F for 45 minutes.
  4. Add the remaining cheese evenly to the top of the casserole and cook for an additional 15 minutes.
  5. Serve hot.