This isn’t just any taco casserole! Packed with grass-fed beef, nutrient dense liver, and mineral rich veggies, this nourishing dinner is next level!
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Snow and winter casseroles…it doesn’t get any more Mid-West than that, I’d say! It’s been a strange winter, with lower than usual snow amounts, but of course the cold weather still hangs around, which means one of our favorite winter dinner warm-up’s – an easy, comforting, nourishing, casserole!
A casserole, nourishing?!
I know, I know. If you google Mid-West casseroles or hot-dishes, you’re going to find many meals with creamed condensed soup bases, and not a whole lot of other nutrients other than some meat. In fact, if you are anything like me, and grew up in the Mid-West, you probably remember these casserole or hot-dish dinners being one of the actual “homemade” things that your parents made, condensed soup and bagged cheese and all! There is nothing wrong with these comforting, beautiful memories! But there are definitely ways to bring these warm, comforting meals to this generation of kids, and give them an ingredient upgrade!
A casserole ingredient upgrade!
Here are some of the ways I’ve taken a typical Mid-West taco casserole concept, and added in a load of minerals and nutrients for your growing family!
- Use grassfed beef as well as pastured liver. Grass-fed beef is loaded with fat soluble vitamins, CLA, and protein, but anytime you make a ground beef recipe, it is a fantastic opportunity to add organ meats like liver. Organ meats like livers from pastured chickens are loaded with so much retinol -it is one of the best, most concentrated sources of the vitamin A that our growing children need for so many body functions and immune health. Liver is a fantastic source of protein, as well as B vitamins that so many of us do not consume enough of.
- Veggie load without changing the taste or texture! Yes it can be done! And if you’re kids are reluctant to eat a side salad to get veggies in at dinner, this is a great way to get those mineral rich veggies into the kids. I’ll show you a little bit later how to make them disappear into the casserole, and you’ll be shocked at just how many veggies you can get into this pan!
- And I’m only going to ask you to ditch 2 things. Adding is so easy! Ditching is hard, and I’m going to make it easy for you! First, we are going to ditch the bagged cheese and grate our own – I didn’t even say you needed to ditch the cheese! Cheese is so good for us if you tolerate dairy! Avoiding bagged shredded cheese will help you avoid the random, unnecessary fillers, starches, and food coloring. And we are also going to ditch seasonings that have sugar or any junky fillers and starches. There is a really easy taco seasoning blend that I linked in the recipe, and you can keep this for months in your spice cupboard to use for all of your taco themed meals!
Lets talk about the veggie loading!
If you have a shredder, or a shredding attachment on your food processor, your life just got a little easier! I am a true foodie at heart, and really do find it cathartic and calming to chop, and chop, and chop away, but many days, I really don’t have the time for it, and my shredder is a big time saver! It also helps to get the veggies into this form for kids (or adults!) that don’t love “pieces” in their food, or will push the plate away if they *see* any veggies. You can see how small the shredding makes the veggies, and it goes so fast too. They virtually disappear into the casserole. I like to keep the peppers and onions diced, but you can absolutely shred all of the veggies too!
Let’s get started!
You’re going to get your casserole filling started by softening the veggies in some butter. This helps them get soft and sweet, and they will not only add delicious flavor to your casserole, you’ll get a veggie mineral punch added in there too!
Finishing the filling
Once the veggies are cooked, you’ll add the beef, liver, and taco seasoning, and cook everything until the beef and liver is browned. You can make the meal without the liver if you don’t have access to quality liver, but if you do, it is a great way to get this nutrient loaded food into your family! Once the meat is cooked, you can add the tomato sauce and salsa. This just needs to simmer for a couple minutes to warm through, and then you are ready to assemble the casserole!
Let’s assemble the taco casserole!
This is the easy part! Start with scooping about a third of the filling into the bottom of your casserole dish. Then, you’ll layer corn tortillas over the top. After you layer your tortillas, add another third of the filling and sprinkle some cheese. Finally, add the second layer of tortillas, spread the last of the filling, and top it with cheese.
If you are grain and/or dairy free
If you don’t tolerate corn, or are grain free, simply leave the corn out of the filling. You’ll also want to swap the corn tortillas for cassava or almond flour tortillas – you can find these at most stores these days! If you are dairy free, you can leave the cheese out, or you can use the Viola Life coconut based cheese – it melts so good!
Gluten Free Veggie Loaded Taco Casserole
- 2 tbsp friendly fat to cook in butter, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, lard
- 1 small onion diced
- 1 medium bell pepper diced
- ¼ of a large head cauliflower shredded, chopped finely, or frozen riced cauliflower
- 1 large carrot shredded
- 1 cup frozen corn or canned corn (drain it first)
- 2 lbs grassfed ground beef
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup grated frozen liver you can add more if you want!
- 3 tbsp taco seasoning NOT taco seasoning that has thickening starches – I use my DIY Taco Season Blend
- 3-4 cups baby spinach chopped
- 1 – 15 ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 – 15 ounce jar salsa of choice
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- 12 corn tortillas
- 1-2 cups shredded cheese of choice I use Manchego, a sheep’s milk cheese
- Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. You’ll need a 9×13 pan for baking the casserole. You do NOT need to grease the pan.
- Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, and melt the butter. Add the onion, pepper, cauliflower, carrot, and corn with a big pinch of sea salt. Sauté the veggies and the corn until soft and sweet, about 7-10 minutes.
- Add the ground beef, liver, and taco seasoning, break up the beef, and brown the beef and liver with the veggies.
- Once the beef/liver is browned, add the baby spinach, tomato sauce, and salsa, and bring to a simmer for a couple minutes. Turn the heat off, and taste the filling for salt and pepper to your taste.
- Spoon 1/3 of the taco filling into the bottom of your 9×13 pan. Layer 6 corn tortillas, and then scoop another 1/3 of the taco filling over the corn tortillas. Sprinkle 1/2 cup or so of the cheese, and then layer the other 6 corn tortillas on top. Spread out the last 1/3 of the taco filling, and top with a good 1 cup or so of cheese to your liking.
- Bake the taco casserole, uncovered, at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Then, place the casserole under the broiler and broil for 3-5 minutes, until the cheese is golden on top.
- Most taco seasoning blends have starches to make a thickened sauce. This will not work in this recipe. You will either need to get a taco blend that does not have starches, or this simple DIY taco season blend can be made – you probably already have all of the seasonings in your spice rack! I typically double or triple this into a jar with a lid and keep it in the spice cupboard to use easily.
- I like to use the shredding attachment on my food processor to make this super fast and easy. You do NOT have to shred the veg if you don’t want to – I enjoy chopping and do this sometimes when I have the time, as the bits of veggies don’t bother my kids. If you have veggie-hesitant kids, or bits and pieces hesitant kids, the shredding really works so well to make the veg disappear – you can shred the onion and pepper too if you want!
- You can swap the veggies for what you have around! Cabbage shreds very nicely, as well as sweet potato.
- If you don’t tolerate corn, or are grain free, simply leave the corn out of the filling. You’ll also want to swap the corn tortillas for cassava or almond flour tortillas – you can find these at most stores these days!
- If you are dairy free, you can leave the cheese out, or you can use the Viola Life coconut based cheese – it melts so good!