Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Southwest Casserole

I love potlucks, covered dish socials, or generally any kind of get together where people bring food.    Mostly, because those kinds of functions mean people are generally in a good mood, and the food choices that people bring is always an adventure.   In our area we are limited in our choices of restaurants, but that doesn't mean we can't have good food.    We have monthly potlucks and there are some totally awesome cooks who bring a large variety of dishes, which makes for some really good eating.

Southwest Casserole fixins
A few months ago I made a Southwest Casserole for a potluck, and had people begging me for the recipe.   It's one I got from my sister and in fact is one that both of my sisters make on a regular basis.   It's easy to put together, it freezes well, and most people like it.

Browned Beef with Onions, Pepper, Spinach and Tomato
Salsa and Tomato Sauce added
Assembly time, notice the nice neat squares of Tortillas
Cheese added, ready to go back into the oven for another 10 minutes

I had to laugh a couple of years ago, when I was visiting with them, my oldest sister had everyone over for dinner and pulled one of these out of the freezer and my other sister brought one as well, that she'd made and that was in her freezer.   Between the two casseroles, there was more than enough food for all of us.   It was one of those great minds think alike moments.  (Did I mention I'm a big fan of my sisters and my brother as well? All of them are great cooks.)

Gitte’s Southwest Casserole

1 ½ lbs ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed and minced
1 ½ cups salsa   (use your favorite brand, or make your own)
8 oz can tomato sauce (you can also use El Pato Mexican Tomato sauce here, it adds a little heat).
1 tbsp. lime juice
2 med. Tomatoes, diced
1 ½ tsp. salt  (optional, I rarely use salt when cooking and in fact there is enough salt in the salsa to make up for omitting it.)
1 large red pepper, chopped
1 cup sour cream
¾ c cheddar, shredded
¾ c Monterey jack, shredded (I use grated colbyjack cheese, it works well here)
½ cup sliced black olives
10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and drained
12 flour tortillas
(I also add a couple of minced jalapeno's for some extra heat)
Keep in the freezer for a busy day casserole.

Preparation Instructions

Brown meat over medium heat with the onions and garlic. Once the meat is browned and the onions are softened, remove from heat and drain the grease.
Add salsa, spinach, tomato sauce, tomatoes, bell pepper, lime juice and salt. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Arrange 6 tortillas **  on bottom and up sides of a lightly greased 13 x 9 baking dish, overlapping as necessary. Top with half of the meat mixture. Arrange the remaining tortillas over the meat mixture, overlapping as necessary. Spread sour cream evenly over tortillas, top with remaining meat mixture.

Bake in a 350F oven for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Remove from oven and sprinkle with cheeses. Pop back in oven for about 20 minutes. Then remove it from the oven and let stand 10 minutes.

Cut into squares to serve. Garnish with olives, some sour cream and sliced green onions.
** I find that if I cut the tortillas into squares first, they’re a lot easier to serve, especially at pot lucks.
Sidsel Munkholm - Author
Sidsel Munkholm - Author

Sid loves to cook, feed people and have fun in the kitchen. She shares her successes and the involuntary offerings she sometimes gives the kitchen goddess as well. And she's still looking for the mythical fairy to help her clean the kitchen after a marathon cooking session. Currently working on a cookbook showcasing the recipes from her Danish heritage.

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