My friend, Billy, is, in his own words, ‘freaked out’ by cheese. He’s not allergic, it just ‘freaks’ him out. I find this particularly odd because of my intense love for cheese. All cheese. Even stinky cheese, soft cheese, hard cheese, moldy cheese. I love cheese. I even have a place in my heart for Kraft American Cheese Slices – that would be atop a greasy beach burger. You know, the ones made on the flat top griddle at the beachside or poolside snack stand by the guy you had a crush on in high school?
So, when this past weekend we decided to make Mexican Lasagna and Billy told me we could make the lasagna, but that he didn’t eat cheese, I was a bit taken aback. Uhm, first of all, he dissed my bff, cheese. Secondly, lasagna is like layers of meat and cheese.
And, what about the rest of us cheese-eating people who would be at the dinner? Why should we suffer and sacrifice just because one extremely fit, hot, gay guy says ‘no’ to cheese?
Luckily, I’ve come face to face with a picky eater or two in the past. One of my friends is an occasional vegetarian. Another eats no corn – you don’t want to know. My mother avoids all garlic. So, we formulated a plan that would satisfy everyone and made:
Customized Mexican Lasagna serves 6 (with a cheese-free Billy-Zone)
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees
1. In a large skillet or saute pan, heat 2 TBSP of Olive Oil and saute one whole yellow onion, diced.
2. Once the onion is fragrant and slightly translucent, add 1 – 1 1/2lbs each of Ground Dark Meat Turkey and Ground Breast Meat Turkey (Billy doesn’t eat red meat either) and brown the meat. Once browned add salt and pepper to taste and 2 TBSP of chopped, fresh parsley and stir in.
3. While the turkey is browning, heat 1 small can of Enchilada Sauce in a small skillet over medium heat. You can make your own, but the nice people at Old El Paso will do it for you:
4. Once the enchilada sauce is gently simmering but not boiling, add a tortilla one at a time and let soak in the warm sauce for about 1 minute. (We used corn tortillas…Billy doesn’t eat flour)
5. Layer the bottom of a lasagna pan with the soaked tortillas. You will need 6 per layer for a total of 18 needed. This will depend upon the size of the tortillas and the size of your lasagna pan.
6. Add a layer of 1/2 of the cooked ground turkey, onion, parsley
7. On top of the turkey, add 1/2 – 3/4 cup of a combo of shredded Cheddar and Jack Cheese. BUT, Keep an area free of cheese for Billy – see Cheese-Free Zone on the Left of the Pan.
8. Repeat …On top of the second layer of turkey and cheese, add a final layer of Enchilada Sauce Soaked Tortillas and top with the remaining shredded cheese
9. Cover with tin foil and bake for :30 mins. Remove tin foil and bake for an additional :10 mins.
10. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for :10 mins before serving
We served the Mexican Lasagna with sides of homemade spicy queso and homemade guacamole. Everyone seemed happy – especially, Billy, who ate his entire cheese-free zone.
I don’t really understand how people can live without cheese, but I cherish the differences like these that make life, and cooking more interesting. No cheese? No meat? No garlic? No corn…No problem.