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Black Bean Lasagna

September 13, 1999
Web posted at: 4:34 p.m. EDT (2034 GMT)

From Help! My Apartment Has a Dining Room
Kevin and Nancy Mills (Houghton Mifflin Books)

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 red or green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro sprigs (about 20)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil + 1 teaspoon for boiling noodles and more for greasing pan
  • 2 16-ounce cans black beans
  • 1 29-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 12 lasagna noodles
  • 1 16-ounce container cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup sour cream

Take the cream cheese out of the refrigerator so that it will begin to soften.

If you're not using precooked noodles, fill a large pot with water, cover and begin heating over high heat. (You can speed up the process by using hot water to start with.) While you're waiting for the water to come to a boil (5 to 10 minutes), start making the sauce.

Peel the onion and cut it into 1/2-inch pieces. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Wash the bell pepper and cut it into 1/2-inch pieces. Wash the cilantro sprigs and pat them dry between paper towels. Cut off and discard the stems and cut the leafy parts into 1/2-inch pieces.

Heat the 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, bell pepper and cilantro and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened. While the vegetables are cooking, drain the beans, discarding the liquid, and rinse them in a strainer or colander under cold running water.

Add half the beans to the onion mixture. Mash the other half with a fork and add them to the mixture. Add the tomato sauce and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened. Remove from the heat and set aside.

When the water comes to a boil, add the 1 teaspoon of oil. Add the lasagna noodles one at a time, pushing them gently into the water until they are fully submerged. Set the timer for 12 minutes. Stir occasionally to keep them from sticking together. When the timer rings, taste a corner of a noodle to see whether it's done. If it's a little too chewy, cook for another minute. Drain the noodles in a colander in the sink, running cold water over them to stop the cooking. Separate any that have stuck together and set aside.

Mix the cream cheese, cottage cheese and sour cream in a large bowl and set aside.

If you plan to bake the lasagna now, begin heating the oven to 350 degrees.

Rub the bottom and sides of an 8-X-12-inch or 9-X-13-inch baking pan with oil. Cover the bottom of the pan with 4 lasagna noodles, overlapping them slightly. Cover the noodles with one-third of the bean sauce, spreading it evenly, then cover the bean mixture with one-third of the cheese mixture. Add another layer of 4 noddles, another one-third of the bean sauce and another one-third of the cheese mixture. Then add the remaining 4 noddles, bean sauce and cheese mixture.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and seal it tightly around the edges. At this stage, you can refrigerate the lasagna and cook it the next day.

Bake the lasagna, covered, for 40 or 45 minutes (1 hour and 10 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes if it is coming straight from the refrigerator), or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is browned. Serve immediately, or reduce the oven temperature to 20 0 degrees and keep warm for up to 1 hour.


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