Sunday, September 18, 2011

When is Mexican Pizza not Mexican Pizza?

When it's a casserole! Corny, I know, but since corn tortillas are involved with today's recipe...yes, it's getting worse. So anyway, I was going through magazines and cookbooks looking for something Mexican. I found a catchy title, "Stuffed Mexican Pizza Pie" and thought it sounded interesting. I mean how could I go wrong? I know what stuffed pizza is and this sounded like it had a little Mexican flair to it, so I read the recipe. Hmmm, read it again; hmmm, still don't get it. It wasn't that it was very complicated, I just was not understanding how it was related to stuffed pizza, or how it was in the realm of Mexican cuisine.

The ingredients that made it Mexican were: tomatoes with green chilies and Monterey and Colby Jack cheeses...that's it. The ingredient that made it pizza dough; however, the preparation was for a casserole. I decided to stare at the items in my seasonings cabinet for awhile and then raid the pantry; a little of this and a lot of something else made this faux Mexican Pizza recipe into a dish that was worth all the thought.

The smell of it cooking got the taste buds salivating; my husband ended up eating one and a half portions. This was his review: medium spiciness; almost nacho like in taste, but meatier; loved the bright colors of the peppers and tomatoes; the crushed corn tortillas gave the pizza dough a nice texture and crunch; it also enhanced the flavors of the meat, veggies and seasonings. Could he be biased? Could be, but he knows I need honest opinions on my recipes, so he wouldn't dare lie or say something nice just to spare my feelings.

Well, without further ado, here is: Mexican Pizza Casserole.

Mexican Pizza Casserole


3 lbs lean ground beef, 90% or more
1 cup each diced green bell pepper and onion
1 Tbsp each onion, garlic and chili powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 ½ cups quick cook rice
1 ½ cups hot water
1 (8 oz) bag Mexican cheese mix
1 lb homemade pizza dough or 1 (10 oz) canister refrigerated pizza dough
1 cup crushed corn tortilla chips


In a large skillet, on medium-high heat, brown beef; halfway through add in bell pepper and onion. When completely browned, add in seasonings, tomatoes, rice and hot water; mix and bring to a boil.

While ingredients in skillet are waiting to boil, preheat oven to 425F; spray a 3 qt baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Place ingredients from skillet into baking dish; spread cheese evenly over mixture.

Spread pizza dough over top, cut several slits to release air; spread tortilla chips evenly over dough and lightly press into the dough. Bake for 15-20 minutes, dough will rise and brown on edges. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Makes 9 servings.

Notes: a dollop of sour cream and/or guacamole can be added to each serving, if desired.

Mary Cokenour