With photos by Julia Laxer
While this is, obviously, not a traditional lasagna at all, it is a really fun crowd-pleaser full of bold flavours.
It uses seasonings and spices associated with tacos and Southwestern / Mexican cuisine.
2 lb. ground beef
2 - 250-300 ml. bottles of taco sauce
2 packets of taco seasoning (I used spicy taco seasoning)
2 - 400 ml. bottles of red salsa (You can use any brand you like as well as any spice level, but Salsa Verde does not work in this case)
Monterey Jack cheese (I like to use the Monterey Jack with jalapeno)
Hot chili powder (optional and see below)
Sliced green olives
Hard taco shells (you will likely need 10-12)
In a large saucepan brown the ground beef adding the taco seasoning and hot chili powder if you are using it to kick up the heat. If you are using it a tablespoon will add plenty of flavour and some spice while 2 or 3 will make it more and more intense.
When the beef has been browned add the taco sauce and stir in. Lower the heat and let simmer for around 10 minutes.
Meanwhile take your taco shells and break them in half. Use the half shells to line the bottom of a deep casserole dish.
Cover the shells with a layer of about half of the seasoned ground beef and then a layer of salsa.
Then cover with a layer of ricotta cheese evenly spread out.
Then cover with a layer of grated Monterey Jack.
Repeat with another layer of half shells, the second half of the ground beef and all the other layers.
Then top with a final layer of taco shells.
Top the final layer of half shells with some more salsa and a layer of grated Monterey Jack.
Place on the middle rack in an oven preheated to 350, uncovered, and bake for 35 minutes. Watch closely as depending on your oven the cheese could brown more or less quickly. Once it is melted and browned close to you liking if there is still time left in the baking you might want to cover with a lid or foil to prevent any burning or over-browning.
When the baking time is done, remove from oven and let stand to set for 10-15 minutes.
Before serving top with chopped green olives, some sliced jalapenos if you want, and a dollop or two of sour cream.
Serve as you would lasagna.
Goes great with cold beer or red wine and some extra hot sauce, sour cream and jalapenos on the side.