For the last few autumns, to celebrate the Day of the Dead, I’ve been traveling to Oaxaca Mexico, at the same time many Mexican families gather for the November 2 holiday honoring their deceased ancestors, relatives and friends. It is not at all a morbid celebration, but an all-night party, with huge feasts of tamales and chocolate and flowers and incense and tequila and more, including the 7 traditional moles of Oaxaca. I am not giving you a recipe for mole here, only recommending that you use it as the sauce for this casserole of stacked tortillas and vegetables. In fact, I suggest you purchase a jar of good quality mole (Dona Maria is easy to find) and use it as a base for your sauce. The jar says mix 1 part mole to 4 parts water. Substitute V-8 juice or tomato juice for some of the water. Heat this red mole, whisking until smooth, adding a scant tablespoon of almond or peanut butter.
3 cups chopped potatoes (1/2-inch dice)
1 cup chopped carrots (1/2-inch dice)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch arugula, stems removed and discarded, leaves coarsely chopped
12 to 15 corn tortillas
1 cup crumbled cotija or feta cheese
Real Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 to 5 cups red mole sauce or enchilada sauce
½ cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
Steam the potatoes and carrots separately until they are just tender to the bite, but not soft, about 10 minutes.
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Cook and stir the onions until they are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook and stir another minute or so. Stir in the potatoes and carrots and the arugula. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush some oil in a deep casserole dish. Put about ¼ cup of sauce in the bottom.
Lay a tortilla down, sprinkle a little of the vegetable mixture on top and then about a tablespoon of the cotija cheese. Spread with a few tablespoons of sauce. Lay down another tortilla, follow with vegetables and cheese and sauce, continuing this stacking and layering until you are out of filling. End with a tortilla dipped in the sauce. Sprinkle with the Monterey Jack cheese.
Bake until the sauce begins to bubble around the edges, about 30 minutes.
Makes about 8 servings.