I’ve been making a lot more simple meals lately (I promise to keep sharing the dressing recipes!), so by the complexity of this dish, you probably can guess that I made this for guests. Technically, my guests ate a Mexican Tortilla Lasagna and I made myself a Mexican Zucchini Lasagna!
The only difference between the two were the noodles. Instead of lasagna pasta, the tortilla lasagna used 9″ whole wheat flour tortillas and my version used zucchini instead of noodles.
Inspired by Susan, this is actually a relatively simple dish to make if you already have refried beans and enchilada sauce. I didn’t. So I turned to Radiant Health, Inner Wealth for a simple unfried refried bean recipe and Veganomicon for an enchilada sauce.
Basically, you create layers with refried beans, a chili-flavoured bell pepper and onion mixture, black beans, and salsa each separated by zucchini slices. Because I wasn’t using tortillas, to make sure my lasagna wasn’t a soupy mess, I lightly salted the zucchini and baked them for a few minutes to dry them out. As with most multi-component recipes, each part is as important as the next. Pick a flavourful salsa. Use a zippy chili powder. Savour the zesty refried beans, lime-spiked in all their glory. Repeat the layers a few times, then smother it in enchilada sauce. I found the original enchilada sauce recipe way too spicy for me (3 roasted green chiles, oh my!), so I ended up diluting it with more tomatoes and almond milk. Combined with the rest of the components, it worked well to balance the flavours.
I actually wasn’t even sure I would share this recipe… it was hard to keep photogenic when fresh. Once chilled as leftovers, it was easier to cut out a slice without it capsizing. Regardless, it still tasted good!
Mexican Zucchini Lasagna
Adapted from Fat Free Vegan
1 lb zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise (short gray zucchini work well for the loaf pans)
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 tsp Aleppo chili, or to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
1 tsp chili powder, divided
1/2 tsp cumin, divided
3 cups fatfree refried beans (see recipe below)
2 cups chunky tomato-based salsa (like this homemade one or this store-bought one)
3 cups black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups enchilada sauce (see recipe below)
1/4 cup sliced black olives
1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Make the refried beans and enchilada sauce, if you haven’t already (recipes below).
2. On 2 silpat-lined baking trays, place zucchini slices in a single layer and sprinkle with salt. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until slightly dried but not mushy. Set aside to cool, until you are able to handle.
3. In a non-stick pan with a tbsp of water, sauté the peppers, garlic, and onion for about 3 minutes, or until softened. Stir in the chili powder and cumin. Set aside.
4. Spray two 9″ loaf pans with oil. Place a layer of zucchini to cover the bottom of the pans.
5. Spread half of the refried beans evenly over the zucchini – this will take some patience! Cover the refried beans with half of the pepper-onion mixture, half of the salsa and half of the black beans.
6. Add another layer of zucchini and repeat the layers of the other ingredients. Cover with a final layer of zucchini, pour the enchilada sauce over the top, and sprinkle with black olives.
7. Cover and bake for about 30 minutes or until hot throughout. It will be easier to cut if you allow it to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.
Zesty Unfried Refried Beans
Adapted from Radiant Health, Inner Wealth
3 cups cooked pinto beans, rinsed and drained (from 1 cup dried)
1 tsp garlic granules
1 tsp onion granules
1 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp smoked paprika
3 tbsp lime juice (from 1 lime)
3 tbsp water
1. Blend all ingredients in a food processor. Store in refrigerator.
Enchilada Chile Sauce
Adapted from Veganomicon
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 large green chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped coarsely
1/2 tsp Aleppo chili flakes, or to taste
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp Mexican oregano (or oregano)
28-oz can tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon agave (or sugar)
salt, to taste
1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, saute the onions in oil for 4 to 7 minutes, until softened. Add the remaining sauce ingredients, bring to a simmer and remove from the heat. Puree with a blender until the mixture is smooth.
This will make way more sauce than you need, so perhaps only make half a recipe if you don’t want leftovers.