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Enchilada Lasagna

August 3, 2010

Let’s talk for a minute about Italian food.

Italian is the one regional cuisine that “everybody likes”. Because who doesn’t like mountains of pasta, scoops of gelato, fresh mozzarella and homemade tomato sauce? Everyone likes it. Except for me.

*I would like to note here that I have never been to Italy, and I presume that I would be obsessed with Italian food the moment I said “Buon giorno“. But what I talk about here is the American version of Italian I have been brought up with.

Being gluten free is a big reason for me to reach over and turn the steering wheel in the opposite direction from flags waving red, green, and white, but there is so much more. For instance, I never really liked pasta in the first place. In general it just takes the shape of whatever sauce is put on it. And when that is often an overbearing tomato, which scorches down your throat screaming “I’m a tomato and don’t you forget it!”, or a sauce so creamy you feel like you just drank a gallon of whole milk in one sitting, its just a turn off. Even when I have the most amazing sauce that ever topped a mountain of pasta (pesto, anyone?!) I would much rather eat it out of a bowl with a spoon.

Another reason I would choose Thai, Indian, or even good old bar food over Italian is I think it all tastes the same. Something breaded with tomato sauce and cheese. Something rolled with parma ham and topped with cheese and sauce. Pasta with sauce. Lemon, cream, or tomato. I can see the appeal initially (the “cheese” gets me every time) but in all honesty, I enjoy variety of flavor so much that I don’t often think to head to the nearest Italian eatery. Just don’t tell anyone who lives in the North End.

However, I do think Italians have some good ideas. Lasagna being one of them. Layering protein, carbs, and vegetables creates complete meal in just once slice, and I’m not one to mind a good bechamel sauce. But how to I combat the pasta and that stereotypical meat and tomato flavor that steers me away in the first place? When I saw this recipe for Enchilada Lasagna from How Sweet It Is, I knew I had found the answer. A Mexican inspired “lasagna” it had all the right ideas with a brand new flavor. Plus, lack of butter and heavy cream made this healthier for both my eyes and my stomach.

Enchilada Lasagna (adapted from How Sweet It Is)

8 corn tortillas

3 chicken boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (about 10 oz)

1 teaspoon cumin

pinch of cayenne pepper

3/4 cup black beans

1/2 red pepper, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 sweet onion, chopped

1 10-oz can enchilada sauce

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375.

Heat skillet on medium heat and add onions and peppers. Saute until soft. Add chicken, cumin and cayenne, 1/2 the can of enchilada sauce, the black beans and 1/2 cup of cheese. Stir until warm and combined.

Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray and layer 2 tortillas down. Top with filling, and repeat until tortillas are gone. Top with remaining cup of cheese and drizzle the rest of the enchilada sauce on top.

Bake for 20 minutes.

The perfect combination of two of my favorite things: layered dishes and Mexican food. Oh, and don’t forget the cheese.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. August 3, 2010 10:04 pm

    you mean the north end? 🙂 i’ve got a new appreciation for fresh pasta after visiting… now i just need to make it myself! this sounds awesome though, and what a great one-dish meal!

  2. August 4, 2010 4:51 am

    My boyfriend would love you for this recipe. Seriously, he would leave me for you.

  3. August 4, 2010 7:30 am

    I don’t like Italian food and I don’t like tomato sauce either! So you are not alone. 🙂 I am glad you liked this!

  4. August 4, 2010 8:03 am

    *Gasp*
    I might have cried a bit.

    If it makes you feel better, though, most Italian food from restaurants is unlike anything my nonna makes at home. …but then again, we’re from Northern Italy and a lot of restaurants focus on central or Southern cuisine.

    I challenge you to pick up Molto Italiano by Mario Batali, and cook anything in that book. The recipes are authentic and amazing!

  5. August 4, 2010 2:38 pm

    I will have you know that all of my grad school friends that are from India HATE Italian food and find it way too bland.
    I am not a big fan of it. I like some it but sometimes I feel like ANYTHING made with butter and cream is going to taste good so it’s not very creative. But I have to say, I haven’t met an Italian wine I didn’t like.

  6. August 4, 2010 8:34 pm

    I’m so with you. I can’t stand Italian food. Probably because of all the butter, cheese, and cream that I can’t eat. And I agree pasta with sauce just doesn’t do it for me.

  7. August 4, 2010 8:47 pm

    You definitely need to try FRESH homemade pasta if you think it all tastes the same (and is just a vehicle for sauce). OK, maybe not since you’re gluten-free, but if you weren’t! I love Italian food, but agree it CAN all be the same at some restaurants… But it’s not supposed to be like that 🙂

    Anyway, this looks awesome too! I’m not a huge lasagna person, but I’d gobble this down!

  8. August 5, 2010 8:51 pm

    Do I need to tell you again we are soulmates? Because it’s so true. I could have written this out! We should go out to eat soon, anything but Italian 🙂

  9. August 7, 2010 8:11 pm

    We usually don’t go to Italian restaurants because I feel like I can make most Italian dishes at home pretty well, but Giacomo’s is worth a stop in the North End- they have a lot of seafood inspired dishes that are amazing and so worth the wait!

    These little stacks look super tasty!

  10. August 9, 2010 8:21 am

    I didn’t like the food when I went to Italy. I think I’m too used to “fusion” Italian dishes =P

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