Tortilla Chip Pie or Easy Taco Salad

  • 2 – 15 oz cans kidney beans, drained OR 1 cup of dry beans, cooked tender (about 3 cups of cooked beans)
  • 1/2 to 1 pound ground beef or turkey
  • 1 tablespoon dry onion
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon EACH garlic powder and oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 3 cups whole grain corn chips or tortilla chips (read the label)
  • 1 or 2 cups shredded cheese

I start the kidney beans in the morning, bringing them to a boil in a quart of water, and then letting them rest for an hour. Then I simmer them until they are tender and refrigerate them until suppertime. If you didn’t want to cook your beans from scratch, you could use canned beans.

Get your hamburger and start it to frying in a big iron skillet. Break it up into small pieces as you go along. When it is done clear through drain off the fat if necessary. Put the beans, seasonings, and tomato sauce in the skillet with the meat. Stir it all up and simmer it for a few minutes to blend the flavors. If necessary you may add a little water, but remember you want it thick: sort of like sloppy joes. If you add too much water then you can simmer it on the stove until it thickens up to your liking.

When the mixture is good and hot, turn it into a 9″ by 13″ pan. Sprinkle the cheese on top, and then scatter the corn chips or tortilla chips over all. I casually jab the mixture with my fork or spoon to coax some of the chips into the meat mixture. You don’t want them all in the meat because they will get soggy. But the dish tastes best with a few of the chips soaking up the pan juices. Place the pan into the oven and bake at 400° for about 20 minutes. When the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly, the dish is done.

To serve, place a handful of lettuce in a bowl. Top it with a a big scoop of the tortilla chip/meat mixture. Then add fresh or canned tomatoes and yogurt or sour cream. I sprinkle mine with hot pepper flakes but this is a personal choice. Children usually don’t care for red pepper flakes but many adults find them refreshing. Tommy, my persnickety eater, finds this recipe much to his liking. Doubled, it is nice for buffet service at large gatherings. If you double the recipe bake it in two pans. I think of this recipe as healthy junk food. It serves between 8 and 10.

Ready to try another easy bean dish? Make this simple split pea soup. It’s great on a cool winter day and practically cooks itself at the back back of the stove. This soup is also a very frugal dish.

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