Vegetarian Mexican Lasagna

Mexican meets comfort meets health food – are there many better culinary combinations than that? I have yet to be convinced otherwise. And clearly, because I managed to find a Thirty Minute Thursday post that didn’t summon the flavors of Mexican cuisine, I had to make up for it by telling you about one that does, today.

This Mexican Lasagna is the result of leftover refried beans, cilantro, and avocado from the various other Mexican-inspired meals (mostly from Rachael Ray) that I have been enjoying recently. I chose to turn it into a lasagna because, quite simply, that’s what I have in my pantry. As the semester winds down and I prepare to move back home, I’m making a concerted effort to get creative with the food I already have in stock rather than spending boatloads at the grocery store and keeping a full kitchen. I pretty much refresh my fresh produce and yogurts each week (and make sure I always have a backup jar of peanut butter on hand for emergencies, naturally), and otherwise make due with what I have. I’ve really enjoyed the challenge, and there’s something oddly satisfying about one by one using up all of those odds-and-ends ingredients I’ve collected over the course of the year.

But back to this lasagna – this tasty, filling, spicy, comforting lasagna. Arguably the best part about this is how downright easy it is, too. When I think of lasagna, I often feel discouraged – it always seems to be one of those labor of love dishes that is best reserved for a leisurely day spent in the kitchen rather than a harried weeknight dinner fix. In that vein, this is not your typical lasagna. Also, because I made it as a single serving, the layering of the noodles got a little bit creative to fit the personal-sized baking dish that I used. If you want to scale it up for a full-size meal, simply layer the noodles as you would a traditional lasagna (and not all “fakockta-ed”  as I did).

Two Years Ago: Lamingtons

Mexican Lasagna
This personal lasagna is the solution to all of your stress woes: healthful nutrients to keep you going, ease of preparation to make dinner a reality in a minimal amount of time, and all of the bliss that more traditional comfort foods have to offer.

Yield: 1 serving
Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

The Ingredients
2 whole grain lasagna noodles
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetarian refried beans
¼ onion, diced
¼ bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoons cheese
¼ avocado, chopped
cilantro, to taste

The Method
Place a large (or at least deep) pot of water to boil. Add the lasagna noodles and cook until tender, 10 minutes. While you wait, prepare the vegetables and grease a loaf pan (glass preferably).

Lay 1 cooked lasagna noodle along the bottom of the loaf pan and drape the extra over the edge. Top with 2 tablespoons of beans, ⅓ of the pepper, ⅓ of the onion, ⅓ of the avocado, 2 teaspoons of cheese and a small pinch of cilantro. Place the next noodle over the cilantro and drape the extra over the other side of the container. Repeat the layers. Fold the first noodle over the toppings. Repeat the layers. Fold the second noodle over the toppings and top with any leftover cheese. Cover loosely and bake in a toaster oven at 350° Fahrenheit for approximately 15 minutes.1 Optionally, remove the foil for the final 5 minutes of baking to brown the cheese a little.

1You can certainly bake this in a conventional oven – just make sure to preheat it.

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