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FRONT BURNER: A taco treatment beefs up veggie pie

This recipe is ideal for those days when you know you should eat your vegetables, but you're craving a beefy-cheesy casserole.

The original recipe called for pie crust, but I didn't feel like making one, nor did I have a ready-made one on hand. But I did have a couple of tubes of crescent roll dough left from something I planned to make but never got around to.

The slightly sweet, puffy dough was a delicious foil for the spicy meat and vegetable mixture.

Zucchini Taco Pie

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 onion, diced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1 chile pepper such as Fresno or jalapeno, seeded and minced, optional

4 cups finely diced zucchini or yellow squash

2 carrots, finely diced

1 cup corn kernels

1 pound ground beef

2 tablespoons homemade taco seasoning (recipe follows) OR 1 (1-ounce) envelope favorite taco seasoning

1/2 cup water

Salt and ground black pepper

2 tubes crescent roll dough OR dough for a double crust 9-inch pie

2 cups shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese or a combination

2 tablespoons sour cream

Salsa, for serving

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper and chile pepper and saute for 5 minutes or until onion is beginning to soften. Add the squash, carrots and corn and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile in a separate skillet, brown the ground beef, breaking it into crumbles. Drain.

In the larger of the two skillets, combine the cooked vegetables, the cooked beef, the taco seasoning and water. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Unroll one tube of the crescent roll dough and use it to line a deep 9-inch pie plate. Prick with the tines of a fork. Sprinkle about 1/2 cup of the cheese over the crust.

Add the remaining cheese and the sour cream to the beef and vegetable mixture and mix well. Spoon mixture into the pie plate.

Unroll the remaining tube crescent roll dough and place it over the filling, tucking and folding edges to seal. If necessary cut a slit or two in the top of the crust. If the perforations in the dough have begun to separate this step is not necessary.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Serve with salsa, if desired.

Makes about 6 servings.

Recipe adapted from The Harvest Baker: 150 Sweet & Savory Recipes Celebrating the Fresh-Picked Flavors of Fruits, Herbs & Vegetables by Ken Haedrich.

I prefer to make my own taco seasoning as most packaged varieties are heavy on the salt and maltodextrin and light on the chile pepper and spices.

Taco Seasoning

1 tablespoon PLUS 1 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 cup chile powder (I like to use ancho)

1 heaping teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons cumin seed

1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes or to taste

2 teaspoons beef bouillon granules, optional

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

In an airtight container, combine all ingredients and mix well. Use 2 tablespoons per pound of ground beef or ground turkey.

Makes about 1/2 cup.

Food on 09/13/2017

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