Mexican Lasagne

Potlucks are hard for me. I need more control...

I am a food snob. Potluck dinners push every culinary button I have. I enjoy the careful planning of a meal; I like putting together complimentary foods as an artist puts together colors on a palette; I love cooking the food. Potlucks sometimes make that difficult. For me. Remember, these are MY issues!

But, with Mark's help in teaching me to let go, I now enjoy getting into the spirit of the event and joining the fun. However, I still hope for something I would actually want to eat – so I make it myself.

Potlucks are about being relaxed, having fun, and sharing a good time. I have learned to let go of my culinary control issues and admit that, for the most part, they are NOT about the food.

There are potluck groups that ARE about the food. Our monthly FOB (Friends Of Barbara) dinners are amazing - all households involved are really good cooks - and usually they have a fun theme which must recur in each and every course: basil, red, pistachios, citrus, chocolate, and so on.

But for tonight’s Mexican-themed potluck, I made a heavy-duty casserole. For this gathering of 60-75 people, courses are assigned based on where your last name falls in the alphabet: if A-E, you bring an appetizer, and so on for main dish, salads, side dishes, and deserts.

The nice thing about this alphabetical arrangement AND having a two-last-name household is that I can decide whether we want to use my last name or Mark's. I chose Mark's this time around because I waned to try this recipe.

I went online and looked at all variety of tortilla casseroles. Some used tortilla chips à la chilaquiles, while others used soft tortillas. After reading about 20 different recipes, I had enough ideas to put together something fun and tasty!

My version is basically a Mexican lasagne using soft tortillas as the pasta, and for the filling, Mexican ingredients: beef, tomatoes, tomatillos, and beans, seasoned with cumin, oregano, ground chiles, and onions. Like an Italian lasagne, it is layered: pasta, filling, cheese, repeat.

So, by 5:30, the margaritas will be flowing, the music provided by Brazukas (two amazing Brazilian guitarists) will be wafting through the neighborhood, people will be gathering in festive attire, and long tables draped in bright colors will be topped with an amazing array of dishes.

¡Esta noche, se come muy bien!

~ David

Mexican Lasagne

2 pounds ground beef (85% lean)
1 onion, chopped
2 teaspoons medium hot chile powder
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted with chiles)
2 cups refried beans, or 1 14-ounce can refried beans
10 medium sized tomatillos, husked and roasted or grilled, chopped
½ teaspoon salt
5 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (I used goat feta)
1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
3 cups of shredded cheese (I use a Mexican blend)
about 14 corn tortillas

sour cream and avocados, for serving

In a skillet cook ground beef and onion until onion is clear and beef is browned.

Add chile powder, cumin and oregano, and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, refried beans, and tomatillos and cook over low heat for 10 minutes.

Coat the bottom of a 9-inch by13-inch baking pan with olive oil. Using 6 tortillas, cover the sides and bottom of the pan. To get the corners, cut or tear a 2-inch slit into four of the tortillas and overlap the cut areas to make a corner. You may need to cut/tear some of the tortillas to make them fit.

Cover with a third of the meat mixture, sprinkle with a third of the feta, a third of the cilantro and a third of the cheese blend. Repeat the layering, ending with the final third of the remaining meat mixture, feta, cilantro and cheese blend.

Bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes or until heated through. Serve with a salad on the side; pass the sour cream and avocado.

Serves 8-10.


• If you can't get tomatillos, use an additional can of diced tomatoes.
• To make this vegetarian, substitute mushrooms for the meat.


  1. A few things: I want to be living in your neighbourhood when this potlucks happen (regardless of the food, I´m going for the margaritas and the music!); I really really really want a piece of this lasagna; I´m making a ton of enchiladas to use the ton of tortillas I still have but will just HAVE to make this recipe afterwards because I will still have a ton of remaining tortillas; and boy, are you taking good advantage of your new lens and collage options!
    That´s it for today, have an awesome weekend both of you!

  2. This looks amazing! I tried to make an enchilada casserole this week, by rolling the tortillas... next time I am totally just layering them. Great idea and sooo much easier!!! :-)

  3. Paula - the potlucks are a lot of fun in our neighborhood, and the music was the best! Have fun making the lasagne - it is a great starter recipe with lots of possibilities for variations! And, yes, I a, having a great time with the new lens!

    Sarah - i considered rolling them enchilada-style, but just didn't have the time. Thus, the birth of this Mexican lasagne! As I said to Paula, lots of room here foro variations!

  4. Love this... Need to try it sometime.. We made a breakfast mexican lasagna a while back. Unbelievable!

  5. Haha! David, I share your pain!!! I hate potlucks and usually feel completely unenthusiastic about going to them. The last one I went to was Indian-themed with quite a few lazy contributors. One man brought a packet of cookies and a woman brought sliced luncheon meat on lettuce... somehow this was supposed to qualify as a salad. I get rather stupidly annoyed about stuff like that... by the end of the night I just wished I had stayed at home to eat my contribution on my own! Sigh. Anyway, you're right, these are OUR issues and don't at all detract from the lovely community spirit of pot luck events. Love the idea of this Mexican lasagne. It both looks and sounds delicious... a very worthy potluck contribution! The Friends of Barbara events also sound lovely. Wish I lived closer so I could join (never thought I'd say that about a potluck!)!

  6. Looks delish and GF! I wonder about the feta v. quest blanco. Reason? Either way, cheese is my friend :) Can't wait to try this!

  7. Oh YUM!!! I love pot lucks because there is always a place for the cooks and non-cooks: cooks=food, non-cooks=booze. Perfect combo! I'm absolutely trying this one David - especially since I'll be moving to westerly climes and need to brush up on my mexican repertoire (latin I have down, mexican I'm a neophyte!) Buen provencho

  8. Kate Maguire JensenMay 19, 2013 at 9:28 AM

    Yum. Most recipes for enchiladas suggest dipping the corn tortillas in hot oil before assembling. So much more work and added calories. Thanks for the innovation.

  9. Just back from Italy where the food is either good or great. We loved that even when you stop for gas at the Autogrill you can get fab coffee. But, I am looking forward to branching out from eating so much pasta. Your lasagna recipe looks great and we will definitely try it. Thanks!

  10. Mr. & Mrs. P - thanks - I have to stop by your Facebook page - I have been remiss in visiting!

    Laura - our FOB dinners would be JUST your type of potluck! But, isn't it fun having control issues about food? Everybody wants to eat what we bring! :)

    Gaelen - I thought of you and another friend, Sophia, when I posted this. Good GF party food is hard to find! Oh, and I used the goat feta because it is local and what I had on hand. Queso blanco would be good, too!

    Karin - remember this is "fauxican" food. For the real thing, we have to have a chat/ I have some great recipes! I like your theory about potlucks - booze is always welcome!

    Kate - I agree - those "fry the tortilla first" recipes taste amazing, but my stomach sometimes isn't happy!

    Oh, Kirsten - I can't wait to see evidence of your Lucca adventures on your blog (readers: she has a beautiful gardening site - definitely you should check it out!). While this is a departure from too much pasta, it isn't exactly slimming!

    Colette - that is pretty much the deal: easy and delicious! :)

  11. Other than the occasional chilli or slow-cooked Mexican pork shoulder, I rarely cook up Mexican at home. I like your lasagne concept here. Something I may have to implement when I next make a chilli!

  12. John - Your chili would most likely make the most perfect filling for ANYthing!

  13. Like John, I hardly cook Mexican food (though it is VERY popular here in Sydney at the moment). I think that this would be a perfect choice for a pot luck and something I really want to try soon.

  14. Anna - I never cooked Mexican before moving here to the Southwest. Now is seems like a natural "go-to" cuisine. Maybe that will happen for you in Sydney!

  15. I have the similar potluck issues. ;-)
    These ingredients are beautiful and I love dishes that involve layers upon layers of flavors.

  16. Valentina - I am glad I am not alone in the potluck arena! :)

  17. How funny - I feel exactly the same way about potlucks! I always try to make something wonderful which sits on the table between buckets of fried chicken and store-bought cookies...

    All of that aside, I totally plan to try your recipe! It looks amazing.

  18. Thank you, Susan! I am so glad to have all this validation. Wish we all lived closer so WE could have a potluck of real food!

  19. Please invite us to this pot luck that may be emerging among your cool readers! I often eat before I go to PLs, saving room only for what I brought...did I really just write that?!

    The Mexican lasagne looks really good. I think flour tortillas would work, too, don't you? (I happen to have some.)

    Muchas Gracias!

  20. This looks amazing and I thought I was the only one who felt that way about the potlucks! Also, I am totally paranoid about cleanliness in food preparation, and I wonder if others are the same in preparing their food (hopefully this doesn't make me a horrible person!).

  21. Susan - I think (judging from who has made these comments) that we would have one heck of a kick-ass potluck! I wish I could get all these people together on one room. I think you could definitely use flour tortillas - let me know if you do and how it went.

    Ahu - I didn't even bring up my issue with other people's cleanliness in the kitchen, but now that you have... bring it on! :) And, no, you aren't a horrible person. Just particular. Like me. And several other people above...

  22. This looks amazing! You always have the most amazing photos. Talk about a food journey. Uuummm...we need to get these neighborhood potlucks going! They sound like a lot of fun. Lots of times I make enchiladas for the "big casserole like meals" because they are simple, quick, and can feed an army.

  23. Thanks, Sarah! We are lucky to have good neighborhood parties - maybe you need to start the trend?


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