Thursday, October 28, 2010

Easy Entertaining: Mexican Lasagna

I love, love, love, Mexican food.  But I haven't really ventured into making anything but tacos and quesadillas at home.  Now, I don't know whether Mexican lasagna really counts as true Mexican food, but in my Yankee mind, it must come close since the flavors are all there.  This is a great dish that I've made several times in several different ways -- a few times I added a can of refried beans to the layers (good but a little difficult to spread), and sometimes I don't add cilantro or the jalapenos.  The good thing about this recipe is that it's delicious and makes enough for company, a large family, or simply for seconds (and thirds).

Mexican Lasagna
(Adapted by Kelly Oliver from Robin Miller's "Quick Fix Meals")

Cooking spray
12 ounces cooked chicken, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
1 cup sour cream (regular or low-fat)
1 can black beans, drained (optional)
(NOTE: I usually use a bag of the Mexican blended shredded cheese for the cheese in this recipe, rather than using these two different kinds of cheeses.)
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (regular or low-fat), divided
1 cup shredded Cheddar (regular or low-fat), divided
½ cup mild, medium or hot salsa
1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon ground chili powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas, cut into 6 wedges (I usually use about 10 tortillas.)
Salt, to taste (I like to use at least 1/4 tsp.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat an 11 by 7-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine chicken, sour cream, black beans, 3/4 cup of the Monterey Jack cheese, 3/4 cup of the Cheddar, salsa, chiles, cilantro, chili powder, and cayenne pepper. Mix well and set aside.

Arrange half of the tortilla pieces in the bottom of prepared pan, overlapping pieces slightly to cover the surface. Top with half of the chicken mixture and smooth over with the back of a spoon to even the top. Layer remaining tortillas over top, and spoon over remaining chicken mixture. Top with remaining 1/4 cup each of Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses. 

Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 30 more minutes, until top is golden and bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

To reheat, bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 15 minutes.

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