Baked Tortilla Surprise

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What's your Take?

Your kids will have fun helping you make this flavor-packed veggie casserole, a variation on chilaquiles, a Mexican classic.

What you'll need

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium-size onion, minced
  • 2 medium-size zucchini, coarsely grated
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 14-ounce can whole tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • Crushed red pepper (optional)
  • About 3/4 pound Monterey Jack cheese, grated

How to make it

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the minced onion and sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the grated zucchini, 2 crushed garlic cloves, and salt and pepper to taste. Sauté for another 5 minutes. TIP: Older kids can help sauté, but watch them carefully and encourage them to ask for assistance.

  2. Transfer the zucchini mixture to a bowl and sprinkle in about a third of the cheese. Stir well. Tear the tortillas into strips and place them in a 9-inch round or square pan. TIP: Tearing the tortillas is very satisfying -- even helpers as young as 3 can get into it.

  3. Top the tortilla strips with globs of the zucchini mixture and spread it out. It's okay if the mixture is uneven. TIP: This recipe is based on chilaquiles, a Mexican classic casserole made of day-old tortillas, cheese, and whatever else is on hand. Your young chefs may enjoy creating their own combinations from leftovers -- corn, eggplant, or spinach would make tasty substitutes for the zucchini.

  4. Place the tomatoes and all their liquid in a blender or food processor and sprinkle in the cumin and optional crushed red pepper. Puree, then pour the mixture over the casserole. TIP: Older children can put ingredients into your appliance and puree the mixture, if closely supervised. Younger children should stick to pushing the buttons.

  5. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the casserole. Bake uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes, or until heated through and bubbly. TIP: Putting the casserole into the oven and taking it out are adult jobs. (But smelling the mouthwatering results is for everyone.)

  6. Cool the casserole for 10 minutes. As one child put it, "The cheese is yum, but blow on it first so you won't burn your mouth." Serves 4 to 6.

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