Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Back to school

And back to the blog. Sitting down at the computer to write seemed like such a waste of a beautiful summer day, which is all the explanation I shall offer for my two-month hiatus. Summer is too short in northern Michigan to not feel cheated by every moment spent online. Today the skies are filled with gloom, reminding me that November awaits, but I will try to be of good cheer.

September is a busy month for families. My daughter started high school last week after two years of home school (yes, I miss her!) and my senior son is overwhelmed with fall sports, marching band and college applications. On most days, the weather is still pleasant and we're wanting to spend every dwindling spare moment enjoying it. So who wants to cook? Not I.

Yet in one of nature's cruelest ironies, September is the busiest harvest month and a bounty of good food grown in northern Michigan is filling our farmer's markets. Late summer and fall crops are mingling in abundance -- gorgeous heirloom tomatoes of various colors, early apples, summer peppers and chiles, forest mushrooms, sweet peaches, tender greens. The possibilities are tantalizing, so I buy and cook. But I try to be efficient so that I won't have to spend too much of the afternoon in the kitchen.

Here's an easy casserole I came up with one Sunday afternoon to use up some zucchini:

Mexican "Lasagna" (before local tomatoes ripened)
Mexican "Lasagna"

1 lb. ground beef
2 cloves garlic, diced or crushed
1 medium or large onion, diced
1 jalapeno or other pepper, finely diced
2 c. corn
1 or 2 zucchini, sliced, shredded or diced
1 14 oz can enchilada sauce
1 14 oz can black beans
Hot sauce to taste (optional)
2-3 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 package sprouted corn tortillas
1 or 2 ripe tomatoes (optional)

In a large saute pan, brown the ground beef, then add the garlic, onion and pepper and cook until soft. Add the zucchini and corn and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes. Stir in the enchilada sauce and black beans and taste for seasoning, adding salt to taste. At this point, you can add some heat, if desired, with whatever you have available. I used a little leftover chipotle in adobo sauce, but chili powder or hot sauce would also work.

In the bottom of a casserole dish (9x13), arrange about 1/3 of the tortillas, topped with about 1/3 of the meat sauce from the pan and 1/3 of the cheese. Repeat the layers twice. Finally, slice some tomatoes and arrange across the the top. Bake at 350F for about 25-30 minutes.

This recipe begs for improvisation. Feel free to substitute any ingredient! I also made a vegetarian version with all black beans (about 3 cups, cooked) and it was as delicious as the meat one. That night I had some green beans, so I cut them into short bits and used instead of corn.


1 comment:

  1. That looks good, Sharon. I hope all is going well with everyone back at school.