Beef and Bean Burrito Casserole with Cheese-Smothered Rice

What an amazing feast! Soft tortillas, filled with a hearty blend of ground beef, black beans, green chilies, and herbs. Rolled up and smothered with cheese - that alone would be a phenomenal dinner. But those killer burritos are nestled over seasoned rice and more gooey/sharp cheese. A one-skillet presentation that draws cheers from the crowd. I promise.

Even if you have a crowd of 3, like me! LOL But seriously, we were all cheering (in our own culinary ways). It's the little things sometimes, right? In this case, it was little effort and BIG flavor.

The inspiration for this dish was simple - I wanted to serve burritos and rice - not burritos WITH rice. I find that when you stuff flour tortillas with beef, beans AND rice, they're super carb-heavy. That's why I always serve my burritos with rice on the side. Which, by the way, has never been an issue! It's just that, this time, I wanted to enjoy a little scoop of rice with each burrito bite. I figured that if I served the rice under the burritos, that could work. Plus, more cheese on the rice means more cheese in every bite, which I also wanted. Holy cow, now I won't serve burritos any other way.

Think about it, you get everything you love in one pan: beef and bean burritos (seasoned to perfection with herbs, spices and diced green chilies) and cheese-smothered rice. The ultimate dinner, ready in less than 30 minutes.

Beef and Bean Burrito Casserole with Cheese-Smothered Rice

1 cup white rice (or brown, basmati or jasmine rice)
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
2 teaspoons dried cilantro, divided
1 teaspoon garlic powder, divided
1 teaspoon onion powder, divided
Salt and ground black pepper
1 pound lean ground beef
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 cup tomato sauce, beef broth or diced tomatoes
1/2 (15-ounce can) seasoned black beans or chili beans (save the remainder for another use; I have plenty on this blog!)
4-ounce can diced green chilies
1 cup Mexican cheese blend, cheddar cheese or any blend of cheeses, divided
6 fajita-size flour tortillas
Chopped fresh cilantro for serving
Chopped green onions for serving
Salsa for serving

In a small saucepan, combine the rice, butter, 1 teaspoon of the dried cilantro, 1/2 teaspoon each of the garlic powder and onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Add 2 cups of water, set the pan over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender. Fluff the rice with a fork.
Meanwhile, brown the beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat, breaking up the meat as it cooks. Add the chili powder, remaining dried cilantro, garlic powder, and onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and stir to coat. Cook for 30 seconds, until the herbs and spices are fragrant. Add the tomato sauce, beans and green chilies and return to a simmer. Partially cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
Arrange the cooked rice in a shallow baking dish (or use the same skillet you used for the beef - that's what I did). Top the rice with half of the Mexican cheese. Spoon the beef mixture into the tortillas and arrange the tortillas on top of the rice (I only showed 4 in the picture so you could see the rice underneath!). Top the burritos with the remaining cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 5 minutes. Uncover and bake for 3 to 5 more minutes, until the cheese melts.
Top with the fresh cilantro and green onions and serve with salsa on the side.
Serves 4-6