tortilla torte from my childhood

This meal is a blast from the past (circa 1993-ish) for me. That year, a summertime ear infection from too many days in the pool prompted my stepmom to take me to the doctor for treatment. In the waiting room, she came across this recipe while flipping through a magazine and thought she'd try it out for dinner. And with four growing girls, she liked that it was a large, filling dish. One taste and we were all hooked!

This has been a family favorite ever since then, although I've added a couple of things, including sauteed onions and garlic, whole-wheat tortillas, extra spices and a can of  green chilies for flavor. Serve it with hot sauce or jalapenos, sour cream and salsa, and a big, fat salad for a great, healthy dinner!

Tortilla Torte
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 small can diced green chilies, undrained
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 3 large whole-wheat tortillas
  • 2 c cheddar or Mexican cheese blend, shredded
  • Salt, pepper, olive oil
  • Toppings such as: salsa, sour cream, cilantro, spicy things
  1. Start by sauteing the beef over medium heat. When the pink is just gone, remove from pan and allow to drain on paper towels to remove any extra fat. Wipe any excess fat from the pan and add a swirl of olive oil, the onions and garlic, and some salt and pepper to taste.
  2. When the onions are transclucent, add the beef back to the pan, along with the tomatoes, chilies, beans and spices. Stir together and allow to cook together for five or so minutes.
  3. Spray a cast-iron skillet and lay the first tortilla down. Using a slotted spoon, transfer 1/2 of the filling and 1/3 of the cheese on top, spreading it evenly over the tortilla. Repeat the process until you have two layers of the meat-bean-cheese goodness, topping with the final tortilla with the remaining 1/3 of cheese.
  4. Cover the cast-iron pan with a lid and cook over medium-low heat until the cheese is melty on a layer or two below the top tortilla. Throw it under the broiler until the top is toasty and the torte is bubbly, like below (5-7 mins).
  5. Serve immediately with salsa, sour cream, hot sauce, jalapenos, cilantro and any other toppings you like.
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