This turkey enchilada casserole is quite versatile to use up holiday leftovers, or just as a delicious and hearty meal. A layering of black beans, cheese, tortillas, and homemade enchilada sauce makes this flavorful dish a fan favorite for an easy weeknight meal.
The Perfect Meal for Holiday Leftovers
If you’re like me, you’re pretty tired of eating the same leftovers everyday after a big meal like Thanksgiving. Make too little and everyone complains about not having leftovers, so then you end up with tons of dried out turkey and only sandwiches as an option.
For this recipe, I wanted a total switch from the traditional holiday meal which is why turkey enchilada casserole makes complete sense. It’s still using a leftover staple, but has a completely new flavor. And a lot of the ingredients in this dish don’t require a trip to the grocery store. Most of the time I have black beans and corn sitting in my pantry and freezer.
Tyramine on a Migraine Diet
I personally despise leftovers, which worked out for me pretty well when I was strictly following a migraine diet. Tyramine builds up in food where bacteria is present so with time, even in your fridge, it increases. This is why you’re usually advised to not eat leftovers past 2 days when following this particular diet.
Migraine Strong’s RD, Danielle Aberman wrote a fantastic article for My Chronic Brain about the Tyramine and Migraine Connection. In it, Danielle explains how tyramine can contribute to a migraine attack and why some people are sensitive to foods with it.
Here you can either use leftover Thanksgiving turkey that’s been in the fridge for a day or two, or freeze it and have it ready at any time. Freezing stops the build up of tyramine.
Protein Subs for Turkey Enchilada Casserole
Obviously you don’t have to use leftover Thanksgiving turkey, but pretty much any ground meat will do. I think you could even make this totally vegetarian if you add more vegetables you enjoy to it, like perhaps zucchini squash!
For recipe testing, I actually just bought a pound of fresh ground turkey.
Some other proteins that would work here are:
- ground beef
- ground pork
Homemade Enchilada Sauce
I’ve post this recipe before for my Traditional Beef Enchiladas, but it’s a good reminder that enchilada sauce is so easy to make at home. Most of the canned versions contain flavoring, additives, and MSG, but this way you can avoid all of that.
For those sensitive to tomatoes, simply leave out the tomato paste and I think you’ll find it’s still very flavorful.
Cheese and Tortilla Brands
If you’re following a migraine diet, I like to use a quality American cheese like Boar’s Head or Andrew & Everett for this turkey enchilada casserole. Most of these can be found in the deli area of your local grocery store.
If you’ve been on the diet for a while and are feeling good, maybe give Monterey Jack a try. It’s less aged than most cheeses but is right on the borderline when it comes to aged cheese.
For tortillas, I used fresh flour tortillas from Central Market/HEB, but TortillaLand also makes some great clean ones. If you’re gluten free, using an all corn tortilla would work here as well.
A great meal to mix up holiday leftovers or an easy and tasty weeknight dish with protein substitutions like ground beef or chicken. Easy to make gluten free by using all corn tortillas.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 medium shallots, chopped
- 1/2 cup corn (fresh, frozen or canned)
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 jalapeño, de-seeded and minced
- 1 15oz can black beans
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 pound cooked leftover turkey, chopped up or ground turkey, beef, or chicken
- 2 cups enchilada sauce
- corn or flour tortillas
- 1/2 cup American cheese (or Monterey Jack if you can tolerate it)
- kosher salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour (or gluten free)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste*
- 1 tablespoon chili powder*
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a small pot, combine olive oil and flour over medium heat and stir until smooth and starting to bubble, about 1-2 minutes. Add tomato paste and spices, then pour in chicken broth slowly, whisking everything continuously so that it becomes smooth. Turn the heat up till I just begins to boil and then simmer over medium heat until thick, about 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat and add salt and pepper to taste. This sauce can be made ahead and stored in the fridge.
In a large pan, add olive oil over medium heat (if you have uncooked meat you can add it here). Add chopped shallots, corn, red bell pepper, and jalapeno, stirring till just cooked through - about 2 minutes. Drain the canned black beans and add them to the pan along with cumin and the cooked meat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
In a 9x9 inch baking dish add a little enchilada sauce to the bottom, enough to just cover it. Cut the tortillas into halves and layer it with the straight side sticking outwards so it forms a nice square and the rounded parts will overlap on the inside. Add a little bit of cheese, meat mixture, and a layer of sauce. Continue with this pattern until you reach the top of the baking dish, finishing with the remaining sauce and extra cheese. Cover with a sheet of tin foil.
Bake at 375° for 25 minutes then remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes uncovered, 35 minutes total. The top should be bubbling and the cheese melted nicely and lightly brown. Serve warm.
- Look for chili powder that doesn't contain onion or cocoa. This is what I use.
- If you're sensitive to tomatoes, simply leave out the tomato paste.
- Use all corn tortillas and a 1:1 flour substitute for gluten free.
- Switch out the turkey for any cooked meat like beef, chicken, or even zucchini for an all veggie version.
- To cut down on the time, prep the sauce and the cooked vegetable mixture ahead of time and store in the fridge (see pic above for how I did it). Then assemble and bake when you're ready.