July 22, 2007

Lasagna of a different sort.

I posted this recipe about a year ago but came across it again recently. I think it's definitely a keeper. I love taking recipes for familiar, comforting foods and just twisting them a bit into something new. This lasagna might sound a little odd, but we love it. Many of the key Italian flavors are replaced by Mexican ones - cilantro instead of basil, black beans instead of meat, and a tomato sauce gets spiked with salsa.

If you can find fresh pasta sheets, definitely use those, otherwise normal lasagna noodles or the no-boil ones work really well. Of all the lasagna I've made, the ones that turn out the best include whole-milk ricotta, good quality aged parmigiano-reggiano and plenty of fresh herbs. You really can't go wrong if you use high quality cheese, especially the ricotta. A few months ago I made a lasagna with skim-milk ricotta and it was pretty awful - tasteless and dry instead of rich and creamy. This recipe is like most though and substitutions abound. Spicy sausage or ground meat would be a nice alternative, as would adding mixed roasted vegetables. This recipe makes a 9x13 pan so there's plenty to freeze for later!

Black Bean and Spinach Lasagna
  • 12 no-boil lasagna noodles, or 9 long lasagna noodles, cooked and drained
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 (16 oz) jar medium chunky salsa
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 pkg frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15 oz) container whole milk ricotta
  • 1 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup shredded monterey jack
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the onions and bell pepper, cook until onions are quite soft. Add the garlic, cumin and chili powder and cook 2 more minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and salsa, cover and simmer on low heat for 15-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, while you prepare the other ingredients.

In a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta, egg, and parmigiano. Add a little milk or cream to loosen the mixture a bit, so that it spreads easily. Season with black pepper.
Drain the set aside both the black beans and the spinach. Taste the tomato sauce, adding salt, pepper or more spice, if needed. The sauce can taste a little acidic but it will balance out once combined with the pasta and cheeses. Stir in the cilantro and turn off the heat.

Put a ladle full of sauce over the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Put down a layer of lasagna noodles, then half the ricotta mixture. Next, sprinkle on half the black beans and spinach, some shredded mozzarella and monterey jack and top with a small amount of tomato sauce. Repeat by layering the noodles, ricotta, beans and spinach, shredded cheese and sauce. Top with final lasagna noodles, the remaining tomato sauce and sprinkle with a generous covering of cheese.

Bake, covered, at 375 degrees F for 45 minutes. Remove the foil/cover and bake another 15-20 minutes, or until browned and bubbling. Serves 8.


katiez said...

Mexican lasagne - what a great idea!
I agree that it's not easy substituting lo-fat and light stuff and still getting good flavor and texture - so I don't! I'm trying the 'don't eat so much' tactic!

michelle said...

Ohhhh, that looks so good! Must try on the next not-too-warm day! :)

Nirmala said...

This looks awesome. You know what I've tried with success? Replacing the ricotta with cottage cheese and/or tofu. It tastes amazing!

Jennifer said...

Yum! I love lasagna of all stripes, and a vegetarian option is a great thing to have on hand. I bet this would be good with chorizo too for a non-veg variation.

Megan said...

Katiez - Yes, I also practice the "don't eat so much" method...well, sometimes!

Michelle - Thanks!

Nirmala - That sounds good! When I'm feeling sinful, I stir in about 1/2 cup of cream cheese to the ricotta to make it super creamy. It's SO good.

Jennifer - I'd eat anything with chorizo, so I would imagine it would improve this greatly =) Thanks for the suggestion!

Sorina said...

Wow that does look beautiful...I think I will start cooking this now.