My friends and I gathered for a “halaqa fiesta” today. A halaqa is a study circle where (usually) religious matters are discussed. The fiesta part was a “Mexican” themed menu. I put “Mexican” in quotes because, just as “Chinese” food is not authentically Chinese, many foods we attribute to Mexico are not really Mexican at all. I learned this from a friend of mine (Serenity…yes that’s her real name; she’s not a Mary Sue character I made up, 😉 lived in Mexico for many years and knows real Mexican food from what we think of.
Nevertheless, we made what we thought of as Mexican food. I made Mexican lasagna. I had seen and used a recipe many years ago and remembered only that it was layers of tortilla and beans and…stuff. Since I was busy with work most of the week, I had to make the quick version. This meant canned beans, whatever vegetables and improvisation.
I started by adding one layer of (whole wheat) tortilla on the bottom, after oiling it so it wouldn’t stick. Then I added a thin layer of beans (I only bought 3 cans, so it had to last me a few layers), sliced some small onions, sprinkled some chipotle chili powder and some crushed tomatoes in puree (also canned).
I repeated this a few times, adding (organic) Mexican cheese blend to every other layer (first, third, etc) and then to the topmost layer, which ended with a tortilla.
Tortillas are round, so I had to cut off the ends to make it straight-edged on the sides and used the remaining pieces to cover the corners of the pan. (I was tempted to make this vegan, and even bought vegan cheese…but decided against it. 🙂
I also added different spices in each layer. I was winging it, which is SOOO unlike me. I’m a “I need a recipe to follow” and “let me follow it to an almost T” kind of girl, so I was treading on new territory. I’m always afraid of adding too much, not enough, or not the right mix of spices.
Apparently it was a great hit as there was only a small piece of this dish left when I took the pan home. And, my friends couldn’t tell it was vegetarian (is that good thing or a bad thing? :). Sorry for the not-so-great picture. I was reminded by a friend that I could blog about this only after it was cut into and this was the only picture that was “pre-slicing”.
For the ingredients, I used:
- Wegmans whole wheat tortillas (not the best, but certainly not the worst. Hard to find high quality tortillas).
- Wegmans organic crushed tomatoes in tomato puree
- Eden organic refried black beans and pinto beans (one can of each. FYI: Eden organic is one of the few companies that does not use BPA in its cans and actually hasn’t in MANY years, before it was publicly known to be bad for us).
- garlic powder, paprika, smoked paprika (Trader Joe’s), chipotle chili powder (VERY spicy, so I only used a little) and cumin seed powder…a little in each layer
- salt (a little in two layers)
- Horizon Organic shredded Mexican cheese blend
I didn’t bake it, but I asked my friend to bake it until the cheese melted on top (350 for 20 minutes?).
If you had some, let me know what you thought. And if you make it, let me know what you did!