Even though some afternoons still have warm sun peeking through, the weather has undoubtedly changed. We can keep the windows open at night for a cool breeze, no A/C is needed and the sun is rising later and setting earlier. Fall is coming. With fall, I find myself grilling less and making more casseroles for leftovers instead of salads. My husband recently canned some salsa and had a bit leftover. I decided to make this healthier version of a taco casserole for us. Warm and comforting, but not totally loaded with cheese and sour cream. Don’t worry, there is a bit of cheese in there!
This makes 6 servings with about 400 calories per generous serving. Each serving provides a great dose of protein, healthy carbs and fiber. Keep in mind, additional toppings will add to the calories count so instead of sour cream, try adding more salsa or taco sauce and cilantro.
- 2 cups brown rice, cooked according to directions (I love these microwave packages, so easy / fuss-free)
- 1 lb. lean ground beef
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon each: paprika, ground cumin, garlic powder, chili powder, dried oregano and crushed red pepper flakes (or you can use taco seasoning in place per instructions)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 (15 oz.) can fat free refried beans
- 1 (15 oz.) can fresh salsa (could sub RoTel or something similar)
- 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese
- Sliced tomatoes and pickled jalapenos as garnish
- Feel free to top with other taco faves – sour cream, more salsa, cilantro, guacamole or taco sauce
Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare rice per directions and set aside. Cook ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat, breaking it into crumbles. Cook for 3-4 minutes and then add diced onion. Cook through and drain any fat if needed. Add all the garlic and seasoning and stir until well combined. Add the cooked rice, beans and salsa. Mix thoroughly, taste and season more if needed.
Spray a 9×13 baking dish with spray and pour mixture into the dish, spreading evenly. Top with tomato and pickled jalapenos if you wish. Cover with shredded cheese.
Cover the baking dish with tin foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 5-7 minutes until the cheese is golden. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Garnish as you wish!
This was the rice I used – cooks in 90 seconds, perfect! I sometimes put food out the night before I am going to cook it just to get things ready. I had some items out, including an onion and someone left me a note: HELLO, please leave me a little for my brats. Please. How can I say no to TWO pleases. Ha!
So this isn’t the most photogenic meal and it was getting dark in the house but here is the meat browning with spices, with the beans and rice, topped with jalapenos and tomatoes and finally with the cheese.
All cooked up. It sets up nicely together if you allow it to cool.
This is a great meal for leftovers. I portion them out with some veggies and this freezes very well. Enjoy!