It’s no secret if you’ve read my blog for awhile…I LOVE Mexican food. This is not that. It is pure hybrid Tex Mex. I am a Texan from birth and though I have never had cowboy boots or a pickup, I was born eating Tex Mex. Another part of my Texas heritage is casseroles. Love them or hate them, most of us grew up with something in a Pyrex baking dish with lots of different ingredients baked together, so when I came up with this Tex Mex Taco casserole this weekend, it was pure happy, Texas comfort food!
What the Heck is Tex Mex Taco Casserole
We are a baseball family. My youngest son’s dream since he was 4 is being an MLB player in a few years (yes, he does have a backup plan…) so the World Series was a constant for nighttime TV this past weekend. Always loving a themed dinner, I decided to make ballpark-esque food last night. My original thought was nachos but after a weekend of heavy eating I thought a salad would be better so as it ended up we had a taco salad/nacho mashup that was delicious but after sneaking a little cilantro lime rice on my plate and mixing it in with the ground beef and queso, I realized I was onto something and this casserole was born. These were the elements that were originally destined for the taco salad/nacho situation and slid right in to the casserole:
Taco Meat – Simply ground beef that I seasoned with onions, garlic and my Mexican Seasoning Blend.
“Cheese” Sauce – I had leftover Vegan Queso that I had frozen (it freezes great, just thin with a little almond milk and heat) but you can use regular cheese, jarred vegan queso such as Siete, or another brand of organic jarred queso that has no chemicals or additives, just real food ingredients.
Rice – You can certainly use regular rice as I did last night but to bump up the veggie factor when I recreated this for an actual recipe test today, I used cauliflower rice and it was equally GREAT!
Veggies – I chopped up all the other usual suspects, jalapenos, avocado, cilantro, and lettuce (for extra veggies) for last night’s taco salad/nacho fest, but for the casserole, these all became toppers except for the lettuce.
Sauces – I used bottled hot sauce and my Homemade Ranch Dressing
Tex Mex Taco Casserole | Paleo and Whole30
- Casserole Ingredients
1 lb ground beef
1/2 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp Mexican Seasoning Blend or Chili Powder plus salt to taste
1 lb frozen cauliflower rice
2 cups prepared vegan queso (1 recipe from my blog or about 2 10 oz jars) or 2 cups shredded cheese
Jalapenos – pickled or regular
Thinly sliced green onion
Homemade Ranch Dressing or Greek yogurt
Hot Sauce or salsa
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Saute the ground beef with the onion and garlic
- Add seasonings and saute for another minute to toast the spices then add 1/3 cup water and let simmer until water has evaporated.
- Meanwhile, heat the cauliflower rice in a large skillet until it has dried out somewhat and is turning golden brown. Alternatively, you can spread it into a single layer on a baking sheet and bake it for a few minutes or until it is starting to turn golden and most of the water has evaporated.
- If the queso is really thick, thin it out with a little milk.
- Using a 9 x 11 pan (10 cup capacity), layer the cauliflower rice, taco meat and queso, making sure to cover the meat layer with the queso.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the queso is bubbly and starting to brown on the edges.
- Serve topped with avocado, jalapeno, cilantro, thinly sliced green onions, Ranch dressing or Greek yogurt and hot sauce or salsa.