Crowd Pleaser, Easy Freezer: Mexican Lasagna

Our teenager, like many teens, has a desire to spend money and is busy beyond belief (no time for a job).  Enter: cooking for money.

At Christmas, he made The Pioneer Woman’s Cinnamon Rolls – they sold like hotcakes. To make money for his Winter Formal, we decided to try savory. I say we because I was in the kitchen with him as he made the mess. This Mexican Lasagna is so easy to make that a teenage boy can do it!  You can too. This recipe is a crowd pleaser and is very flexible. Customers gave rave reviews.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • taco spices (chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, sea salt)
  • yellow onion + garlic (optional, but adds flavor)
  • 3 cans black beans, rinsed & drained (or 1 lb dried then cooked – see end of post for how to use InstantPot to make the beans)
  • 28 oz can petite diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 2 medium jalapeños, seeds & veins (white insides) removed
  • 1 pound or more shredded cheese
  • package of corn tortillas (I used 27.5 oz pkg)
  • red onion, for garnish
  • sour cream, for garnish

Instructions

Brown the beef, season as making tacos.  I use about 2T chili powder, 1 T cumin, 1t smoked paprika, 1+/- T salt. Always taste as you go along.  If you’re not sure, start small and build up amounts. I like to use a fresh onion and several cloves of garlic – these are great immune boosters and inexpensive so I use them liberally when cooking.  But onion and garlic powder are OK, too. Taste and adjust as your taste buds direct.

In a large bowl, pour the rinsed and drained black beans.  Add a large can of diced tomatoes (I save the tomato juice for making Spanish Rice. I used this InstantPot recipe, with a few tweaks…omit bullion cubes, they usually have MSG. Add 1-2t sea salt instead.) Rinse and shake excess water from the bunch of cilantro. Chop all except bottom inch(es) of the stems, which you can discard. The stem of cilantro is totally edible, unless they’re really woody or thick.

Don’t be afraid of the jalapeño. Here’s how to chop it without burning your hands.

Mix all the above together. Taste a spoonful. Need more salt? Probably so.

Yield: 2 pans 9×13 or 3 pans of 8×8

Assemblyimg_20190219_102855623

In a 9×13 pan, layer corn tortillas. The amount is up to you.  I usually do a thickness of two tortillas and have to halve or quarter them to get them to fit in the pan.

If using a 9×13 pan, layer about 3 cups of the mixture of beef and beans. Sprinkle a good layer of cheese on top.  Layer again the corn tortillas, beef/beans and finally more cheese. Garnish with half moons of red onion, as many or few as you like.

Bake at 350*, covered, for about 30 minutes. Then remove foil and bake until warm through and cheese is completely melted. Serve with generous amounts of full-fat sour cream.

Notes
img_20190219_102958254

– This can be easily halved, doubled, tripled or quadrupled.

– You could add a can of drained sweet corn, or a bag of frozen corn.

Freeze the innards in a zip-top bag and assemble before eating.  Or, if you have the freezer space: assemble, cover with foil, and bake just before serving.

– I have a 6 quart InstantPot (IP) and love it. Beans and bone broth are my favorite things to make in it. I rinse and soak 2 pounds of dried black beans overnight. In the morning, heat a bit of avocado oil in the IP using the sauté function. Once the oil is shimmery, pour in 1-2T cumin seeds. Then a chopped onion and/or chopped garlic. If using ground cumin, sauté onion before adding ground spices. When the onion is translucent, add the drained beans, and fill with water at least an inch above the beans. Add 1T sea salt, a generous dash of cayenne, and a bay leaf. Lock the top and set for 6 minutes. Natural release the pressure. When cool enough to handle, drain the beans and use in the above recipe.  Three cans of beans is about one pound of dried beans.

img_20190212_123547222
Spanish Rice helps make this meal stretch.

 

 

 

 

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