When I first met my husband, he was a picky eater. Seriously. At the dining hall, he would eat burgers, fries, and pizza. And cookies and ice cream, of course. Every once in a while he would get crazy and throw shredded cheese on some chips, put it in the microwave, and call it nachos. But other than that, he was strictly on the plain-foods diet. Slowly, his tastes started to expand. He’d come to my apartment and I’d force him to eat vegetables as a side dish even when I cooked with peppers and onions in the main dish. I forced my heat-wuss start to acclimate to flavors like buffalo sauce and jalapenos. It was a tough job, but somebody had to do it.
Six years later, the boy actually enjoys spice and flavor. He’ll order the mango habanero wings at B-Dubs, and he frequently retrieves the Tabasco Sauce from the fridge to kick up various dishes. And, he loves nachos. No, not that microwaved junk from the dining hall, but honest-to-goodness chips with meat and beans and cheese baked in the oven. While I’m pleased that his palette has expanded, I have to admit I can only eat nachos so often. So, as a bit of a compromise I developed this taco casserole. A twist on the stuffed pepper casserole my mom made when I was a kid, this dish has all of the flavor of nachos without all of the mess. And with rice instead of chips, I feel a bit better about serving it as dinner. As a bonus, it is a great make-ahead meal; you can even freeze it and then bake it later!
So go ahead and have yourself a fiesta. Margaritas are optional, but always recommended.
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 cup red onion, diced
- 1 jalapeno, diced
- 1 sweet red pepper, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 14 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 10 oz box frozen corn, defrosted
- 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes, with juices
- ¼ cup taco seasoning
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 3-4 cups cooked rice
- ½ cup shredded cheese (Pepper Jack, Cheddar, Mexi-blend)
- In a large sauté pan over medium high, brown the ground beef and drain the excess fat.
- Add the onion, jalapeno, and sweet pepper and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
- Add the black beans and corn and stir to combine, sautéing for a minute.
- Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium low and add in the spices. Cook for about five minutes, stirring occasionally so everything is incorporated with the liquid.
- Stir the rice into the meat mixture. Transfer the mixture into a casserole dish prepared with cooking spray. If saving for later, stop here and start with step six when continuing.
- Top the casserole with the shredded cheese, and bake in an oven preheated to 375 for 10-15 minutes, until cheese is bubbly. (If cooking from the fridge, cook time will be increased).