MEXICAN LASAGNA

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~ serves 8; gluten-free option & nut-free

- 1 lb lean ground beef

- 1 lb lean ground turkey

- 1 large onion, diced

- 1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil

 - 1 red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, diced

- 1, 4 oz jar diced green chili peppers

- 1, 16 oz jar mild or medium salsa (preferably preservative free)

- 1, 15 oz can diced tomatoes, drained

- 1, 6 oz jar tomato paste

- 1, 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

- 1, 15 oz can refried beans

- ¼ cup warm water

- 4 cups grated cheese (a combo of cheddar and Monterey Jack)

- 1, 3.8 oz can sliced black olives (optional), drained

- 2 ½ teaspoons ground cumin (divided)

- 1 ½ TBSP chili powder

- 1 TBSP + 1 teaspoon garlic powder (divided)

- 1 teaspoon dried oregano

- ½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

- ½ teaspoon sea salt

- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

- 9 corn tortillas or other tortilla of choice (gluten-free if desired), cut in half

- ¼ cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped

- Sour cream or Greek yogurt for serving

     Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9 x13 inch casserole or baking dish with cooking spray or olive oil.

     Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet, add the ground beef, ground turkey, diced onions and bell pepper. Brown the meat until it is no longer pink,  breaking it into small chunks as you stir. Add the spices (only 2 teaspoons cumin and 1 TBSP garlic powder + all the remaining) to the skillet and stir to combine. Turn the heat off and set the meat/cooked vegetables aside.

     Next, blend the salsa, tomato paste, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, and ½ teaspoon cumin together using a small blender or food processor. Transfer to a separate bowl to use later.

     In the baking dish, spoon a small amount of the meat/vegetable mixture into the bottom of the pan. Top with 6 of the halved tortillas. Spread ⅓ of the refried beans on the tortillas (add ¼ cup warm water to the beans and stir in a separate bowl if they are too thick to spread) and add ⅓ of the salsa/tomato paste mixture over top. Next, layer ⅓ of the diced tomatoes, ⅓ of the black beans, ⅓ of the shredded cheese, ⅓ of the green chili peppers, and ⅓ of the black olives. Start the layering again with the meat, tortillas, beans, salsa mixture, diced tomatoes, cheese, chili peppers, and black olives. Repeat for a third layer.

     Bake the lasagna in the oven for 30-35 minutes (uncovered), until the cheese gets melty and the sides are bubbling. Remove from the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes prior to cutting.

     Top with chopped cilantro and/or sour cream or Greek yogurt and serve.

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