Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Mexican Lasagne

Most Australians don't "get" Mexican food. Up until a year ago, I was one of them. Despite a trip to the United States about 20 years ago where I did, in fact, taste real Mexican food, I always considered it to be "convenience food" in Australia - bought in packets and tins from the supermarket then assembled at home with little actual cooking involved. My food-snobbery wouldn't allow me to consider that worthy of a place at my table. If that was Mexican food - forget it!

That all changed on a family trip to the States a year ago. Our whole family fell in love with the tastes of Mexico. A trip to Old Town, San Diego will do that to you.

I'm not sure this qualifies as "real" Mexican food, but is does have all the zesty, spicy flavours of it. While "real" Mexican food is soooo much more than opening cans and packets, this recipe is a real store cupboard gem.

I've managed to pack my food-snobbery away (in a tin) and embrace this meal as a truly home-cooked Mexican family favourite. If I ever second-guess it's worthiness, I'll just cut another slice and make another margarita. I'll drink to that!

Mexican Lasagne
from Nigella Lawson's Nigella Kitchen
Serves 8


·         1 tablespoon garlic flavoured oil
·         1 onion, peeled and chopped
·         1 red capsicum, seeded and chopped
·         2 green chillies, chopped, with seeds
·         1 teaspoon sea salt flakes or 1/2 teaspoon table salt
·         2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander stalks
·         2 x 400g cans diced tomatoes, plus 400ml water to rinse out empty cans
·         1 tablespoon ketchup
·         2 x 400g cans black beans, drained and rinsed (if you can’t get them, use kidney beans)
·         1 x 400g drained canned corn.
·         2 1/2 cups grated mature goats Cheddar, or cheese of your choice ( I use Manchego, my new favourite!)
·         4 big soft flour tortillas (I buy Old El Paso Jumbo) they fit my dish beautifully.
·         1 round ovenproof dish, approximately 26cms diameter and 6cms deep
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C, slipping in a baking sheet ( to catch a any drips) at the same time.
For the sauce:
Heat the oil in a saucepan on the stove and fry the onion, capsicums and chillies. Add the salt and cook gently for 15 minutes, and once soft, add the chopped coriander stalks.
Add the canned tomatoes then rinse the cans out with water and add this too. Spoon in the ketchup and let things come to a simmer, leaving the sauce to cook while you get on with preparing the filling - about 10 minutes.
For the filling: 
Mix the drained beans and canned corn in a bowl. Add most of the grated cheese, reserving some to sprinkle on the top at the end, and mix together.
To assemble:
Spoon about a third of the salsa into the bottom of your ovenproof dish and smear it about, then layer on a tortilla. Add a third of the beans and cheese mixture covering the tortillas, and then about a quarter of the remaining salsa and another tortilla.
Repeat with another third of beans and cheese, and more salsa before layering on another tortilla.
Finally, add the last layer of beans and cheese, all of the remaining salsa and cover with the tortilla. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the last tortilla.
Bake for 30 minutes, and let it rest for a good 10 to 15 minutes before slicing like a pizza.
Pretend you're back in Old Town and ask who ever is pouring to make you another margarita too.

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