Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tamale Casserole

I have always been a huge fan of casseroles.  Not only are casseroles  inherently comforting, they provide the beauty of a one-dish meal.  I love being able to avoid having to make a side dish along with my entree.  Yup, I'm actually a pretty lazy cook!  A few weeks ago, while perusing Pinterest, I stumbled upon a  recipe from a blog called Nutmeg Notebook for Tamale Pie.  Unlike actual tamales, this recipe looked both easy to make and diet friendly.  I altered the recipe to my own tastes, and in effort to make it a more well-rounded meal, I added Swiss chard to the dish.  The result was a delicious, healthy, incredibly simple casserole that your whole family will enjoy.

Tamale Casserole
Serves 6

1/2 Onion, diced
1 lb Lean Ground Beef
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2/3 Packet Taco Seasoning (or your own seasoning)
1 1/2 Cups Enchilada Sauce
1/2 Cup Salsa
15.5 oz Black Beans, rinsed and drained
1 Bunch of Swiss Chard, chopped 
1 Tube (18 oz) of Ready-Made Polenta
1 Cup Reduced Fat Mexican Cheese, shredded
Optional: 1/2 Cup Light Sour Cream & Remaining Taco Seasoning Packet


1. In a large skillet, cook ground beef and onions until the meat is no longer pink. Drain if needed.

2. Over medium-high heat, add in garlic to the meat, and saute for a minute. Mix in 2/3 a packet of taco seasoning, enchilada sauce, salsa, and black beans.  Stir in chard and cover.  Cook until chard has wilted and the mixture is hot (about 5-7  minutes), stirring occasionally.

2. Grease a baking dish  (I used a 2 1/2 Quart Corningware dish).  Slice the polenta and cover the bottom of the dish with an even layer of the polenta.   Pour meat mixture on top, cover, and microwave for 8 minutes or until heated throughout.  Sprinkle the top with shredded cheese and microwave uncovered for an additional minute or until cheese has melted.  

or: Bake, covered, in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25 minutes, or until heated throughout. Sprinkle with Cheese, and bake uncovered for an additional 5 minutes.

4. Optional:  Stir in 1/3 a Taco Seasoning Packet with 3/4 Cup of Sour Cream; serve 2 tbsp of mixture on top of each serving of tamale casserole.

Serving Size: 1/6th of Casserole
Calories: 323
Fat: 11
Carbs: 31
Protein: 27

**Recipe adapted from Nutmeg Notebook**


* I really recommend adding chard to this dish! It really added to the casserole, and made the dish so much more nutritionally well-rounded.  Feel free to use any type of chard.  If you can't find chard, you can substitute with spinach. 

* You can substitute black beans for pinto beans if you like; I think it would taste great.

* Not a fan of ground beef?  Ground turkey works great in this dish; as does shredded chicken. Or you can make it vegetarian simply by doubling the amount of beans and chard.

* I used a bottle of Trader Joe's Enchilada Sauce and Trader Joe's Double Roasted Salsa. I highly recommend both!


I cubed my polenta because that's what the original recipe said to do. However, after making (and eating) it, I plan on just slicing the polenta in the future. 

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