October 12, 2006
Full of Beans: Black Bean Lasagna

This is it - the last day of our Full of Beans project. I still have a lot of black beans left from that big pot of beans that serve as the master ingredient for this project. We've made a spicy and hearty black bean soup, formed and fried some black bean cakes which we paired with a poblano sage cream sauce, created a tangy sandwich spread, and even made black bean ice cream from the savory legumes.

For our final recipe, I found a way to use a lot of beans in a recipe that will feed a hungry family and leave leftovers for lunch - lasagna. But we're doing a Latin-inspired lasagna with a chipotle infused tomato sauce, roasted poblanos and red peppers, Mexican cheeses, red onions, and instead of noodles - cut strips of flour tortillas.

To be honest, I used this dish to help clean out the refrigerator. We're now out of beans and Mexican melting cheeses and chipotle en adobo. Lasagnas are a great "heat sink" dish and this one sucked up all the beans I had left.

Use a knife to cut the lasagna after it cools and sets up a little. The tortilla noodle strips are soft, but still have more resistance than traditional pasta noodles. If you use a dull spatulas to turn out slices, you'll just make a mess and be very frustrated with this lasagna.

There are a lot of dishes I could have made with this pot of beans. I didn't make any bao, either savory or sweet. I didn't make a black bean pizza or a true black bean cake with eggs and flour. Black bean crusted fish starts with uncooked black beans, and there are certainly plenty of other recipes I could have undertaken. I'm sure you're probably thinking of some right now. Heck, we didn't even do refried black beans.

There are hundreds of creative uses for black beans. Why not make a big pot of beans this weekend and try some of the recipes I made here, and then try some of your own?

Black Bean Lasagna

1 quart "neutral" tomato sauce (i.e. nothing too deviant from plain marinara)
2 tablespoons chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
5-7 large (12") flour tortillas.
1 red onion, sliced thin on a mandoline

4-5 cups cooked black beans, seasoned with:
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste

4 cups shredded Mexican cheeses (chihuahua or a mix of monterey jack and cheddar or a mix)
1 cup chopped cilantro
2 roasted poblanos, cut into 2" long 1" wide strips
2 roasted red peppers, cut into 2" long, 1" wide strips.

Pretty much anything else you think it needs. This is a great "refrigerator cleaner" recipe to get rid of those good ingredients you want to use up.

Mix the tomato sauce and chopped chipotles in adobo together well. Taste and add more adobo if you think it needs it. You should end up with a spicy smoky base sauce. You may add other seasoning as well.

Stack the tortillas and cut them into 3" wide strips - about as wide as a lasagna noodle.

If you haven't done so already, season your black beans and stir well.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Spoon just enough sauce into the bottom of a 9x13" lasagna pan to cover the bottom very lightly. Lay 1/3 of the tortilla strips horizontally (the short way) across the bottom of the pan, not overlapping much, if at all.

Spread the onions over the tortillas. Spread about 1/3 of the cheese over the onions. Next, spread another layer of tortillas over the cheese just as you did on the bottom.

Spoon sauce over the tortillas. Spread the seasoned black beans over the tortillas. Next, add the cilantro and 1/3 of the cheese. Make a layer of the rest of the tortillas. Spoon the rest of the sauce over that. Add the peppers in a layer over the very top of the lasagna, and then sprinkle with the last 1/3 of the cheese. If you want to add a hot sauce over the top of all of it, you may.

So your final lasagna layers from top to bottom should be:

(hot sauce)
black beans

Bake for 40 minutes. Check to see if top is golden brown. If not, bake until it is - up to 10 minutes longer.

Let cool on counter for at least ten minutes before cutting. Use a sharp knife to cut. The tortillas are not as pliable as pasta though they will hae softened.

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at October 12, 2006 6:06 AM Print-friendly version

Okay, I thought I was tired of beans, but that sounds fantastic! I'm going to tuck that one away for a cold winter night when friends come round to watch (English) football...

Posted by Meg in Paris on October 12, 2006 at 10:15 AM

Sounds Heavenly!!!

Posted by Duane on October 12, 2006 at 4:23 PM

Sounds Heavenly!!!

Posted by Duane on October 12, 2006 at 4:27 PM

Congrats I had it and loved it!

Posted by Mario on June 8, 2007 at 6:07 PM

Bao? Bao! Oh, please do a recipe for bao!

Posted by Zabet on November 27, 2007 at 4:55 PM
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