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Ro*Tel (Recipe: Tex-Mex turkey lasagne)


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.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Mexicali meatloaf
Albornia de chayote
Mole colorado
Spicy skirt steak
Four-cheese lasagne

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


Every year while the boys were growing up, I drove them up to Michigan to visit their grandmother. NO rotel in Michigan. . . So, rotel became one of those must pack in the car items.
Rotel turkey lasagna sounds grand to me.

I've never had Rotel before, but it sounds quite delicious. Love the Mexican lasagna recipe!

I think the arrival of Ro*Tel is absolutely due to the power of your food blog - I'm already working on a list of missing items in NY that you might want to tackle! I do love variations on traditional lasagna and this one sounds great.

I've been singing those blues for years, but finally found some Ro-Tel in Queens--talk about a happy day!

Yay, for the power of blogging!

Mmm, I love the idea of a Mexican lasagna! I've seen Ro*Tel in my supermarket in NY, but I've never bought it because I didn't really understand the significance... this looks like a great way to try it!

I was just wondering about what I should make for dinner. I think I have a winner here!

There is a local Mexican place that makes an amazing Mexican lasagna and sadly up to this post the idea that I could make it at home never popped in my head. Starred this one because I want to give it a shot.

That lasagna looks amazing. I don't believe I have seen ro*tel before but I'll keep an eye out for it.

I'm psyched about ole ole week! mexican food is cheap and delicious, we make it all the time. do you have any mexican pork chop recipes?

Yum! One time in college I was staying at a girlfriend's house and her mother made a Tex-Mes lasagne that I loved but haven't had since - I want to try this recipe!

MyKitchen, I love that you would send the kids off with Ro*Tel -- now, did their grandmother know how to cook with it?

Jason, you will fall in love with Ro*Tel, I promise. It's found its way into so many dishes in our house.

TW, Lisa, Pam: I will take credit for singlehandedly bringing Ro*Tel to the East Coast! Yes, send your wish list, and I'll start blogging....

Joanna, the secret must be in the spices, because Ro*Tel really does taste different than other canned tomato-chile products.

Janel, I've been making lots of this sauce to keep in the freezer. Then the Tex-Mex lasagne takes just minutes to prepare.

Jeff, this is definitely an easy version. I was going to say that it's probably not authentic, but then again, what is authentic Tex-Mex lasagne anyway? You'll enjoy this, I'm sure.

Veron, product distribution being what it is, if Ro*Tel has made it to the mid-Atlantic states, odds are it has found a supermarket near you, too.

Amy, I don't eat pork, so don't have any recipes specifically for pork chops. If you use the Food Blog Search box to the right, you will no doubt find some great recipes.

Maris, this is easy easy easy, and the sauce is a great thing to keep on hand for your worknight dinners.

LOL - good thing you didn't get caught taking a picture in the store! I am pretty sure they frown on that!
(I will be going immediately to my local S&S to check for Ro*tel!)

Oh lord, Ro-Tel on the east coast! I'm in Alexandria - I'll have to cruise some supermarkets. If I could find Ro-Tel and Ranch Style beans, I'd be a happy camper.

And I have some frozen turkey taking up valuable freezer real estate.

RoTel is my secret nacho ingredient. Tis sounds so yummy!

are you getting this horrid rain and lighting storms we're getting today? I'm just so sick of it. been busy in the kitchen though, baking away.
I never make enough lasagne, I think because I do everything the old fashioned way and get tired because of all the work. I need to try this easier faster ways. Never used turkey in a lasagne, but I'm open to new adventures! LOL

What a great lasagna!

Carol, I'm sure they would have frowned on it, but I was very quick! I hope S&S everywhere is carrying Ro*Tel now. Happy hunting.

LeeLee, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that you can find it in your area.

Noble Pig, Ro*Tel for nachos sounds great. Is this where you melt it with Velveeta cheese?!

Dawn, using tortillas for lasagne makes this quick and easy. You can also use regular lasagne noodles, without precooking them -- just cook the lasagne for a bit longer, and make sure there is plenty of sauce to provide liquid to the noodles. Turkey in meat sauces really lightens them up. I think you'll like it.

Kevin, it's a bit of a train wreck in the pan, but after it sits for a few minutes and regroups, this lasagne even looks as good as it tastes -- and it tastes great!

$1+/can w/your Stop & Shop card. Yikes! Just another reason never to leave Texas if you can help it. Ro-Tel is a staple in my pantry as well. Can't imagine living w/o it. My husband for one would just die. Congrats to you for finding it. Hope they keep the supply up for you!

Sounds delicious! I might even be able to resist adding cilantro.

Mali, it's outrageous, isn't it? And yet I feel lucky to have Ro*Tel at any price.

Kalyn, I don't think cilantro would hurt it one bit!

okay, after reading this i got me some ro-tel. it makes a darn good bloody mary. :D

I can't believe some of you never heard of Rotel! But to be fair I never had either till I moved to Texas. Now I live in Raleigh and I certainly see it on the store shelves. But even if you don't have it locally you can still find it as diced tomatoes and green chilies by Hunts or one of those other tomato companies. We always just liked to make queso dip with it! Hey, Rotel in a Bloody Mary. Interesting.

Bee, I think you're going to start a trend -- Ro*Tel Bloody Marys!

Aimee, whatever special spices or chiles Ro*Tel puts in that can sure taste better than any of the imitators I've tried. I feel like I have a lifetime of Ro*Tel deprivation to overcome!

I bought some the other day after reading this post but wasnt able to make your lasagne recipe. For two days it sat on the kitchen counter tempting me. Finally, i could stand it no longer and so last night just before half a cup of rice was almost done simmering I emptied a can of ro*tel into the pot. Served with baked chicken pieces it was quite awesome.....quite hot too! Thanks

Milton, way to go! You'll start finding all sorts of cool things to do with Ro*Tel now!

Ahhhh! What a beautiful use of Rotel, Lydia. A little zing and heat is often called for in Italian dishes. I haven't ever wrestled with making lasagna, but this might be the recipe to start with. And thanks for the shout out for my linguine with red clam sauce!

Terry, making lasagne is a right of passage -- you must do it, whether totally from scratch, or with a few shortcuts.

I have felt your pain, living in the northeast. I still take an extra suitcase with me when we go back home to TX for vacation just to hold certain unattainable delicacies like rotel, fiesta fajita season, tony chachere' seasoning, woody's bbq sauce, mexican vanilla . . .well, you get the picture. :)

Great lasagna recipe! Thanks.

Jas, I think that the next time I travel to Texas, I'll have to bring an extra bag -- everything on your list sounds great!

This is the 2nd Mexican lasagna I've seen 2nite and I want a slab more than ever now! Love your stacks of canned tomatoes!

I halved all the sauce ingredients except the cinnamon, making only enough sauce for one pan of lasagna. And it was still way too spicy! Next time, I will use half of one can of Ro-Tel. I also needed more 8-inch flour tortillas than what the recipe called for when using a 9-inch pan. I used at least 8, maybe 9, maybe 10. The finished lasagna did have a huge number of yummy-looking layers.

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