1 lb. ground beef or Ground Turkey
1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)
2 large onions, chopped
1 6 oz. can tomato paste (plus 3 cans water)
1 jar salsa, mild or hot, as you like it
1 or 2 fresh tomatoes, chopped coarsely
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 green bell peppers, cored and chopped
1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons Taco Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Brown the ground beef in olive oil with chopped onions, adding the peppers and garlic half way through. When the beef has brown and the vegetables have softened, add the tomato paste with water to thin it out (or thin it with vegetable broth). Stir in the jar of salsa, taco seasoning, oregano and sugar. Simmer for 30-45 minutes on low heat.
This may also be prepared in the slow cooker. As a variation, ground pork may be added. The recipe may be doubled, tripled, etc. to any proportion, either to feed a crowd or to fill the freezer with serving sized portions.
There are many ways to serve this versatile starter; some suggestions follow.
1. Mexican Buffet: Fill a serving bowl and surround it, buffet style, with side dishes of favorite toppings, such as sour cream, chopped tomatoes, chopped avocados, shredded lettuce, minced onions, salsa, shredded cheese, etc. Give each guest a taco shell, burrito wrapper or even a pita bread and allow them to build their own serving.
2. Serve on sub rolls, topped with shredded cheese. Broil on high heat for several minutes until cheese melts. Serve with a side of chopped jalapenos for optional topping.
3. Use as a topping for nachos. In a buttered casserole or baking pan, place tortilla chips or wedges of tortilla wrappers, top with the meat mixture and cheddar cheese. Sprinkle with jalapeno rings. Bake at 375°F until cheese melts.
4. Mexican Stuffed Peppers: Combine with an equal portion of cooked rice. Fill large red or green bell peppers and bake at 350°F until peppers are tender.
5. Chili: Add 2 cans red kidney beans (or 1 lb dry pinto beans, cooked). Taste and adjust seasonings.
6. Mexican Sloppy Joe: Serve in a hamburger bun with a side of ketchup or barbecue sauce. Top with onion slices browned in butter.