Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Mexican Lasagne

For want of a better name, we call this meal 'Mexican Lasagne'... Mexican because the ground beef, corn and black beans are basically a taco filling, and lasagne because the meat is layered, with tortillas instead of pasta.

It's easy to make and assemble, hearty and filling and seems to be a hit with everyone who's tried it. It also gave me an excuse to use up the black beans in the freezer, the last pound of ground beef and the last of an open package of tortillas.

Start the meat filling by cooking, in a bit of olive oil:

1/2 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper

When the onions start to soften, add in 1 pound of ground beef.

Cook, breaking the meat up, and seasoning with a bit of salt and pepper.

Now add in the spices, and cook for a minute, stirring to distribute them evenly.

1 heaping teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried chipotle chilies
2 tablespoons Mexican chili powder

When the spices are well incorporated, add in:

1/4 cup tomato paste

Cook, stirring to combine for a couple of minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat.

Stir in:

Black beans, I had about 3/4 cup
Frozen corn, I used about 1 cup

Allow the meat mixture to cool to room temperature.

To assemble and bake the lasagne, have a 10" springform pan ready, and pre-heat the oven to 350F.

Grate 2 cups of cheddar cheese


1 cup Basic Tomato Sauce
3/4 cup salsa

Mix 1/4 cup of the sauce into the meat mixture, just to moisten it a bit.

Line the bottom of the springform pan with a tortilla.

Spread a thin layer of the tomato sauce over the tortilla.

Spread a layer of the meat mixture over this, just enough to cover the sauce. Some gaps are okay.

Sprinkle a bit of the grated cheddar over the meat.

Continue to layer this way, gently pressing down on the tortilla in each layer, and ending with a meat layer.

I usually get 4 - 5 layers.

Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.

I like to place the springform pan onto a baking sheet in case of leakage. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until it is heated through and the top is bubbly and crisping up. Allow the lasagne to rest for about 5 - 10 minutes before removing the side of the pan and cutting it into wedges for serving.

This shows the layers after the ring has been removed from the springform pan

  • I used 10" tortillas, adjust the pan size according to the size of your tortillas. This works best in a round dish, but can be made in a square or rectangle...you might need to cut some of the tortillas in order to avoid having layers that are too thick.
  • I have made this using ground turkey instead of beef. You could try ground pork, or use cooked fish or prawns and make a fish taco version. 
  • Omit the meat and add in more beans and vegetables, cooked rice and cheese and make it a vegetarian lasagne.
  • Use as much cheese as you like! 
  • If you have extras such as red pepper (fresh or roasted), cherry tomatoes that can be roasted, soft tomatoes that can be chopped, green onions, other beans, cooked spinach... add these into the filling. That's what this blog is all about...using it up, and creating new flavours in the process.
  • Serve this with diced avocado, fresh tomatoes and green onions.
  • The meat can be used as taco filling, with either hard or soft shells. Roll the filling inside the tortillas, and place in an ovenproof dish, cover with the tomato-salsa sauce, top with cheese and you have enchiladas. It can also be used to stuff and bake peppers or tomatoes. Add in a can or two of chopped tomatoes, and you have a quick chili. Layer tortilla chips with the cooked meat, pickled or fresh jalapenos, olives, tomatoes and cheese and bake until heated through and you have nachos.
  • Adjust the spices according to your taste...I like cumin and tend to use a heavy hand with it. Increase the dried chipotle, or add in canned chipotles with some of the adobo sauce for an extra kick.
  • The lasagne can be made ahead and kept in the fridge, or it can be frozen for another time.
  • Cook extra meat, and freeze the filling as a timesaver for another time.
  • Extra or leftover meat can be used in wraps, on salads or as a pizza topping.

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