Lentils are a nutrition powerhouse and an easy addition to any cancer protective diet. Half a cup of cooked green lentils has 8 grams of fiber and 12 grams of protein. They are rich in complex carbohydrates, low in fat and calories, naturally gluten free and contain important nutrients, including potassium, folate, iron and manganese. Lentils are the star of this hearty casserole along with other vegetables—onion, garlic, bell pepper and celery.
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 celery stalks, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 large carrot, peeled and shredded on the large holes of a box grater (about 1 cup)
- 2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. coriander
- 1 tsp. chipotle chili powder
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup green or brown lentils, rinsed
- 2 packed cups baby kale or spinach, roughly chopped
- 1 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped, optional
- Nonstick cooking spray/oil
- One 19-oz. can mild red enchilada sauce*, divided
- Fifteen 6-inch corn tortillas, cut in half
- 1 1/2 cups reduced-fat Mexican cheese blend or Cheddar cheese, divided
- Heat oil in medium-size pot over medium heat. Add celery, bell pepper and onion and cook, stirring often until softened and caramelized, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add garlic, carrot, cumin, oregano, coriander, chili powder and salt and cook, stirring often until garlic is golden and fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Stir in water and lentils. Raise heat and bring to boil; immediately reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, until just tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Check for tenderness every 3 to 5 minutes, and give a quick stir each time. (Exact cooking time will vary depending on type of lentil used.) When done, stir in kale and cilantro, as desired, until wilted, about 1 minute. Taste and season with additional salt, as desired.
- While lentils cook, preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly oil or coat 9 x 13-inch baking pan or dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
- To make casserole, spread ½ cup enchilada sauce in bottom of prepared pan. Arrange 10 tortilla halves over sauce, allowing to overlap slightly. Top evenly with another ½ cup sauce, 2 1/4 cups lentil mixture and 1/2 cup cheese.
- Repeat next layer with 10 tortilla halves, ½ cup sauce, 2 ¼ more cups lentils (discard any remaining liquid), and ½ cup cheese.
- Add final layer with remaining 10 tortilla halves, remaining enchilada sauce and 1/2 cup cheese.
- Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake until casserole is heated through and bubbly, about 35 minutes. Cool slightly, slice and serve.
*Can substitute two 10-ounce cans of mild, medium or hot enchilada sauce.
- You can garnish the dish with diced avocado, lime wedges, fresh cilantro or sliced green onion.
This recipe contains cancer fighting foods:
This recipe was specially crafted to support cancer prevention and survival. It adheres to AICR's Cancer Prevention Recommendations. Learn more about our recipe guidelines.
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