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Back in my single days, I was a Manhattan gal.

Oh, those wild and carefree days of living in my deluxe high-rise apartment! Enjoying my Cosmos and wearing my Manolo Blahniks and waltzing past velvet ropes into Bungalow 8….

No. Not really.

I was always more of a beer at the dive bar over a game of pool kind of girl, and I lived in a walk up railroad style apartment that totaled about 450 square feet. For a two bedroom. My kitchen was about the size of my current closet, and trust me, my closet isn’t all that big. I ate out a lot more often.

Living in Hell’s Kitchen, there was no shortage of amazing places to grab a bite to eat, and I was fortunate enough to live right near a little gem of a place called The Little Pie Company. You may have heard of it…its one of those places that seems to always be featured on a Food Network or PBS special. My old roomie and I used to run in after working out at our gym, with the quest of replenishing every calorie we had just burned. It wasn’t hard. Being more of a savory-fanatic, I usually eschewed the signature fruit pies for something from their prepared food case, and 9 times out of 10, my choice was Tortilla Pie.

It wasn’t until I watched Dave Lieberman creating his version of a breakfast enchilada casserole that I remembered Tortilla Pie. And then it all came to me – Tortilla Pie would be an amazing veggie fake-out.

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Kitty’s Tortilla Pie
makes 6 servings

1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1/2 large red bell pepper, diced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 – 3 canned chipotle peppers, chopped well
1 & 1/3 cup crushed tomatoes (1/2 of a 28oz can)
1 can black beans, rinsed
6 white corn tortillas
6 – 8 ounces shredded cheese (I used a reduced-fat blend of cheddar, jack & mozzarella)
salt
olive oil
easy-poached eggs, to top
chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350F. In a large pan, soften the onion and red pepper in some olive oil with a pinch of salt. For a successful veggie fake-out, make sure you dice your vegetables small. Add the teaspoon of cumin to the pan, and stir to incorporate.

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Step 2: Add 1 chipotle pepper for mild, 2 for medium and 3 for hot. I went with 2, and I made sure to chop them very well, until they almost formed a paste. Do NOT touch your eyes if your fingers come in contact with the peppers. Add the peppers to the pan and stir.

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Step 3: Add the tomatoes to the pan, bring to a boil, and add the black beans. Reduce the heat to low, partially cover the pan, and allow to simmer while you prepare the tortillas.

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Step 4: On a gas burner, cook your corn tortillas around 30 seconds per side, using cooking tongs to handle the tortillas. The tortilla will bubble and darken around the edges while they toast. If you do not have a gas burner, use a dry cast-iron pan to cook the tortillas until they are slightly charred.

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Step 5: You are now ready to begin assembling your pie. Spread a scoop of the bean mixture over the bottom of a pie dish.

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Step 6: Use 3 corn tortillas to create a layer on top of the bean mixture.

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Step 7: Cover with half the cheese. Repeat with another layer of tortillas, and top that with the rest of the bean mixture. Cover with remaining cheese.

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Step 8: Place in the preheated oven for 10 – 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling.

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Step 9: Use a sharp knife to carve slices of the pie, using a wide pie server or spoon to get the portions out of the pie plate. Remember: Tortilla Pie is for people, not cats.

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Step 10: Are you ready to eat? Then its time to make your easy-poached eggs. Add a few drops of water to a medium sized ramekin or custard cup, and crack an egg into the cup. Microwave on high for 35 seconds. Voila! Easy-poached eggs.

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Step 11: Top the individual slices of Tortilla Pie with a poached egg, and a sprinkling of chopped cilantro. Serve immediately.

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Some notes on easy-poached eggs: Every microwave is different, and I get the best results when I only poach one egg at a time using this method. You may want to use the more traditional boiling water and white vinegar method if making multiple servings, to insure everyone gets a yolk that is cooked to desired doneness.

There is so much healthiness going on in this Tortilla Pie, I don’t know where to begin. Did you know that the darker the bean/legume, the higher the health benefits? Its true! Black beans, regardless if they are canned or dried, are fiber all-stars that are also loaded with antioxidants – more antioxidants than other beans, or even the equivalent amount of oranges. The antioxidant properties found in black beans are likened to that in grapes or cranberries. Black beans are also a great source of heart-healthy magnesium, as well as iron.

In addition to the healthy and filling black beans, we also have the Vitamin C and Lycopene found in the canned tomatoes and red bell pepper. As a bonus, the corn tortillas are high in fiber, and contain only 45 calories a piece.

On our official veggie fake-out broccoli head rating scale, I give this recipe for Tortilla Pie 8 out of 10 heads of broccoli.

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