A Mexican casserole, which usually includes beef, enchilada sauce, cheese and corn tortillas, pairs perfectly with side dishes that take some of the heat out of spicy sauces. Rice, beans, lettuce and fruit are all great at cooling down spicy foods. Although these side dishes are standard Mexican food fare, spice up or change them to create an unexpected menu.
Variations to your Mexican casserole might include layered enchiladas, black beans, onions and corn chips, similar to baked nachos. Mexican casseroles can be spicy or mild, depending on the intensity and amount of chilies you add to the mixture or in the enchilada sauce.
Spanish rice complements any type of Mexican casserole. Spice it up by adding more peppers and even some jalapenos or red peppers. Keep the flavor of Spanish rice mild by adding only a few chilies and extra tomato sauce. Add ground beef for a more filling side dish. For a different flavor, add mango chutney, small apple chunks, pineapple or cheese to the Spanish rice.
Like Spanish rice, refried beans are a standard menu item with Mexican casseroles. Spice up bland refried beans by mixing in salsa, onions, garlic, jalapenos or cheese. As an alternative, serve whole pinto beans cooked with pork or bacon and green chilies.
Serve warm flour tortillas instead of bread or rolls. They go perfectly with a Mexican casserole; serve them plain or with butter or olive oil. Corn tortillas are meant for cooking as part of a dish, such as enchiladas or the casserole itself, and aren't meant to be served like bread. Flour tortillas, on the other hand, are often served in place of bread, even alongside dishes that contain corn tortillas.
Lettuce and Tomato
Shredded lettuce and small chunks of tomato, with or without a dressing, is a perfect side dish for a Mexican casserole, especially if it's spicy. Give family members a choice of dressings, such as creamy chipotle or bacon ranch. The lettuce and tomato offer a refreshing and cooling alternative to a spicy casserole. Add chunks of avocado for flavor. Toss crunchy baked tortilla strips on top in place of croutons.
Fruits and Vegetables
Mango, watermelon and other mouth-cooling fruits -- like strawberries and grapes -- go well with a Mexican casserole. Corn and green beans also make good side dishes. Grill corn on the cob or boil kernels with red bell peppers to complement the casserole. Add onions and a few slices of jalapenos to green beans for extra flavor. Serve avocado slices as a side dish or on top of the casserole. Avocado is especially good at cooling down spicy foods.
Tortillas baked with cinnamon and sugar make a quick and easy dessert that goes well with a Mexican casserole. Other great desserts include sopapilla, also known as fry bread, topped with honey or powdered sugar, or flan, a type of Mexican custard. Fried ice cream is often served after a spicy Mexican meal -- and is not as difficult to prepare as it sounds.