Sounds like a mixed metaphor, doesn’t it? I mean, lasagna is Italian, not Mexican. However, I decided to use what I had instead of rushing out to the store for a few ingredients. That’s one of the principles behind frugal cooking: making do.
That means, my family were guinea pigs. And I lived to tell about it. In fact, my husband loved it. It was a little too spicy for some of the kids, and one of them couldn’t get over his lasagna associations. If I had called it “Salsa Casserole,” he might have been fine. But, it was good.
I took my favorite lasagna recipe and tweaked it. Instead of mozzarella and parmesan, I used pepper jack and cheddar. And since I already had several cups of meat sauce (made with turkey) I used that instead of adding ground beef to prepared tomato sauce. I threw in some salsa to give it some kick and to increase my amount of sauce.
I love this recipe for its flexibility and simplicity. Here’s my adaptation, in all its glory.
2 cups pepper jack cheese, shredded
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
3 cups meat spaghetti sauce
1 cup salsa (I used Pace medium)
1 cup water
1 teaspoon Better than Bouillion chicken base
8 ounces cream cheese
6-8 lasagna noodles, uncooked
Preheat oven to 350F. In a mixing bowl, combine cheeses. In another bowl, combine meat sauce and salsa. In a medium saucepan bring water to boil. Whisk in chicken base. Add cream cheese and whisk until smooth. Set aside. Spray 9×13 baking pan with nonstick spray. Spread half the salsa-meat sauce in the pan. Sprinkle with 1 cup cheese. Place 3-4 lasagna noodles. Pour cream cheese mixture over noodles. Sprinkle with 1 cup cheese. Place remaining lasagna noodles. Spread the rest of the salsa-meat sauce over the noodles. Sprinkle on the remaining cheese. Bake for 45 minutes until brown and bubbly. Allow to rest 10 minutes before cutting.
This is a very make-ahead dish. Just don’t bake it. Once it’s assembled, cover and pop it into the refrigerator or wrap for freezing and freeze.
Here’s the price breakdown:
grating cheeses $1.50
salsa – free after coupon
meat sauce $1.50
chicken base $0.15
cream cheese $1
served with hawaiian rolls $1 and salad $1
Total cost $6.15 to feed seven people. (There were 1-2 servings of lasagna and some rolls left over.) For more budget meals, check out Erin’s $5 Dinner Challenge.