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Mexican Lasagna

July 17, 2012

Fact: one can rarely go wrong when eating Mexican food.

It is comforting, its spicy, its delicious, and it involves lots of things you can eat on a chip.

This is not one of those things you can eat on a chip (although you could argue that point) but it is everything (else) you could ask for out of a Mexican dish.

This creation was the melding of the “we-need-to-use-up-the-CSA-squash” wife and the “must-have-meat” husband. (Although admittedly what meal isn’t that way… especially this time of year. Yellow summer squash, curses to you my friend, curses.) That being the case, we decided to alternate layers of seasoned chicken and sautéed veggies. You could very easily forego one layer or the other and cut down on the ingredients needed here. But as the “wife” portion of this equation, I will say it is a great way to sneak lots of veggies into your meal without even noticing.

While you may think that the seasoning on the veggies & chicken is rather light – trust me when I say that this sauce packs a PUNCH, and by the time all the layers meld together the heat and spice is just right.

Mexican Lasagna

Yield: 1 9×13 pan, approx 6-8 servings
Time: approx 1 hour, 30 minutes active

4 tomatoes, chopped into 1 inch chunks
4 cloves of garlic, diced
4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 Tbs chile powder
2 tsp spoked paprika
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 cup water (approx)
2 tsp apple cider vinegar (optional)
pinch of kosher salt

2 summer squash of some kind – yellow, zucchini, patty pan etc, diced
4 cloves of garlic, diced
1 tsp cumin

pinch of kosher salt
olive oil

3 cups shredded cooked chicken (from a whole rotisserie chicken, or grilled – perfect use of leftover chicken)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika

24 corn tortillas
oil for frying
1 round of queso fresh or approx 2 cups shredded mozzarella

Combine the tomato and garlic in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add chipotle peppers and approx 1 tsp of the adobo sauce (note: I recommend freezing the rest of the can, what recipe ever calls for a whole can anyways ?!). Allow to simmer for a few minutes until the tomatoes have begun to breakdown. Add chili powder, paprika, cumin & oregano and stir to combine. Add 1/2 cup water and allow all to simmer for 5-7 minutes , stirring occasionally. Using a stick blender, puree the sauce until smooth. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of water, and allow the sauce to simmer and reduce down over low heat. Season with salt as needed and keep warm until you are ready to assemble the layers. Keep in mind this sauce will be very spicy, but in the grand scheme of the dish its perfect. Cut down on the chili powder and add the cider vinegar to tone it down if heat is not your thing.

While the sauce is cooking, heat the olive oil in a saute pan, and saute the squash and garlic over medium heat. Season with cumin and salt and cook until softened.

Toss the chicken in a small bowl with the cumin, paprika and a spoonful of the tomato sauce to help the seasoning adhere.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

While the oven is warming up, heat 1 inch of vegetable or peanut oil in a large saute pan  over medium heat, until the oil is approx 350 degrees. Carefully par-fry (that makes sense… right??) the corn tortillas, just 5 seconds on each side, and then remove to a paper towel to drain. You could very well skip this step if you want to avoid the oil, but the quick fry gives just enough crisp to the tortilla to create good layers and prevent all the sauce from just soaking in to the corn.

Once you are done frying the tortilla, its assembly time! Start with a thin layer of the sauce on the bottom of the pan. Follow with layers of tortilla, then with chicken, topped with sauce and sprinkled with cheese. Repeat, this time with the squash. The next time around the filling will be a combo of both chicken and veggies (unless you feel like bulking it up and adding an extra layer to separate). Layer with the final tortillas, top with remaining sauce and one last sprinkle of cheese.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the cheese and tortillas have browned and crisped up on top.

Serve with any of your favorite Mexican toppings or side dishes – personally I think its perfect with a little dollop of sour cream, fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 17, 2012 6:17 pm

    this looks awesome! i’m still trying to figure out what else to make for dinner this week + I might have to try this. love it!

  2. Michael B permalink
    September 28, 2012 9:13 pm

    If this was all vegetables, just double them to accommodate the extra layers?


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