Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Enchilada Lasagna

Recipe modified by Gretchen Wilson – November 2010
For a commentary-free and printer-friendly version of it, please click here.

Recipe originally published in Taste of Home, June/July 2010.

Here’s a small list of some of the things I love:
  • Casseroles
  • Mexican Food
  • Lasagna

This dish is all three.  With the ease of a casserole (it definitely beats rolling enchiladas), it replaces the calorie and carb-busting pasta with flour tortillas, and has a great Mexican flavor.  The recipe gives you room to make it a little spicier if you need it and you can always serve it with your favorite Chipotle hot sauce.

My finished product:

Picture published with recipe:

© Taste of Home

I always get irritated when my dish doesn’t come close to matching the published one.  Now I give myself a little room here since cutting a perfect slice of casserole (with a base layer of sauce) is kind of a tricky business.  That aside, Taste of Home’s lasagna looks thicker and yummier.  Upon closer inspection, I did notice that some of the ingredients are different.  For example, those are clearly red onions, which were not in the ingredient listing.  Also, the directions finish off the top with the cheese, but there are chopped (not stewed tomatoes) on top of theirs.  This leads me to conclude that perhaps the recipe wasn't entirely accurate.

It doesn’t really matter because my enchilada lasagna was really tasty, but I don’t like the tricks of some of the magazines/websites out there.

for more details about what my ratings mean, go to Gretchen’s Rating System

Mess:  SIGH – This could have been an EH rating, but layering lasagna (even the traditional Italian kind) is a super mess all in itself.  Scooping and transferring sauce is a messy proposition and of course you have to spread cheese mixture on top of it.

Start-to-Finish Time: Over an Hour – it is pretty straight forward with minimal prep, but the sauce has to simmer and you are going to have to let it sit after it bakes.

Prep Work: SLIGHT BLOOD LOSS – Although the picture shows different, there is only an onion to chop and it doesn’t have to be precise.

Ease of Recipe: THE BASICS – It’s fairly easy, but you might get frustrated spreading with the first layer with cheese.  By the second layer, you’ll know what works and what doesn’t.

Overall:  YUMMY – If I have a hankering for enchiladas, I’d prefer doing it in this casserole to rolling them up the traditional way.  I may also try substituting the onion with red onion and chop some fresh tomatoes.

Recipe Information:
Prep: 45 minutes
Bake: 30 minutes + 15 minutes standing
Servings: 12

Nutritional Information (1 piece or 1/12th of the casserole)
  • Calories 387
  • Total Fat 21g (Saturated Fat 11g)
  • Cholesterol 87mg
  • Sodium 771mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 25g
  • Fiber 1g
  • Protein 25g
You really can get the sauce and lasagna assembled in less than 45 minutes, but not less than a half-hour.  As for the portion size, you can see the difference between my lasagna and their lasagna, so prepare a side of beans and rice with a salad.

Changes denoted by red text

1½ pounds ground sirloin
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 can (14½ ounces) stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 can (10 ounces) enchilada sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 egg, beaten
1½ cups (12 ounces) no-fat & small curd cottage cheese
3 cups (12 ounces) reduced fat shredded Mexican cheese blend
8 flour tortillas (8 inches), cut in half
1 cup (4 ounces) reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese
Cooking spray

Ingredient Notes:
Ground Sirloin – originally calling for ground beef, ground sirloin is a leaner cut of beef with a lower fat content.  Yes it is slightly more expensive, but it can save some calories and fat.

Onion – the original recipe has regular onion (yellow or white) but Taste of Home clearly prepared it with red onion.  So if you like the slightly sweet taste of red onion, you can substitute it.

Garlic – to save yourself some time, you can use the pre-minced that is found in the produce section near the fresh garlic.

Stewed Tomatoes – Taste of Home used a specific brand of stewed tomato.  The grocery store I went to had a generic brand which was significantly less expensive.  Since the tomato is not the “star” of the dish, feel free to use your own store’s generic brand of tomato if you want.

Cumin – the recipe calls for 1 to 2 teaspoons of cumin.  I am a little conservative so I only used 1 teaspoon and really liked the flavor.  If you want more "spice" you can add up to another teaspoon or serve it with your favorite Chipotle hot sauce.

No-fat & Small Curd Cottage Cheese
  • To lessen the calorie and fat count of this dish, I specifically looked for a no-fat cottage cheese.  It still gave the cheese mixture a nice thick texture.
  • One of the appeals of regular Italian lasagna is the creamy ricotta cheese between the layers.  The smaller curd cottage cheese closely mimics the original’s texture.

Reduced-Fat Shredded Mexican Cheese Blend – most of the time, it is hard to find a cheese blend that is reduced-fat, but the Mexican blend is one of those that usually has that option.  Use it to save yourself some of the fat content.

Flour Tortillas – try to stick with the original flour tortillas or use corn.  Corn tortillas can be a little crispier when baked, but it is lower in calories and fat.

Reduced-Fat Shredded Cheddar Cheese - you can use sharp or mild.  Whatever saves you calories and fat content works.  Make sure it is a fine shred, though, because you want it to melt and look "gooey" instead of being in large chunks on top of your casserole.

Cooking Spray – they forgot to mention in the ingredient listing that you needed to grease a baking dish.  Cooking Spray is probably the easiest way to go.

Equipment Needed:
Cutting board
Sharp knife
Small bowl (beating egg)
Fork or whisk (beating egg)
Dutch oven
Large spoon
Small bowl
Spoon - mixing
13"x9" Baking dish
Plastic Spatula (for spreading cheese mixture)
Aluminum foil

Equipment Notes:
Dutch Oven – I used my Dutch oven instead of the large skillet Taste of Home used because I don’t have a large and deep skillet.  You need to be able to brown meat & onions and stir sauce without spilling it over the side.

Aluminum Foil – You need to cover the casserole to cook it, so if you are using a dish that doesn’t have a oven-safe lid, use aluminum foil.

(1)  In a Dutch oven, cook the beef, onion and garlic over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.  If you are using ground sirloin, you should have very little fat to drain from the mixture.

(2)  Stir in the tomatoes, enchilada sauce and cumin.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

(3)  In a small bowl, combine egg and cottage cheese; set aside.

(4)  Grease a 13"x9" baking dish with cooking spray and spread a third of the meat sauce into it.

(5)  Layer with half of the cheese blend, tortillas, cottage cheese mixture and remaining meat sauce. Repeat layers. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese.  The easiest to spread the cheese mixture is to place small spoonfuls all over the tortillas, then using a plastic spatula (like the kind you scrape a cake batter bowl) press the spoonfuls down flat.  Then you can "connect the dots" and spread the cheese a little more evenly.

(6)  Cover with aluminum foil (unless you have an oven safe lid for your baking dish) and bake at 350° for 20 minutes.  Uncover; bake 10 minutes longer or until bubbly.  Let stand for 15 minutes before cutting.

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