As with most of my "surprise" recipes, I thawed out some ground beef and I did not have a clear plan on what I was going to do with it. I knew I wanted Mexican food, but I am running low on tortillas. That excluded a lot of possibilities. I decided to assemble a Mexican lasagna of sorts, using lasagna noodles for the layers instead of tortillas. I followed a basic Italian lasagna method, but used Mexican-inspired ingredients instead. I am hoping that it will be really yummy, so keep your fingers crossed for me!!!
Also, I whipped up a batch of guacamole to serve with my "surprise" dish. I love fresh guacamole, and I have two different recipes that I use frequently. The one I used tonight is the easiest, and I will post it below.
Jen's Mexican Lasagna Surprise
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
1 lb. of lean ground beef
1 onion diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small can of green chiles, diced
1/2 cup of salsa
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of coriander
1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika
salt and pepper, to taste
1 Tablespoon of butter
1 can of refried beans
1 box of no-boil lasagna noodles (I used Barilla brand)
2 (7 3/4 oz. each) cans of El Pato salsa de chile fresco
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese, divided
3 Roma tomatoes, sliced into disks
1 small can of sliced black olives, drained
sour cream for topping
guacamole for topping
chopped green onions for garnish
chopped cilantro for garnish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 9 x 13 casserole dish with cooking spray. Add 1 can of El Pato to the bottom of the greased casserole dish. Cover with lasagna noodles. Set aside.
In a large skillet, combine olive oil, ground beef, onions, and green chiles. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, paprika, coriander, and cumin. Cook beef through until no longer pink. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add salsa and mix thoroughly.
Once beef mixture is cooked through, remove from skillet with large spoon and spread it over the lasagna noodles in the casserole dish. Make even layer. Sprinkle beef mixture with 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese. Add another layer of lasagna noodles, covering the beef noodles and set aside again.
In your same skillet (no need to wipe it or wash it out), melt the butter. Add refried beans to melted butter. Using the back of a spatula or wooden spoon, mash and mix the beans with the butter so they are pliable. Once beans are mixed with the butter and soft, scoop out the beans and spread them over the lasagna noodles in the casserole dish. Make sure layer is even. Add another layer of lasagna noodles. Pour second can of El Pato over noodles. Top with tomato slices. Sprinkle shredded cheese over the top. Sprinkle black olive slices over top of the cheese/tomatoes and cover the casserole dish with foil.
Bake covered at 375 degrees, for 45 minutes. Then, uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until cheese is golden and bubbly. Remove dish from oven and let the lasagna rest for 10 minutes before cutting. Cut into squares and serve. Top with chopped green onions, chopped cilantro, sour cream and/or guacamole, and enjoy!
Jen's Super-Easy Guacamole
4 ripe avocados, diced into chunks
Your favorite salsa
salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients to taste in a bowl with a fork. Mash some of the avocado, using your preference for creaminess/chunkiness as a guideline (i.e. mash it more for a creamier texture, and less for a chunkier texture). Adjust seasoning, if needed.
This dish is a total keeper! It was soooooooo yummy!!! I am really happy with how this recipe turned out, and I would not hesitate to make it again. The lasagna noodles worked out perfectly, and the sauce gave it a slightly spicy edge. Yum! All the layers worked in perfect union with the others, and I loved my guacamole with it. Fan-freakin'-tastic!!!