Nacho cake: Mexican tortilla layer bake with chilli jam

Layered Mexican nacho cake.
Layered Mexican nacho cake. Photo: David Reist
Dietary
Vegetarian

You won't miss the meat in this hearty bake that sings with the colours of Mexico. Tortillas layered with a spicy bean mixture, guacamole, spinach and cheese - meet the nacho cake!

Ingredients

13 large corn tortillas

4kg ripe tomatoes, chopped roughly

1 tbsp salt

1/2 cup olive oil

1 head of garlic, peeled but each clove left whole

300g red kidney beans, soaked in water for 24 hours, drained

Pickling reduction (see below)

1 cup grated mozzarella

1/4 cup pickled jalapenos, chopped

2 ripe avocados

1 lime

1 small red onion

1 bunch coriander, leaves chopped coarsely

2 bunches spinach, chopped

1 thumb-sized knob of fresh ginger, grated

1 tsp turmeric powder

Salt and pepper

1 cup sour cream, to serve


Pickling reduction

2 tbsp coriander seed

2 tbsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp caraway seed

1/4 cup mustard seeds

2 cups red wine vinegar

100g sugar

1 tbsp turmeric powder

1 tbsp annatto seed, optional

2-4 tbsp chilli paste

2 tbsp salt

1 tbsp black peppercorn, ground

Method

Heat your oven to 220C. Mix the tomatoes with salt, oil and garlic cloves, cover and bake until they all collapse. If you have a pressure cooker, on high pressure this will take 20 minutes plus cooling time. In the oven it will take an hour or so.

Once fully cooked through, pass the tomatoes mixture through a food mill to remove the seeds and skin. In a pot, add the soaked and drained beans and cover with about half the tomato mixture. Bring to a very low simmer and cook covered until the beans are super soft, the tomato sauce has been mostly absorbed in the process. Mash them up with a potato masher so that they are half smashed. Set aside.

Bring the rest of the tomato puree to a simmer, add the pickling reduction (recipe below) and cook this down to a very thick sauce, stir often as it has a propensity to burn but it needs to be almost paste like so that it sets when cold. Cool a little and pour into sterilised jars. Add half a cup of the tomato jam to the smashed beans.

Remove the seed and skin from the avocados, chop into a dice and then mash them up with a fork, doesn't have to be super smooth. Grate over the mashed avocados, the zest from the lime and the squeeze the over juice. Add, and mix in, the red onion and coriander leaf. Bring a pot of water to the boil and blanch the spinach, refresh under cold water and heat up a large pan. Add a splash of olive oil and cook the spinach with the ginger and turmeric for five minutes. Set aside.

Turn the oven down to 180C. Cut the tortillas to the same size as the base of a 20cm springform pan that you will now use. Line the base and sides with parchment paper (make the sides a little higher than the pan) and brushed with oil. Now you can start to build the cake. 

One tortilla on the base, smear it with one third of the bean mixture which should cover it neatly. Next add another tortilla and add a third of the avocado mash, cover with another tortilla. Add a third of the spinach to the next layer. The last layer is some grated cheese and a sprinkle of the jalapenos. Now repeat that twice more so you have twelve layers and the pan is quite full. Place the last tortilla on the top, press down and smear with a few tablespoons of the chilli jam and sprinkle with a little cheese.

Bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes and leave to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, weigh it by placing a plate on top and a few bags of flour or something like that. Now remove the pan and place on a serving dish. Cut into 12 slices and serve with chilli jam, the sour cream and a green salad.

For the pickling reduction

In a dry pan, fry the coriander, cumin and caraway seeds until they get all fragrant, grind to a powder and set aside. Bring the red wine vinegar to a simmer with a cup of water and the sugar, then add the mustard seeds. Cook this down by two thirds over a gentle heat; it should take an hour or so. Add the rest of the ingredients and reduce to a thick jammy-like liquid. Keep warm.