Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mexican Lasagna

No, she’s not the prettiest dish to look at, but she’s tasty and filling and she works up fast. Give her 30 minutes to bake…er, heat up, really, and dinner’s on the table.

I’ve been craving less spicy forms of Mexican food lately. After 32 weeks of enduring this pregnancy, I’m finding heartburn to be a real appetite dampener. It sucks. I’m always thinking oh that sounds good, and then my eyes narrow and visibly question whether I’ll want to keep burping it later. A grimace. Usually the answer is no (with occasional exemptions for samosas or ginger broccoli). So making my own form of Mexican food is a good compromise that lets George dump salsa over the entire thing later (he craves the extra flavor) while letting me get to sleep painlessly.

It’s a pretty simple lasagna idea: swap in tortillas for noodles and proceed as usual. I mix a splash of salsa and lots of sour cream into the cheese layer, so it gets creamy and thick. Then I use enchilada sauce for the liquid and blend a little into the refried beans and some chopped up olives so they’re easier to spread. We have lovely corn here lately, and I find the sweetness of it in this dish adds a nice contrast, but you can take it or leave it. Then I added a crisp handful of lettuce and halved tomatoes to the hot lasagna, finishing it off with a nice crunch and some texture.

Mexican Lasagna
Serves 6

12 oz can enchilada sauce (I used green chile)

8 fajita-size tortillas (can use flour or corn)

12 oz can vegetarian refried beans
6 oz can diced olives
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

2 cups fresh corn, cut off of the cob
2 T cilantro, minced
jalapeno, minced (optional for those without heartburn issues)
½ red onion, minced (optional for those without heartburn issues)

1 cup sour cream
2 cups monterey jack cheese, shredded
½ cup salsa, as spicy as you like

For serving:
4 cups shredded lettuce
1 cup diced tomatoes
sour cream

Heat the oven to 350º and oil a round baking dish, about the size of your tortillas or slightly smaller. Pour about 2 T of the enchilada sauce in the bottom and press a tortilla into it. Pour another 1 T of sauce over the first tortilla and stack another one on top. This is your lasagna base.

Shred your cheeses and reserve a large handful of each in a bowl.

Make the refried bean layer by mixing the whole can of beans, cheddar, and the whole can of olives in a bowl. Add about ¼ to ½ cup of enchilada sauce, just enough to make the beans spreadable. Layer a third of your bean mixture on top of the tortilla in the baking dish.

Blend the corn with the cilantro (and the optional onion and jalapeno) and scoop 1/3 of the mixture onto the bean layer.

Mix the jack cheese with the sour cream and salsa in a bowl. Spread a third of the mixture over the corn in your baking dish, then add a tortilla. Spread 1 T enchilada sauce evenly over it and sandwich a second tortilla over that.

Layer the beans, corn and cheese on your tortilla sandwiches twice more, ending with a tortilla layer at the top. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the top tortilla (there shouldn’t be much left) and sprinkle with the reserved handful of cheese. Bake, covered with foil or a lid, for 30 minutes, until the beans and cheese bubble at the edges of the dish. Remove the lid and bake another five minutes to give the cheese some color.

Serve with a handful of lettuce and sprinkling of tomatoes, and more salsa and sour cream, if desired. A side of guacamole and chips is always appreciated.

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