Today we celebrate 5 de Mayo… which many US people think it’s the celebration of the Mexican Independence and of great consequence to Mexicans, but it’s not so… I believe 5 de Mayo it’s a nice holiday to them but not nearly as important as the celebration of their Independence, celebrated on September 16. I know… I moved to Chicago around that time and it was impressive the amount of Mexicans with huge flags riding on their cars up and down the main avenues. However, on 5 de Mayo, not nearly enough…
I think it’s just easier in English to say “5 de Mayo” than to say “16 de Septiembre”… you know, that issue with the rolling r’s. So if the US wants to celebrate Mexican culture, let them do it at the beginning of the Spring/Summer season… it’s more festive anyhow.
Jumping on the bandwagon myself, I decided to treat my friend AnnieMariel to lunch the other day with a Mexican-inspired lunch. The theme had dual-purpose – to celebrate the upcoming 5 de Mayo and to support our Mexican friends whose been getting such a bad rap lately with all this “swine flu” news. They’ve been hurting health wise and they will continue to hurt due to decreases in travel to Mexico. It’s just unfortunate that the level of poverty over there just prevents people to seek medical health as easily or rapidly as we do here in the US and probably that’s part of the increased severity of the cases there.
Both AnnieMariel and I had trips planned to Mexico that were abruptly cancelled or postponed. So we want to support them symbolically with our lunch…
About 8 corn tortillas 4 tomatillos, washed well and quartered 1 medium onion, chopped into large pieces 6 garlic cloves The Juice of 1 lemon/lime ¼ cup textured soy protein, re-hydrated in about 1 cup of water 2 tbs sofrito 1 vegetable bouillon cube, divided in half ¼ cup red-wine vinegar ¼ tsp Herbamare 1 cup Italian-blend grated cheese ½ cup Parmesan Cheese ½ cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted Olive Oil Salt and pepper to taste Canola Oil Spray
This is a simple recipe, but we need to take care of a few steps before we assemble.
- First you need to re-hydrate the textured soy protein. Place the soy protein in a medium bowl or measuring cup and fill it with water and wait for it about 30 minutes to re-hydrate well.
For the tomatillo salsa…
- In a pyrex pan, place the tomatillos, onion and garlic. Drizzle a bit of olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Mix them all together to make sure everything is well-coated with the oil. Roast in a 350F oven for about 30 minutes, or until you see the onions and tomatillo getting caramelized on top.
- Wait a few minutes until the tomatillos/onion mixture cools down a bit. Transfer the contents of the pyrex to the bowl of a food processor. Add the juice of a green lemon and pulse a few times to make a thick sauce. Set aside.
While the tomatillos are roasting in the oven, we can make the soy picadillo… but this soy picadillo is dryer than the versions I have showed you before…
- In a small skillet over medium heat, drizzle about 1 tbs of olive oil, add ½ of the vegetable bouillon cube and the sofrito. Cook for a few minutes and add the soy protein after you’ve squeezed out as much water as you can from it. Mix it all together to combine. I want to add some moisture to help it cook along… so I add the vinegar at this point. Season it with a bit of pepper and Herbamare.
- Cook over medium-low heat until the soy looks cooked, about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Set aside too.
- In a medium tall-sided skillet, warm up about ½- ¾ cup of water with the other ½ vegetable bouillon cube to make a vegetable “broth”. Add about ¼ cup of the tomatillo salsa to this broth and whisk well to combine.
- In a medium-sized glass dish sprayed with canola oil spray we’ll start layering the lasagna…
- Take the tortillas and cut in half 4 of them. This will help you layer them as evenly as possible in the glass dish.
- Take about 1/4 cup of the thinned tomatillo salsa and place it at the bottom of the dish. Now dip in the thinned tomatillo salsa one whole tortilla and 2 halves. Place them on the bottom of the dish.
- Now spread intact tomatillo salsa on top of the tortillas to create a layer and sprinkle a third of the cooked soy picadillo.
- Sprinkle parmesan cheese, a layer of the grated Italian cheeses and sprinkle a third of the pepitas.
- Now we start all over again, starting with the tortillas, creating 3 layers and finishing off with wet tortillas covered with parmesan cheese, Italian blend cheese and pepitas.
- Place in a 350F oven for about 30 minutes until the cheese on top is golden brown.
I always turn off the heat in the oven and leave it there for a few minutes until the lasagna settles a bit.
It takes a few steps, but your hard work will be rewarded… it tastes very Mexican because of the corn tortillas, but the tomatillo salsa gives it a nice tang, different than a regular tomato-based sauce.
Hope you enjoyed it as much as we did… and ¡¡VIVA MEXICO LINDO Y QUERIDO!!