Mexican Lasagna

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What to make for dinner?  That’s the question I found myself asking yesterday.  Repeated peeks into the refrigerator, freezer and pantry had revealed nothing that seemed to entice me.  So off to wander the store I went, hoping for some inspiration to strike me.

I made my way to the meat counter first, figuring if I could decide on a protein the rest would fall into place.  Right away I saw some nice pork chops and moved in to grab some, excusing myself as I reached in front of a nice gentleman.  I turned around, plopped them in the cart and within a few steps thought to myself, I really don’t want pork as we just had a pork tenderloin a few days ago.  I grabbed them out of the cart, excused myself again as I reached past him to place them back.  He chuckled a little and was fine with it.  Blankly staring up and down the meat and poultry, I picked up and put back at least ten different things.  By this time, I was getting annoyed and had visible frustration on my face.  The same gentleman had grabbed various meat items and had gathered other items from two different aisles when he came back by me.  He didn’t say anything, but looked at me as if I was insane.  I was!

I finally decided to just get some ground beef, as anything else would have taken the rest of my day to decide on.  Now what do I do with it?  Hamburgers, sloppy Joes, meatloaf – nothing sounded good.  I know what your thinking; the gentleman was right.  Small beads of sweat had now formed on my brow as I quickly walked to the pasta aisle.  As I peered at the huge variety my eyes caught boxes of lasagna sheets.  I reached up for a box teetering on the top shelf, grabbed hold of it and spun around to see the guy again.  I saw him actually start turning his cart around when he saw me, but changed his mind and decided to venture down the aisle anyways.  No matter; I had what I needed and was leaving anyways…so I thought.

I got as far as three aisles over, when I did it again.  I don’t think I want lasagna or at least not in the traditional sense.  What about a Mexican style with taco meat, olives, cheese and using tortillas in place of the pasta?  With my recipe in place I returned to the pasta aisle and there he was, standing right in front of where I needed to put the box back.  He caught me out of the corner of his eye, but tried his best to imagine I just wasn’t there, standing and waiting.  I almost said excuse me again but was afraid he’d go off on me, so I set it on a shelf and turned in shame.  After gathering the rest of my things, I got in a checkout line that had just opened up.  As I was placing my groceries on the conveyer, the gentleman had just arrived to checkout.  He took one look at me and proceeded to stand in a much longer line.  Wise move…my crazy just might just be contagious.  Enjoy!

I started by heating 2 tablespoons oil in a wide fry pan over medium high heat.  I added 1 1/4 pounds of lean ground beef and cooked until browned about 6-8 minutes then drained off the fat.

In a food processor, I combined 1  chopped onion, 6 chopped garlic cloves, 2 seeded jalapenos chopped and 1 red bell pepper seeded and chopped then pulsed until finely minced.  You can skip this step and just finely chop all of these if you prefer.

I added the minced onion mix to the meat along with 3 teaspoons New Mexico chile powder, 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 3 teaspoons ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander, a 10 oz can Rotel, a 4 oz can roasted diced green chiles, 2/3 of a 10 oz can medium enchilada sauce, 4 ounces tomato sauce and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.  I let it simmer over medium heat for about 15-20 minutes until it thickened and was no longer runny.

After it had thickened, I stirred in 1 small bunch of chopped cilantro.

While the meat was simmering, I filled a small fry pan with about 1/4 inch of oil over medium heat and fried 18 tortillas for 10 seconds/side then drained them on a paper towel lined rack, blotting both sides with additional paper towels.

I coated a 9×13 pan with cooking spray, then spread 1/2 of the remaining enchilada sauce over the bottom of the pan.  I layed 6 tortillas in the pan overlapping each, then spread 1/3 of the beans over them.  I spread 1/3 of the meat over the beans followed by 1/3 of the green onions and olives then topped with 1/3 of both the cheeses.  I repeated the steps two more times then drizzled the remaining enchilad sauce over the top and baked it in a 375 degree oven uncovered for about 35-40 minutes.

And this is what I ended up with.  Good stuff.  Enjoy!


Mexican Lasagna
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This layered casserole is a hit with kids and has all the flavors of tacos in one easy dish. This also reheats well without the tortillas getting soggy thanks to a quick flash frying prior to baking.
Recipe type: Entree, Main
Serves: 8
  • 1¼ pounds lean ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons oil + oil for frying
  • 1 onion roughly chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves roughly chopped
  • 2 jalapenos seeded and roughly chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper roughly chopped
  • 3 teaspoons New Mexico chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano ground with your fingers
  • 1 10 oz can Rotel
  • 1 4 oz can roasted diced green chiles
  • 1 10 oz can medium hot enchilada sauce-divided
  • 4 oz tomato sauce
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 small bunch cilantro chopped
  • 18 corn tortillas
  • 1 16 oz can refried beans
  • 3 cups shredded cheese
  • ½ cup crumbled queso fresco cheese
  • 1 6 oz can black olives drained and sliced
  • 4 green onions sliced
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a wide fry pan over medium high heat. Add the ground beef and cook until browned about 6-8 minutes then drain the fat off.
  2. In a food processor combine the onion, garlic, jalapeno and red bell and pulse until minced. If you don't own a food processor, finely chop the ingredients. Add this to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes to soften.
  3. Add both chile powders, cumin, cayenne, coriander, oregano, Rotel, diced green chiles, ⅔ of the enchilada sauce, tomato sauce and salt. Stir to combine and let simmer on medium for 15-20 minutes until thickened and not runny. Stir in the chopped cilantro.
  4. While the sauce is simmering, fill a smal fry pan with about ¼ inch of oil over medium heat. Fry the tortillas one at a time for about 10 seconds/side and drain on a rack lined with paper towels. Remove excess oil from them with additional paper towels. (This step keeps the tortillas from getting soggy when cooking.)
  5. Heat the beans in a microwave. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray then pour ½ of the remaining enchilada sauce in the bottom and spread to coat.
  6. Lay 6 tortillas in the pan overlapping each other. Spread ⅓ of the beans on top of the tortillas. Spread ⅓ of the meat mixture over that then top with ⅓ of the olives and green onions. Sprinkle ⅓ of both cheeses on top and repeat the layers 2 more times. Drizzle the remaining enchilada sauce over the top. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 35-40 minutes.


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