Spinach and chicken enchilada casserole uses sliced polenta in place of the tortillas. No filling and rolling! This is a dinner shortcut you will thank me for!
I used to be wary of the word casserole. Memories of childhood! Now I love them! That either speaks to my age, or that I know how to make a good one. Read on for this delish recipe.
This spinach and chicken enchilada casserole tastes like your favorite homemade enchiladas, each individually filled, wrapped and baked, but it's ten times easier to make!
The secret to these chicken enchiladas is prepared polenta! There is no rolling a spicy filling in individual tortillas, and no messy situation. Some veggies, chicken, tasty enchilada sauce and polenta get layered in a baking dish and you're ready. Super easy.
This dinner tastes just like enchiladas wrapped in corn tortillas, so you won't be missing that traditional flavor, just the extensive work time. It only takes 20 minutes to throw this recipe together and put it in the oven.
This is a casserole, and it's the bomb!
The polenta adds that yummy, corn, starchy chew that tortillas offer in traditional enchiladas. But slicing it and layering with chicken, sauce and cheese does the same thing – in my mouth!
What is polenta?
I use prepared, packaged polenta in my chicken enchiladas casserole. Prepared polenta comes in a little tube. Kind of like Jimmy Dean bulk sausage! It's easy to slice and stays together. I love the stuff for easy meals and appetizers.
Polenta is a dish made from cornmeal, essentially boiled. Coarsely ground cornmeal or yellow maize is also referred to as polenta. You can make your own and eat it soft, or let it solidify and slice it. The solidified polenta can be eaten as is, fried or baked.
The enchilada sauce is what gives this dish it's classic flavor. Mixed with chicken and cheese it tastes just like a restaurant meal!
Is enchilada sauce spicy?
I call for a 10-oz can of enchilada sauce for this chicken enchilada casserole. It's easy to find in the grocery store. That being said, all enchilada sauces are not created equal. Some are spicier than others, and some have very smoky, or chili powder flavors. If you have a favorite, stick with that. Otherwise it's worth the $.98 cents or $1.25 to try a few out before using them in this recipe.
Some brands will label their sauces as mild, medium or spicy. Look for it on the can. Other, more authentic brands have no spice explanation, and you simply have to try them to find a favorite!
This spinach and chicken enchilada casserole tastes like your favorite homemade enchiladas, each individually filled, wrapped and baked, it's ten times easier!
I also added lots of extra veggies. Chicken enchiladas at the restaurant are full of cheese, chicken, awesome sauce and, well, that's about it. I added spinach, bell peppers and scallions to up the green-factor and get my dinner serving of veg in.
Why do you squeeze the spinach dry?
Spinach is a most wondrous green of all the greens. It's full of healthy vitamins A, B2, C and K. It's also full of manganese, magnesium, folate, iron, calcium and potassium.
I love fresh spinach, but frozen spinach is also fantastic and it's easy to cook with. I set a frozen block in a colander set inside another bowl to thaw in the fridge. The excess water will drain out and then I use my hands to squeeze remaining water out over the sink.
If you don't squeeze the spinach dry, the excess water it carries goes straight into your recipes. If it is a recipe, like this chicken enchilada casserole, it would create a soupy mess at the bottom of the pan. By squeezing extra water out, I get all the fiber and good benefits of just the leafy greens, not the liquid.
Chicken enchiladas were never so easy, family-pleasing and delicious.
Spinach and Chicken Enchilada Casserole
- 1½ cups chicken shredded cooked
- 4 scallions thinly sliced
- 1 small red bell pepper sliced
- 1½ cups shredded cheese I used Pepper Jack and Monterey Jack
- 1 pkg (10 oz) pkg frozen chopped spinach thawed and squeezed of excess liquid
- 1 can (10 oz) enchilada sauce
- 1 pkg (17 oz log) prepared polenta
- Heat oven to 375°F. In a bowl combine chicken, half the scallions and all of the bell pepper, cheese and spinach; set aside. Spread a few tablespoons of enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 1½-qt baking dish.
- Cut polenta into thin rounds less than ¼ inch thick. Place half the rounds in the bottom of the baking dish; top with half the chicken mixture, then the remaining polenta rounds. Cover with the rest of the chicken mixture and pour remaining enchilada sauce over entire dish. Bake until cooked through, about 45 min. Top with remaining scallions.
You'll want to click through these other delicious casseroles this month, courtesy of some of my favorite bloggers. They know what's going on!
Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie Casserole from It's Yummi!
Chicken Tetrazzini Casserole from Barbara Bakes
Chicken Noodle Soup Casserole from Frugal Foodie Mama
Pizza Pasta Casserole from I Heart Eating
Ham & Mac Casserole from Around My Family Table
Green Chile Chicken and Rice Casserole from Bread Booze Bacon
Chicken Noodle Casserole from Kleinworth & Co.
Spinach & Mushroom Alfredo Baked Ziti from It Bakes Me Happy
Chicken Tortilla Casserole from Home.Made.Interest.
Bacon Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole Recipe from The Life Jolie Blog
Chicken & Spinach Pasta Bake from The Two Bite Club
Pizza Tortellini Skillet Casserole from Cooking on the Front Burner
Cheesy Chicken Broccoli & Rice Casserole from House of Nash Eats