Mexican Chicken Lasagna

Cooks come in all shapes and sizes and with every degree of proficiency. I have taught cooking to people who love to cook and those who prefer to just stare at their kitchen. After one cooking demo I gave recently, a woman came up to me and said, "You have encouraged me to go home and cook. But first I have to take my sweaters out of the oven." 

Whether you like to get in and out of the kitchen as quickly as possible, or enjoy taking your time cooking fancy meals, this recipe will please all of you. That's because it tastes like you spent all day in the kitchen, and even great chefs appreciate easy, fast recipes from time to time. 

This lasagna couldn't be simpler.  There is absolutely no pre-cooking required--not of the sauce or the noodles. For it to work, you need to use uncooked packaged lasagna noodles, not the fresh ones. The dried uncooked noodles absorb all the liquid and become tender while they bake. If you are a vegetarian, you can leave out the chicken; you might want to add cooked eggplant or sliced zucchini. You might also want to know that taco seasoning is now sold without any additives or preservatives. Yay!

The lasagna is terrific for family dinners, casual entertaining, teen parties, pot lucks and barbecues. It also freezes well. When I make it for my husband, Karl, and me for dinner, I cut one recipe into quarters, serve one and freeze the other three. Each portion makes a wonderful entree for 2 to 3 people. 

No matter what kind of cook you are or aren't, head for the kitchen, start prepping and prepare for the praise. 

Mexican Chicken Lasanga

Tomato-Salsa Sauce
½ medium onion, cut into quarters
1 can ( 1 lb.  12 oz.) whole tomatoes with juice
½ cup jarred tomato salsa
1 package (1.25 oz.) taco seasoning mix
1 can (16 oz. ) black beans, rinsed and drained

Ricotta Cheese Layer
1 large egg
1 cup whole or skim milk ricotta
2 cloves garlic, minced

10 uncooked packaged lasagna noodles
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, (about 1 pound), cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 can (4 oz.) whole green chilies, cut into thin strips
1½ cups (about 6 oz.) shredded Mexican cheese blend 

  1.  To make sauce:  In a food processor with the metal blade, chop onion.  Add tomatoes with the juice, salsa and taco seasoning and pulse until tomatoes are in small pieces, 3 or 4 times. Do not puree; you want it chunky. Remove to a medium bowl and stir in beans.
  2. To make ricotta layer:  In a small bowl with a fork, break up egg.  Stir in ricotta and garlic.
  3. To assemble:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 13-inch casserole.  Spread 1 cup sauce over the bottom; it will barely cover.  Top with 5 noodles, overlapping slightly, breaking them to fit. Sprinkle with half the chicken, half the chilies and 2 cups sauce.   Spoon ricotta cheese mixture over and spread lightly.  Top with half the shredded cheese, remaining noodles, chicken, chilies, sauce and cheese.
  4. To bake:   Bake at 350 degrees uncovered for 40 minutes or until noodles are tender when pierced with a sharp knife.   Cool at least 20 minutes before serving.  The casserole will stay warm for up to an hour and can be reheated, if desired.  (Lasagna may be refrigerated overnight or frozen up to 2 weeks.  Bring to room temperature and reheat covered at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or in a microwave until heated through.)

Makes 10 servings.

For a video of me making this lasagna, click here. (it is in the videos on my website.)

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