Main Dishes · Vegetarian

Mexican Lasagna

My aunt made this Mexican Lasagna years ago for my family.  It was the night before Christmas and she was staying overnight from out of town.  For that reason this recipe is very nostalgic for me, and I have made it numerous times since, including for my now-husband on our first date 🙂  It is  based on a recipe for enchiladas found in The Horn of the Moon cookbook by Ginny Callan, which was gifted to me by that same beloved aunt, and which over the years has introduced me to a world of tasty vegetarian delights!

This is Everything You’ll Need

  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 small summer squash, diced
  • 1 jalepeno, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 ears corn, corn taken off cob
  • 2 tsp each dried oregano and basil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 10-12 corn tortillas
  • 2 cups salsa
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped basil
  • 1 tomato, sliced

Start by sauteing the onion over medium heat, about 2 minutes.  Add the red pepper, saute 2 minutes more.  Add the zucchini, saute 2 minutes more.  Add the jalapeno, garlic, cumin, oregano, basil, salt and pepper, and saute 2 minutes more.

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Meanwhile, mash the beans in a large bowl, until mostly mashed but a few pieces of bean are intact.  Stir in the corn and then the onion mixture.  Taste and adjust the seasoning to taste.

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Spread about 2 tbsp salsa in the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. This is just to wet the bottom slightly and prevent the tortillas from sticking.

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Make a single layer of tortillas on the bottom of the baking dish, with minimal overlapping.  I always cut the tortillas in various shapes and sizes to achieve this.  Spread half the veggie mixture over the tortillas, then 1 cup of salsa.  Repeat with another layer of tortillas, the rest of the veggie mixture, and 1 cup of salsa.

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At this point I like to put a final layer of tortillas over the top, cover these with 2 tbsp salsa just to moisten them a bit, and then the cheese.  The extra layer of tortillas bulks up the meal, but you can skip this and just put the cheese directly on the layer of veggie mixture and salsa.

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Decorate the top of the salsa with some sliced tomato and fresh basil.  Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 4o minutes.  Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes.

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Serve the lasagna with salsa, sour cream, and guacamole.  The first time I ate this lasagna was also the first time I ate guacamole, so again, this step has sentimental value to me.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I always have!

Tips and Tricks

  • I always saute vegetables in stages, with things that take less time to cook added to the pan later.  Garlic always goes last, and I never add it with the onion as is often suggested in recipes.  This is a very common error, and unfortunately results in garlic that is overcooked and bitter.
  • The most efficient way to saute in steps is to chop the next veggie while the others cook.  So, while my onion is sauteing, I am chopping the bell pepper that goes in after it.
  • Use high quality, low sodium ingredients so that you have control over the seasoning and flavor of this dish.  I use Goya low sodium beans, and my favorite low sodium, organic salsa from Trader Joe’s.
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