Another lovely neighbor of mine is Fi, who had a Christmas party on Saturday night that I was really looking forward to. Not least of all because she had decided that she was going to do a pot luck, and there was going to be a random assortment of foods that I could hover around a table and eat many portions of. Excellent. I had promised a lasagne as my contribution, but when I started to think about it I got a bit twitchy at the thoughts of doing something that, although delicious, seemed a little, well, staid. Never able to keep anything simple or leave anything alone, I went searching for a fitting alternative and hit the jackpot among the pages of, guess which book - yes, Nigella's Kitchen. The deliciously squidgy and spicy-looking Mexican Tortilla Lasagne jumped right out at me.
I had to improvise a little here and there. For starters, I didn't have any garlic oil, so I just popped garlic in the pan first. I've seen garlic oil in a few recipes recently, so I actually went to the lengths of going to Tesco to buy it the next day. I'm very very much anti-Tesco, but every now and then if I'm really really stuck my local store in Dolphin's Barn (though it pains me to admit it) is quite handy.
Look at the bright crunchy loveliness - peppers and chillies and onions, oh my!
Coriander is the only herb whose stalks I ever see being used in a dish. I'm not entirely sure what this adds to be very very honest, though I dutifully obey nonetheless. The stalks surely can't be a patch on the lovely fragrant leaves though.
And then, enveloped in tomatoes, it all bubbled away while I got the bean layer together.
Now, Nigella specified black beans for the bean layer, but there were none to be found, so I substituted them with refried beans, as I felt that they were in keeping with the overall squishy and gunky vibe of the dish. Anyone who is familiar with refried beans will know that they are actually a rather unappetising sight, and could be compared to some thoroughly unappetising substances, so I decided against including a pic of that particular element of proceedings, which I will gloss over to move on to the guacamole. Oh the creamy heat of guacamole, I love making it because it is such a rewarding substance - so easy to throw together, and (as with hummus and pesto) infinitely tastier than the shop-bought kind. Unless, that is, you get an evil unyielding weapon of an avocado. Thankfully I had two very cooperative avocados for my guac, and I enjoyed a very therapeutic mashing session as I mushed together all of the vibrant green ingredients.
Let the layering begin. Since tortillas were being used in the way that you would use pasta in regular lasagne, this called for a round dish, and I pulled out one of those wonderful insidey-outy silicon pie dishes that make life in the kitchen considerably easier. Salsa on the bottom.
Brace yourself, it's the bean layer, mixed with sweetcorn and cheese. You've been warned!
Hastily disguised with a little more salsa, then some tortillas.
And it all ended up looking like a very inviting Tex Mex pizza-type ensemble.
I brought it chez the hostess to cook, and found myself too caught up in enjoying the company of the very lovely guests to do my crazy whip-out-the-camera-nobody-is-allowed-to-eat-until-I-take-a-photo routine. Instead, I went back the next day, when the cold leftovers made for a very pleasing brunch.
As a, literally, sweet bonus, there was also a delicious selection of leftover desserts, and so my contribution to the clean-up operation was the very considerate consumption of a slice of this rather fine cheesecake. My, what a diligent and dutiful guest I am.