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Tortilla-Tomato Casserole

Carl makes this from time to time when we siblings visit. It is absolutely delicious.




  1. Roash unpeeled garlic on griddle, turning occasionally, until soft (will blacken in spots), about 15 minutes; cool and peel.
  2. Working in batches, using a food processor or blender, process the tomatoes, chiles and garlic to a medium-fine puree.
  3. Heat 2 Tbs. of oil in medium-size heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add tomato puree and stir nearly constantly for 10 - 15 minutes. Taste and season with salt, usually about 1 1/2 tsp. Add 1 Tbs. sugar. Stir well.


  1. In vegetable steamer, steam the spinach until tender (2 -3 minutes). Spread out on a baking sheet to cool.
  2. Steam diced zucchini until just tender (2 -3 minutes); spread out to cool.
  3. Sprinkle the vegetables with 1/4 tsp. salt.
  4. Set out the corn, tomato sauce and shredded cheese.


  1. Pour the remaining 1/2 cup oil into small skillet and set over medium heat.
  2. Line baking sheet with several layers of paper towels.
  3. When oil is hot, quick-fry the tortillas one at a time for a few seconds per side, just to soften them. Drain them in a single layer on paper towels, blotting them dry.
  4. Cut tortillas in half.

Making the casserole:

  1. Turn on the oven to 350'.
  2. Lightly grease a 13x9-inch baking dish.
  3. Spread a thin layer of the sauce over the bottom, then lay out 8 tortilla halves in a single layer, arranging them to cover as much sauce as possible.
  4. Evenly spread on the greens, a scant 1 1/2 cups of the remaining sauce and 1 cup of cheese.
  5. Top with another layer of 8 tortilla halves.
  6. Spread on the corn and the same amount of sauce and cheese.
  7. Top with a third layer of 8 tortilla halves, the zucchini and another round of sauce (1 1/2 cups) and cheese (1 cup).
  8. Top with the remaining tortilla halves, sauce and cheese.
  9. Cover lightly with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until bubbling and lightly browned.
  10. Let stand a few minutes before cutting into squares.
  11. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro, then use a spatula (a squared-off metal one works best) to transfer the pieces to warm serving plates.

    Note 1: This recipe can be made a couple of days ahead through step 2; refrigerate all the parts in separate covered containers. If baked a day ahead and rewarmed, it will have a more solid texture.

    Note 2: When it comes to sauce, you can use a bottled sauce to save time; you will probably have to thin it out to get the right consistency.