I grew up on this dish. Family legend has it that my dad invented it, but I do realize there are a million versions of Mexican-style casserole (or as they say in Minnesota, "hot dish") out there. But this one is special-- to me, and apparently also my dad.
This is always the first thing he suggests for dinner when we're visiting. I'm not entirely sure if it's because he really likes it that much or just because it's an old standby that's easy to make vegetarian (throw in some soy crumbles instead of the traditional ground beef, and you're golden). I suspect it's a little of both. Whatever his reason, I can tell my mom really wishes he'd let go of his hang-up with Taco Pieces. She rolls her eyes anytime anyone says those two words together. This is probably because, having lived with my dad for over forty years, she's eaten quite a lot of it.
I have too. The only difference is, I don't get sick of it. Quite the opposite.
My version has deviated from Dad's in that I've ditched the meat and soy crumbles and opted for lentils instead. The end result is still true to the spirit of the original "hot dish", and it still makes me think of my dad...
I hope you had a happy birthday!
the veggies (etc):
- 1 TBS olive oil
- One onion, finely chopped
- One red or green bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 2 1/2 cups cooked lentils (from about 1 cup dry)
- 2 cups cooked red kidney beans (from about 1 cup dry)
- 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/8 tsp cayenne
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup water
- 6 to 10 medium to large tortillas
- 4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- Your favorite taco fixings (salsa, plain yogurt/sour cream, lettuce, chopped tomatoes, etc)
- Preheat your oven to 350° and heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Add the onions to the skillet and saute for a couple minutes before adding the bell pepper. Continue cooking until the onions are translucent.
- Add the corn and cook until it's defrosted, then throw in the beans, spices, salt, and 1/4 cup water. Stir and cook for a few minutes, until well-incorporated and heated through, then turn off the heat and set aside.
- In a 9x13" glass baking dish, put down a layer of tortillas (using about a third of them, or 2 to 3 tortillas), tearing the tortillas and piecing them together for even coverage.
- Layer 1/2 of the filling mixture on top of the tortillas, then sprinkle that evenly with about a third of the cheese.
- Repeat the last two steps to make another layer of tortillas, filling, then cheese.
- Top all that with one more layer of tortillas, then the last of the cheese.
- Bake in the oven for about a half hour, or until it's all heated through and the cheese on the top is golden.
- Slice and serve topped with whatever you like on your tacos-- salsa, lettuce, etc.