By Jennifer Provenza at Good Food From The Heart
Whole food plant based, oil free, sugar free, gluten free option, soy free
This vegan mexican pizza is made of creamy refried beans, sauteed vegetables, hearty corn tortillas, and is topped with a dreamy cilantro lime crema. This oil free whole food plant based casserole makes a delicious Mexican feast and is a great freeze ahead meal.
Freeze Ahead Meals
So, I haven’t talked a lot about freeze ahead meals, but let me just say that when life gets crazy, they can be a real win! We have had a pretty lazy summer so far, but things are starting to ramp up and will only get more crazy from here. The kids are now doing gymnastics once a week, dance once a week, and swim lessons. Soon, they will start twice a week soccer. And a few weeks after that school starts, and with that, homework. Plus, as I start up teaching, I will be a lot more busy too. Whew! I’m excited for our lives to be fuller again, but also already starting to feel exhausted. I know, for our family, it can be so helpful to have a delicious home cooked meal in the freezer. Then, if I am ever having one of those nights, I can just pop it in the oven and have a nutritious dinner on the table without any work. I mean, it’s not that I don’t ever do takeout, but this is a lot cheaper and a lot healthier.
A Family Favorite
So, if you are wondering what vegan Mexican pizza is, it’s basically just a whole food plant based mexican casserole. There is a story as to why we call it Mexican Pizza. When my brother was little (probably around 3), he was obsessed with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to the point that he only wanted to eat pizza. (In case you aren’t a fan, that’s all the ninja turtles ate). My mom, therefore, had to get creative as she started cutting his food into triangular pieces and calling it pizza. We had “quiche pizza,” actual pizza, and our Mexican casserole became…Mexican Pizza! The name has stuck and that’s what we still call it.
Now, the original recipe used flour tortillas and lots of cheese, but I have made some changes that make it a lot healthier. And, actually, I even like it better this way!
For some additional protein and vegetables, I have added a vegetable and bean saute. And, I’ve replaced the tortillas with corn tortillas and the cheese with a delicious cilantro lime crema made with cashews.
Finally, just because I like to make a large amount, I now cook this in a rectangular lasagna pan. But, if you want triangular pieces, feel free to use two 9 inch round pans instead.
Corn/Wheat Blend Tortillas: My absolute favorite tortillas to use for this recipe are corn tortillas with added wheat gluten, which makes them have more of a flour tortilla texture with a corn tortilla flavor. If you can’t find that or need to avoid gluten, feel free to use regular corn tortillas. If you wanted to, you could also use regular whole wheat tortillas, but I prefer the flavor of the corn tortillas. I like La Tortilla Factory Homemade Style.
Vegetarian Refried Beans: Make sure to get the vegetarian variety because some brands contain lard. Also, you will be adding 2 tablespoons of water just to make the beans more spreadable. No need to heat them up before using them.
Kidney Beans: I like to use kidney beans or pinto beans as the additional beans in this recipe, but any kind of beans will work. Use your favorite!
Corn: I usually use frozen corn, but fresh would be great too. Avoid canned as it does not taste nearly as good.
Roasted Red Peppers: I like to use jarred roasted red peppers because they are so soft and silky, but you can definitely roast your own fresh peppers if you are less lazy than I am. Just make sure to get them really soft.
Black Olives: These add a great flavor that you won’t want to skip. I buy pre-sliced because, again, lazy.
Mild Green Chilis: I love the flavor of mild green chilis. Feel free to use spicy if you aren’t feeding kids and you like spicy food.
Cumin, Chili Powder, Shallot: They add lots of flavor so don’t skip!
Canned tomato sauce: I buy the cans labeled “tomato sauce” and they usually contain some salt and onion powder and such. If you buy tomato puree, you may want to add some salt and onion or garlic powder to taste before using.
Cashews: The cashews provide the base for the crema. If you don’t have a high speed blender, you will need to pour boiling water over them and soak them for an hour before using. (Or soak overnight in cold water). You can skip this step if you have a high speed blender.
Cilantro: This provides the main flavor for the crema. You could try substituting basil if you are not a fan, but otherwise you will love the flavor this provides!
Lime: The lime juice provides a necessary tartness and tang. Don’t skip it!
Nutritional Yeast: This adds that cheesy flavor that you want the crema to have.
Canned Mild Chilis: For this, I use two whole mild chilis from a can. (Not two cans of mild chilis). You could also do 1/4 cup of mild diced chilis from a can if you can’t find the whole ones.
Salt: You can use it to taste, but I use a teaspoon because the salt really brings out the other flavors.
Garlic: Use fresh, if possible. I buy it jarred and pre crushed. Yay for lazy!
How To Make This Vegan Mexican Pizza
There are a few steps to this recipe, but it’s quite fool proof and can definitely be made in advance. Start by making your cilantro lime crema. If you don’t have a high speed blender, pour boiling water over the cashews and soak them for an hour. You can skip this step if you do have a high speed blender.
To make the crema, combine all the crema ingredients in your blender and blend until completely smooth. Set aside.
Next, mix the refried beans with the water to make it more spreadable and set aside. (No need to heat the beans).
To make the saute, add the kidney beans, corn, roasted red pepper, black olives, mild green chilis, shallot, cumin, and chili powder to a non stick pan. Add a few tablespoons of water to keep it from sticking and cook over medium heat until the shallot is transluscent and the vegetables are warmed through. Add 1/4 cup of the crema to the mixture and stir. Remove from the heat.
Put It All Together
Now it’s time to assemble this oil free whole food plant based Mexican casserole. Yeah! Start by spreading about a half a cup of tomato sauce on the bottom of your lasagna pan. If the pan is not non stick, you may want to spray on a little non stick spray first. Next, layer tortillas over the bottom of the pan. I usually do two large tortillas side by side and then rip another tortilla into pieces to fill in the empty spots. (Round tortilla, rectangular pan problems…). Next, cover the tortillas with another half cup of sauce, half the refried beans, and half of the vegetable mixture.
Cover this layer with more tortilllas and tortilla pieces, then add another half cup of sauce and the rest of the refried beans and vegetable mixture. Finally, top with more tortillas and tortilla pieces and cover with the last half cup of tomato sauce. Bake for 25 minutes in a 350 degree oven. After you remove the vegan Mexican pizza from the oven, pour the remainder of the cilantro lime crema all over the top. Allow to cool for five minutes, then cut into pieces and serve. This makes eight servings, but prepare to eat at least two pieces because it’s hard to stop at just one! This goes great with a salad or fresh fruit. For an extra yummy treat, blend up some frozen raspberries with some kombucha (or hard kombucha) and enjoy a sweet, frozen beverage with your dinner.
This oil free whole food plant based Mexican casserole also goes perfectly with my Decadent Chocolate Raspberry Nice Cream for dessert.
Vegan Mexican Pizza
- 9×13 lasagna pan
- high speed blender
- non stick frying pan
- 1 package corn and wheat tortilla blend or just corn or wheat tortillas
- 1 can vegetarian refried beans
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 can kidney beans drained and rinsed
- 1 cup frozen or fresh corn kernals
- 1 cup jarred roasted red pepper strips chopped
- 1/2 cup black olives sliced
- 1/4 cup canned diced mild green chilis
- 1/4 cup shallot diced
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 cups tomato sauce canned
For the Cilantro Lime Crema
- 1/2 cup cashews
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro
- 1 lime juiced
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 canned mild chilis
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1 clove garlic diced
- If you do not have a high speed blender, boil water and pour it over your cashews. Soak for one hour, then drain.
- Pour your cashews into a blender. (No need to soak them if you have a high speed blender). Add the cilantro, nutritional yeast, water, garlic, mild chilis, salt and lime juice. Blend until completely smooth. Set aside.
- Mix the refried beans with the water to make them more spreadable. Set aside.
- In a non stick frying pan, combine the kidney beans, corn, bell peppers, olives, diced green chilis, shallot, cumin, and chili powder. Add a few tablespoons of water to keep from sticking. Add about 1/4 cup of the crema to this mixture and cook over medium heat until the shallots are transluscent and the vegetables are warmed through. Remove from heat.
- To assemble the casserole, spray the bottom of the lasagna pan with non stick spray (if necessary). Pour about 1/2 cup of tomato sauce in the bottom of the pan and spread evenly. Cover the sauce in a layer of tortillas. You may have to tear some peices off of additional tortillas to fill in the gaps. Cover the layer of tortillas in another 1/2 cup of tomato sauce.
- Over the tomato sauce, spread half of the refried beans and top with half of the vegetable mixture. Cover with another layer of tortillas and top with 1/2 cup tomato sauce, the rest of the refried beans, and the rest of the vegetable mixture.
- Top with the another layer of tortillas and cover with the last 1/2 cup of tomato sauce. Bake for 25 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and drizzle the cilantro lime crema all over the top of the casserole. Allow to cool for five minutes, then slice into pieces and serve.
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