By Tessa Lemos
Growing up Católica, Fridays during Lent always meant Meatless Fridays — which was a drastic shift because I grew up in a carnivorous Mexican-American house.
My half-Cuban husband recalls he knew it was the right family for him when my mom served fried pork chops, chorizo and bacon the first time he had breakfast with them. For mom, I think meal planning without meat was a significant sacrifice, especially because she hated fish. To this day, if I serve dinner and meat is not included on the menu, I get a blank stare and head shaking from her.
As the years have gone on, I know many Roman Catholics who have dropped this tradition of meatless Fridays during Lent, but I still follow it. I have a rotating menu during this season, which includees fish, but my favorite dish to include in the meatless Friday tradition is Black Bean and Sweet Potato Casserole. When I was first introduced to the recipe it struck me as an odd combination, but when I tasted it, I knew it was a keeper. It is a easy and healthy. It can also be made ahead and frozen, so I bake two small dishes and freeze one to eat later in the month.
Lenten Black Bean and Sweet Potato Casserole
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1 can of black beans
- 1 packet of corn tortillas
- 1- 19 oz can of enchilada sauce
- 1 small pack of frozen spinach
- 1 small onion, diced
- sour cream
- 1 bag of shredded monterey and cheddar cheese mix (You won’t use the entire bag.)
- 1 9×13-inch glass baking dish or two small 8×6-inch oven/freezer-safe glass dishes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Defrost the spinach in the microwave and remove any excess moisture.
Saute the peeled and diced sweet potatoes until cooked thoroughly. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic to your tasting preference and saute for an additional minute or two. Add the canned black beans, including the sauce and cook for a few more minutes to blend all of the flavors. (You can also add the spinach here if you want to save yourself a layering step.) Set aside for layering.
This is where the layering begins:
- Put a thin layer of enchilada sauce on the bottom of the glass bakeware.
- Add a layer of torn corn tortillas over the enchilada sauce.
- Add a layer the black bean and sweet potato mixture.
- Sprinkle a layer of spinach.
- Dot with sour cream to your taste preference.
- Cover with one third of the can of enchilada sauce.
- Sprinkle a layer of shredded cheese-to your preference.
- Add another layer of torn tortilla, bean mixture, spinach, sour cream.
- Add another layer of torn tortilla, the last third of the can of sauce, and cover with shredded cheese.
Cover with foil and bake for approximately 30 minutes. Serve with diced avocados and tortilla chips.
Five other meatless meal options with Mexican flavor:
- Fish Tacos
- Shrimp Tostadas
- Bean and Rice Burritos
- Sweet Corn Tamales
Other sites posting Lenten recipes and having conversation:
What are your favorite Mexican or Latino meals to serve during meatless Fridays in Lent? Do you practice meatless Fridays during Lent? Do you have any other Lenten traditions?
Tessa Lemos is a Chicana who grew up in the Pacific Northwest. She is a lawyer by training, executive administrator by profession, and organizer by habit. She lives in Nashville with her husband and two children. You can read more of her writing for the Tiki Tiki.