Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Mexican Lasagna

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I love Mexican food.  Seriously, it's probably second only to Italian on my list of favorite foods.  Fun fact: I actually used to work at local Tex-Mex restaurant Cactus Cantina while in college.  This experience solidified my fondness for all food from South of the Border.  So, when chatting with my friend, Jackie, she definitely gave me the inspiration to make this dish.  She had some odds and ends that she needed to use up and decided to throw them together in a Mexican Lasagna.  After perusing some recipes, I landed on this one as my guide.  

For this recipe I used:
1 1/4 pounds of ground turkey
1 large yellow onion cut into thin strips
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups low fat ricotta cheese 
1 cup reduced fat sour cream
1 jar chopped green chile peppers
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
pinch of salt
4-5 cups diced tomatoes/pico de gallo
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can corn, rinsed
12 corn tortillas
2 cups low fat shredded Mexican blend cheese

Before beginning your vegetable preparation, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 13X9 inch pan.  Then, mince the garlic, slice the onion thinly, and chop the cilantro.  Rinse the corn and black beans.  Dice the tomatoes (unless you are taking the easy way out and using prepared pico de gallo!).

Next, coat a frying pan with a dash of olive oil and add the ground turkey.  As it cooks, chop it into small pieces with a wooden spoon.  Once the ground turkey has finished cooking, set it aside in a bowl.  

Wipe the frying pan clean and add another dash of olive oil.  Cook the onion and garlic about five minutes until lightly browned and then add to the bowl containing the turkey, mixing well.

In a separate medium bowl, mix the ricotta, sour cream, cilantro, peppers, cumin, and salt.  Stir until well incorporated.

To prepare the lasagna, first spread a thin layer of tomatoes or pico across the bottom of the baking dish.  In light of keeping everyone well informed, for this particular recipe, I actually used salsa rather than diced tomatoes.  This resulted in a rather watery lasagna when I first cut into it.  The watery issue was resolved after it sat overnight in the refrigerator and ultimately wasn't a big deal, but when I make this again I will definitely use tomatoes or pico and top with the salsa instead.

Arrange the tortillas over the tomatoes. Spread a thin layer of the ricotta mixture over the tortillas.  If you use too much, this will quickly turn into a dip rather than a lasagna.

Top with a layer of the ground turkey mixture and cover with the black beans and corn.  

Last, spread the shredded cheese across the baking pan.  Repeat these layers again.

Cook for about 30 minutes in the oven.  I went with an uncovered baking dish, and didn't have any issues with burning, but if you do, cover with a piece of tinfoil.  Gratuitous oven pic!

This lasagna cost about $25 to make and lasted 5-6 meals. A great value at around $5 a meal.

Have you ever tried a variation on a traditional lasagna? 

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