Friday, May 2, 2008

Whip Up Easy Vegetarian Mexican Lasagna For Cinco de Mayo

Want a super easy main dish for Cinco de Mayo?
Need something quick for a festive pot luck?
Think vegetarian cuisine is boring?

Try my

Vegetarian Mexican Lasagna
Serves 4

1/2 pound (8 oz.) ground, vegetarian meat
1 (12-16 oz.) jar salsa (any type made without sugar or corn syrup)
6 (5 1/4 inch) corn tortillas
1 (16 oz.) can vegetarian or fat free refried beans
1 cup regular sour cream (low fat or fat free not recommended)
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded cheese (cheddar, jack or Mexican blend)
1 (3-4 oz.) can sliced black olives (drained - optional)
Balsamic vinegar for serving (optional garnish)


Position oven rack so casserole will bake in the center. Preheat to 400 degrees.

Lightly mist an 8 -10 cup non metal casserole with cooking spray. If it has a lid, mist it, too, other wise mist a piece of foil to use as a lid.

Cook the veggie meat according to package directions.

Put 1/2 the salsa in the bottom of the prepared casserole. Top with 3 tortillas (cutting to fit). Spread tortillas with 1/2 the beans, 1/2 the meat, 1/2 the remaining salsa, 1/2 the sour cream. Top with remaining tortillas and repeat layers. Sprinkle top with olives and cheese. Cover with lid or loosely with foil.

Bake in preheated oven until bubbling - about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with balsamic vinegar, if desired.

Serve with shredded iceberg lettuce and some vinaigrette dressing or extra balsamic vinegar.

Karla's tips:
Vegetarian "meat" is readily available in the freezer section of grocery stores. My meat loving husband even enjoys it.

Most salsa comes in 16 oz. jars but a little more (say 18-20 oz) won't hurt so use it all unless you don't mind the leftovers.

Refried beans are loaded with lard. Lard is pork fat. Vegetarian refried beans are made with oil instead.
Make fat free "refried" beans by mashing 1 (15-16 oz.) can of un-drained kidney beans. Add a little water or broth if necessary to make it spread-able.

You probably think it's strange that this recipe calls for fat free beans then calls for full fat sour cream. The fact is that regular sour cream tastes and cooks so much better than the low fat or fat free kinds. Food must always taste good!

Unless you're a label reader, you'll be surprised to learn that most packaged, pre-shredded cheese is dusted with an invisible film of starch or cellulose to keep it from sticking together.

Look for pre-shredded cheese without additives or get a block of your favorite cheese and shred it in the food processor.

Meat lovers can use lean ground beef in place of the veggie ground meat.


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