Southwestern Vegetarian Casserole
Southwestern Vegetarian Casserole

This is vegetarian home cooking at its finest! A flavorful filling of beans, veggies and spices is topped with fluffy cheddar biscuits and baked to perfection.

In this recipe

  • How to Make Southwestern Vegetarian Casserole
  • Tips for biscuit success
  • Customizing the Southwestern Vegetarian Casserole
  • How to store and warm up
  • If you like Southwest flavors

Despite growing up in a part of the US where Midwestern convenience meets Southern decadence, I’ve never been crazy about casseroles. One casserole I always pull off is a tamale pie — a flavorful Southwestern filling filled with fluffy masa.

Recently I’ve been craving this hearty dish but ran out of masa. I spotted a bag of buttermilk in my fridge and figured why not top with biscuits instead?

It’s great for a family dinner on the weekend or on a weekday with a little wiggle room. This recipe makes six servings, but you can stretch it to eight servings with a side or two. I would recommend a citrus coleslaw or a nopalitos cactus salad.

How to Make Southwestern Vegetarian Casserole

This recipe has two components: the filling and the biscuits. Each is prepared separately and then assembled in a casserole dish.

  • For the filling, a rainbow of chopped veggies, beans, and spices are cooked on the stovetop, then poured into a casserole dish.
  • The drop biscuit dough is made in a large bowl, portioned and carefully placed on top of the filling. There is no need to roll out and cut the cookie dough.
  • The cookies are topped with shredded cheddar cheese both in the batter and on top.
  • The whole thing goes into the oven and bakes for about 20 minutes, just long enough to clean up the kitchen and set the table.

Tips for biscuit success

While some cookie casseroles use rolled and sliced ​​cookies, I chose drip cookies for a couple of reasons. They’re quick, easy, and less messy. They also spread and puff up nicely during baking, covering the filling and allowing you to portion and serve the casserole however you like.

Most importantly, they’re fluffy rather than flaky like most cut cookies. The tops will be crispy and the moisture in the filling will keep the cookies tender. While flaky cookies are awesome, cooking on a moist filling isn’t the best way to encourage flaky layers.

The key to fluffy drop cookies is treating the dough with a light touch. The more the dough is mixed, the tougher it will become. After adding the buttermilk, mix just until all of the large dry pockets of flour are gone, then stop mixing.

Divide the dough into portions and dust with a little flour before placing in the casserole dish. This should be done gently and without overworking the dough.

Customizing the Southwestern Vegetarian Casserole

You can swap out ingredients to your heart’s content. I’ve provided measurements of the veggies for easy swapping – just make sure you always include onion, pepper, garlic and well-drained canned tomatoes.

When making substitutes, remember to use ingredients that cook in a similar way with similar water content and cooking time.

  • Make it whole grain: Replace all or half of the all-purpose flour in the cookies with whole-wheat white flour.
  • Make it sharp: Leave the seeds in the jalapeño and double if you like. You can even add diced jalapeños to the cookie dough.
  • Swap pumpkin: Substitute chopped cauliflower or boiled, diced sweet potatoes. Add them with the beans and 1/4 cup broth or water since squash contains more water.
  • Swap mushrooms: Try diced eggplant instead, or substitute chopped fresh tomatoes for more acidity.
  • Make it meaty: Swap the mushrooms and half the beans for cooked and drained ground beef, turkey, or chicken.
  • Swap kale: Any chopped leafy greens will work, like spinach, Swiss chard, or kale.
  • All Tomato: Swap out the salsa for a pureed tomato salsa or tomato sauce.

How to store and warm up

I figured this recipe wouldn’t hold up well since drip cookies tend to be lackluster when chilled. But it has something to do with baking them on top of the moist filling that gives them longevity.

To store: Cover leftovers tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to three days.

To warm up: I highly recommend reheating it in the oven to give the cookies a second life. Microwave makes them a bit chewy.

Take the dish out of the fridge to warm it up a bit while the oven preheats for about 15 minutes. Cover the mold with foil and heat in a 400°F oven for 15 minutes until bubbly. Remove the foil and bake an additional 10 minutes to crisp up the cookies again.

If you don’t plan on eating all of the leftovers, I recommend putting your portion in a smaller ovenproof bowl so you don’t have to repeatedly reheat it.

If you like Southwest flavors

  • Butternut squash and black bean skillet dinner
  • Southwest Fried Chicken with Beans and Corn
  • Mexican quinoa salad with black beans, corn and tomatoes
  • Tex Mex Shepherd’s Pie
  • Three sisters casserole with cornbread topping

Southwestern Vegetarian Casserole

preparation time
25 minutes

cooking time
40 minutes

total time
65 minutes

6 servings

1 (9×13 inch) casserole

The vegetable and bean filling can be prepared up to a day in advance. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


  • Cook sprayfor the casserole dish

  • 2 teaspoon olive oil

  • 1 small Red onionrolled

  • 2 Middle yellow pumpkin or zucchini, chopped

  • 8th ounces Cremini mushroomsStems trimmed and diced

  • 1 large red, orange or yellow Bell jar peppercored and chopped

  • 1 jalapenoseeded and diced, optional

  • 1/2 large bunch (approx 3 cups densely packed) curly leaf KaleStems removed and leaves roughly chopped

  • 3 cloves garlicchopped

  • 2 teaspoon chilli powderplus more to taste

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher saltplus more to taste

  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

  • 2 (15 ounces) cans Pinto or black beansrinsed and drained

  • 1 (10ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilliesdrained

  • 1 (7ounce) can Salsa Verde

For the cheddar biscuit

  • 2 1/3 cups (326G) all purpose flourdivided

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 4 tablespoon unsalted buttercold and diced

  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheesedivided


  1. Fire up the oven:

    Preheat oven to 450°F and grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

  2. Cook Vegetables:

    Heat a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the oil and onion. Sauté for about 2 minutes until the onion softens.

    Add the squash, mushrooms, peppers, and jalapeño, if using, and sauté until squash is tender, 3 to 4 minutes.

    Add kale, garlic, chili powder, salt and black pepper. Sauté until kale is wilted, about 3 minutes.

  3. Assemble filling:

    Make sure the canned beans and tomatoes are well drained. Otherwise the filling will be too wet.

    Add the beans, tomatoes and salsa to the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until it comes to a boil, then turn off the heat. Taste the filling and adjust the seasoning with chilli powder and salt.

    Carefully pour the filling into the prepared baking dish and set aside while you bake the cookies.

  4. Prepare sponge cake:

    In a medium bowl, mix together 2 cups (280g) flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and baking soda with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Add the diced butter and, using a pastry cutter or two butter knives, cut it into the flour until the mixture resembles small peas covered in flour.

    Add the buttermilk and 1 cup cheddar cheese. Mix gently until just combined so that no large pockets of dry flour are left. Don’t overmix.

  5. Shape cookies:

    In a shallow bowl, add the remaining 1/3 cup (46 g) flour. Using a measuring cup, scoop out about 1/2 cup of cookie dough and add to the flour. Coat the top of the dough in flour with your fingers. Lift the dough and gently toss it back and forth between your hands to remove excess flour.

    Place the dough on top of the vegetable filling – you will make 6 cookies total by placing them in two rows of 3 cookies.

    Top the cookies with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese.

  6. Bake and serve:

    Bake the casserole until the filling is bubbly and the cookies are golden brown and puffy, 20 to 25 minutes.

    If the tops of the cookies get too dark before the 20 minute mark, cover the baking dish with a piece of foil and continue baking to ensure they are fully baked through.

    Allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before scooping and serving.

nutritional information (per serving)
633 calories
22g Fat
88g carbohydrates
25g protein
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Hello everybody, Even if you're limited on time and money, I believe you can prepare wonderful food with everyday products. All you have to do is cook cleverly and creatively!