Gluten-Free Enchilada Bake: Roasted Green Chile and Cream Cheese

Easy gluten-free tortilla bake with cream cheese and green chiles.
Gluten-free tortilla bake with cream cheese and green chiles.

Planted on the coast of Cape Cod for years (forever, it seemed, on gloomy January days blanketed in gray) I daydreamed about fire roasted chiles. The smoky pepper sweetness that flirted with your senses as you walked in Santa Fe. The luxury of buying bags of freshly roasted chiles by the roadside- still warm,  soft as butter, and charred. In fact, I may have moved here for the chiles alone.

That's entirely possible.

I may have been so drop dead in love with chiles when we bought this casita that I didn't notice I'd be stuck out in the desert with so few neighbors. No bookstore, no cafe- no movie theater. What was I thinking? Only my analyst knows for sure (if she remembers me; it's been years since Jungian analysis).

Along with dreaming of Val Kilmer (not the rock scrambling Thunderheart Val, the seasoned, voluptuous new Mega Val- and why he showed up in my dream, I've no clue- better ask my analyst about that, too) I've been craving roasted green chile this month like mad as we approach our second anniversary of moving to New Mexico. 

And wouldn't you know it! I'm out of last year's roadside bags of chiles. 

They're long gone (my freezer is annoyingly, shall we say, petite). Until roasting season starts I have to settle with buying frozen Bueno chiles. And they're not bad, exactly. They are pretty dang good.

Yet, as I sit and crave and daydream, the big question becomes: Do I really still want to be here in August when chile roasting begins? Is my chile love a devoted, true love, or simply an infatuation? A passing fancy? Will your intrepid dusty goddess remain here in the coyote hills of O'Keeffe country or soon be walking Venice Beach in her Rocket Dogs?

I tell myself, just breathe.

There are Bueno chiles to defrost.

Karina's Gluten-Free Enchilada Casserole: Roasted Green Chile Tortilla Bake Recipe

Originally published August 2006.

 The creamy filling cools the spice in this cozy family-style dish. Use organic free-range chicken for the protein if you are flexitarian or use cooked black or white beans, to keep it vegetarian. To keep it dairy-free I use soy cream cheese for the cheese layer and vegan grated cheese. (Soy-free vegan? Try a thickened version of my Cheesy Uncheese Sauce.)

First- make your green chile. Stir with love.

Green Chile Sauce Recipe


2 cups fresh or frozen roasted chiles, skinned, stemmed, seeded, chopped

5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 vine ripe tomatoes, seeded, chopped- I used Roma (plum) tomatoes
3 cups vegetable broth- reserve 4-5 tablespoons
Pinch of sea salt, to taste
Fresh ground pepper, to taste
A dash of golden balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon agave syrup
2 tablespoons potato starch or sweet rice flour


In a large saucepan, combine the chiles, garlic, tomatoes, broth, sea salt and pepper, vinegar and agave syrup. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat; reduce the heat a bit and maintain a gentle, constant low simmer for ten minutes.

Add the potato starch to the reserved broth and whisk to make a thickening paste.

Stir the paste into the green chile and continue to cook, stirring, for another 7 to 10 minutes, until the sauce is thickened but not gluey.

As always, taste test. If you used very hot chiles and the sauce is too spicy, add more agave to soften the heat.

Remove from the stove and set aside.

Make your casserole.

Casserole ingredients:

2 1/2 cups green chile sauce (see above)

10 to 12 corn tortillas
1 8-oz. package dairy or soy cream cheese- room temperature
1 cup grated cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, or grated vegan cheese
1 medium red onion, diced fine
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 14-oz can black or white beans, rinsed, drained
1/2 teaspoon cumin, to taste
Juice from 1 large lime


Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly spray or oil an 8x8-inch baking dish.

Spoon a half cup of the chile sauce into the baking dish to cover the bottom. Tearing some tortillas in half, if necessary- to fit- take four tortillas, one at a time, and dip each one quickly into the hot green chile sauce, then place it into the baking dish to make a bottom layer.

Spread the softened cream cheese onto the tortilla layer; add the grated cheese.

In a bowl, combine the onion, garlic and beans. Season with cumin and lime juice.

Add the bean mixture to the casserole and spread evenly.

Spoon a half cup of green chile sauce over the beans.

Follow with another layer of dipped tortillas. Press down with a spatula.

Pour the remaining green chile sauce all over the top, allowing it to seep in around the edges.

Cover loosely with foil and bake for 20 to 30 minutes until it is hot and bubbling. Allow the casserole to sit for a few minutes before cutting and serving.

Serve with a cool green salad. Need inspiration? Here's Three Ways To Dress a Naked Salad.

Serves 4.

Recipe Source:

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Karina's Notes:

If using my Cheesy Uncheese Sauce instead of the moo-cow cream cheese, I would reverse the layers and make the uncheese sauce the top layer, above the protein layer.

Want more chile goodness- including a "How to" on roasting your own chiles? You know you do.
Check out Elise's Chile Relleno Casserole at Simply Recipes.


tarkus said...

I'm going to try this it looks awesome

kerrdelune said...

OK, that settles it - roasted chilies are my favourite things on this whole planet and the only thing I haven't done with them so far is make ice cream with them. I simply must move down there, Karina.........

AK said...

So ... um, green chile? Like a poblano? This whole chile thing is confusing, I'm so glad you've moved to NM so you can sort it out!

Catherine said...

delicious! like your new pic btw.

Jennifer said...

I'm so excited for you to share all of your wonderful New Mexico-inspired food! The roasted chile casserole sounds divine...I'm bookmarking the recipe for when it gets just a tiny bit cooler here.

bea at La Tartine Gourmande said...

mmmm, this looks so comfy and yummy! It is lunch time here now and I wish I had a piece!

klaya1 said...

Karina, I've said it before but I just want to thank you for having such passion for good food and for sharing it with the world..Thank you!

Ivonne said...

Thank you ... because now I have a purpose for all those green chiles from the garden!

karina said...

Tarkus - Cool!

Cate ~ Fellow chile lover and friend, come - anytime!

Alanna ~ Chile in New Mexico is hotter than an Anaheim pepper, and a bit longer and greener in color; southern NM chile is Hatch chile; and in the north we have Chimayo, and Las Lunas... Every region considers their chile the best! ;-)

The one thing all New Mexico agrees on is the spelling. It's c-h-i-l-e.

Catherine ~ Thanks! I took it with my new Photobooth [camera] in the iMac!

Jennifer ~ I'm excited, too. I LOVE the foods of New Mexico.

Bea ~ I wish I could send a slice to you [assuming that is, that there is some left - which, there is NOT! ;-)]. Maybe next time?

Klaya1 ~ You are too kind. It is my pleasure.

Ivonne! ~ Ah - fresh chile - will you roast them on a grill?

sher said...

What a beautiful view you have from your portal! And the chile bake looks so good--I have to make that soon.

BNA said...

Love green chiles! This looks marvelous.

I just posted about your blueberry bread from Cooking by Moonlight -- astonishingly good recipe!

karina said...

Hi Sher!

It *is* beautiful - we are loving it.

bna ~

Wow. I am honored! And you inspire me to try making a GF version [now that I can no longer bake so many of my old recipes...].

Thank you. You are a sweetheart.

Marilena said...

It's very good,I'm marilena, I'm italian and I've created a blog where there are gluten free food,if you wont you can look it.:)

1985Grrl said...

I love baked enchilada casseroles! This sauce looks amazing. Thanx!

glutenfreeforgood said...

I read your post and went directly to my freezer. Yippee! I found two small baggies of roasted green chiles hidden under some frozen fruit.

Once you're a green chile girl, you're always a green chile girl, whether in northern NM or southern CA.

These look great, Karina. I'll be doing some defrosting tonight!


Tiffany said...

...this recipe is pure love :) I know just what you are saying with the fresh roasted green chilies from the street market...we love that in Colorado, too!

Marc @ NoRecipes said...

Oooo this looks delicious!

Nick said...

Mmm, I love Mexican casseroles. I make a tortilla bean pie similar to this that is just incredible - plenty enough to feed an army too. I'm also a diehard fan of enchiladas, tacos and 7-layer bean dip. I've got all those recipes on my blog, even though my main focus is peanut butter, because I just can't get enough of Mexican cuisine! Excellent pictures!

- The Peanut Butter Boy

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Oh, yes, this is comfort food at its best. This would be the ideal party dish.

kotzebue said...

Yum! (and I hope the following isn't too annoying...)

You have been tagged by Sage.
1) Write your own six word memoir
2) Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you want
3) Link to the person that tagged you in your post, and to the original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere
4) Tag at least five more blogs with links
5) Leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play

michelle @ TNS said...

i really wish i had a slab of that for lunch today. i really shouldn't read food blogs before i go out to buy crappy midtown manhattan chinese food.

i love tortilla casseroles - i've made several from rick bayless's books - and this is going on the list. it looks so nice and creamy, it gives me the warm fuzzies.

Karina said...

Hi Marilena- Thanks!

1985Grrl- My pleasure. This is my favorite chile sauce.

Hey Melissa! True- once a green chile girl, always a green chile girl. Some o us like it HOT. ;)

Hola Tiffany- Chile = love. :)

Hey Marc! Thanks!

Hi Nick! You'll have to incorporate peanut butter into your chile- how bad would that be? ;)

Susan- Yes- true! Party time. This would be fabulous doubled in a large lasagna dish. Great idea!

Hiya Sage- Six words? Only? ;)

Michelle- Wish I had a slice, too. And warm fuzzies? You betcha. :)


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