Earlier this month on Facebook we all had a little chat about casseroles. They’re kinda tricky with Paleo since so many traditional recipes call for things like cream-of-whatever soups, cheeses, boxed stuffings or basically stuff that we don’t really eat anymore. But my family likes them a lot so I’ve had to be creative in this department. My Skillet Chicken Divan certainly was a winner, but it’s been a while since I’ve revisited this topic.
Happily Paleo Tex-Mex Casserole can now be added to my short, but proud, list of Paleo casseroles and one-dish meals that are family approved! This is LOADED with vegetables — like so many I actually thought that I might have missed the mark while I was prepping it. But once everything has a chance to spend a little Q.T. in the oven together, it works perfectly!
1 – 1.5 pounds grass-fed ground beef
2 cups spinach
2-3 carrots, diced (about a cup)
1 parsnip, diced (about a cup and a half)
1 zucchini, diced (6″ zucchini/one cup)
2 cups diced bell peppers
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
14.5 oz can organic diced tomatoes
3 TBSP preferred Paleo-friendly fat (I used bacon grease)
1/3 cup taco seasoning (or make your own)
1/2 tsp sea salt
5 cups shredded sweet potatoes
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground coriander
Optional garnish: fresh cilantro, sliced scallions, avocado and hot sauce
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees (Fahrenheit).
Chop, dice and mince all the veggies and garlic. Notice that the volume of veggies to meat in the recipe is astoundingly in favor of the vegetables!
Melt half of your fat of choice in a very large skillet or heavy-bottomed pan and add in all the veggies. Season with that 1/2 tsp of sea salt, toss together and cook these down until they are just about fork tender. Remove from the pan and set aside for later.
In the same pan, add in the other half of your fat and get it up to temp. Crumble in the ground beef, top with taco seasoning (purchased or your own blend, whatever you are comfortable with), mix and brown.
While the ground beef browns, break out your grater. Now, grating is my all-time LEAST favorite chore in the kitchen, so this girl goes right to her Cuisinart food processor and shredder disk attachment. Peel enough sweet potatoes to get you about 5 cups worth — I used 3 fairly large ones. Grate the sweet potatoes and set in a large mixing bowl.
Melt 1/2 cup of coconut oil and pour over the shredded sweet potatoes while warm, toss immediately! The coconut oil will start to solidify again as it cools, so work efficiently. Once the coconut oil is mixed well, sprinkle the sweet potatoes with the onion powder, chili powder and ground coriander. Mix together.
Add the cooked vegetables and the diced tomatoes back into the pan with the beef, mix carefully to bring everything together and cook for another 3 minutes or so… just to let all of the ingredients get to know each other for a second. Transfer all of this veggie-meaty goodness to a large casserole dish (I filled a 9″ x 13″ pan). Top with the seasoned, shredded sweet potatoes, cover with foil and pop this in the oven.
Bake at 375 degrees (Fahrenheit) for 20-30 minutes, then remove the foil and broil on low for 5 minutes — or until the sweet potatoes have browned and crisped up a bit. Eyeball it. To serve, top with fresh cilantro and sliced scallions with some avocado and hot sauce on the side!
And when you’re staring down some leftovers, reheat and top with a runny fried egg! Makes a great breakfast, lunch or dinner!
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Sometimes Paleo recipes use unfamiliar ingredients or specialty cooking tools. Here’s what I used for this recipe to make things go a little smoother:
Coconut Oil (find quality organic, unrefined oil here)