Back in November 2008, just after the election, I wrote about the heartbreak of living in a country still divided -- not by politics, but by Ro*Tel®.
Yes, I wrote, I live in a blue state.
Blue, as in singing the blues. As in woe-is-us, no Ro*Tel blues.
In my local supermarket, I found a substitute, diced tomatoes with green chiles, made by an Italian foods manufacturer. Not Ro*Tel, but close enough. I bought a couple of cans for the pantry and resigned myself to a life of deprivation.
The following week, as I cruised the aisles in my local grocery store, I spied a pile of cans on the top shelf in the canned vegetable section -- yellow cans jumping out from the sea of red-tomato-colored labels.
Could it be? Yes! Ro*Tel, the real thing, right there in my Rhode Island grocery store! And only one week after I'd been singing the Ro*Tel blues. (I snapped a quick photo with my phone.)
Coincidence? Or the power of the food blog?
Ro*Tel is mildly spicy, thoroughly delicious, convenience in a can: diced tomatoes, diced green chiles, salt, and a proprietary combination of spices that give it an irresistible flavor.
Sure, you can make your own, but why store both tomatoes and green chiles when, so often, you'll want to use them together in dishes like Santa Fe soup with chicken? And once you get into the Ro*Tel habit -- and believe me, the flavor is more than a little bit addictive -- you'll want to branch out, to linguine with red clam sauce, Louisiana gumbo, black-eyed peas, Three Sisters white chili, enchilada casserole, slow-cooked carnitas tacos, or a big ol' plate of nachos.
Thank you, Ro*Tel.
I still live in a blue state.
But now it's just politics.
Tex-Mex turkey lasagne
First, you make a "spaghetti" sauce, then turn it into a "lasagne". Make a full batch, or even double, of this sauce. It's that good! Keep the sauce in the freezer, to use for enchiladas, pizza, pasta, quesadillas, and Spicy Joes. Makes approximately 3 quarts.
For the Tex-Mex "spaghetti" sauce:
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 lbs ground turkey
1 large onion, diced
1/2 large green pepper, diced
3-4 large garlic cloves, minced
32 oz chopped canned tomato (I use Pomi)
2 10-oz cans Ro*Tel
1 heaping Tbsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp adobo seasoning (or Mexican oregano)
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
Hot sauce (optional), to taste
For the "lasagne" (serves 4; can be expanded to fit any size pan):
2-3 cups Tex-Mex meat sauce (above)
4-5 soft-taco size whole wheat or oat bran tortillas (8-inch)
8 oz shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese, regular or low-fat
In a large heavy stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat and add the turkey. Stir, breaking up all of the pieces, until the meat is no longer pink. Add the onion and green pepper, and sauté, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic, stir, and cook for 1 minute. Add tomato, Ro*Tel, cumin, cinnamon, adobo, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer, and cook, stirring every 5-10 minutes, for 50 minutes, or until the sauce reaches desired consistency. Taste, adjust for seasoning, and add a few drops of hot sauce if you wish.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a 9-inch square cake pan or any other ovenproof baking dish, spread a small amount of sauce. Cover with a tortilla (or as many as you need to cover the pan). Add another thin layer of meat sauce. Cover that with a layer of cheese. Repeat: tortilla, sauce, cheese. And again. Stop when you get near the top of your pan, ending with a cheese layer. Cover with foil, and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cheese on top has melted. It will look like a ghastly mess, so uncover and let it sit and regroup for 15 minutes before you cut it. Can be frozen.
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