I love tacos but there was always something about them that made me feel like they wouldn't work for a weeknight. I think it was all the prep work for the various toppings, trying not to overfill them at the table and a general dislike of tacos made with soft flour tortillas. Then I saw these Crunchy Baked Tacos from No. 2 Pencil and it was like a light bulb went off in my head. Minimal work and crunchy shells. I was sold.
Baking the shells with the meat and cheese already inside was brilliant - I hate when the cheese isn't fully melted and this solves that problem. Plus, you just take a taco from the baking dish and you're ready to eat. I kept the toppings simple - shredded lettuce, diced grape tomatoes and I found an avocado in my crisper so I diced that up, too. Some sour cream at the table and we were set.
This is definitely my new favorite taco recipe. I swapped out my filling recipe but kept the method the same. The one thing I didn't like - these don't reheat well the next day. In fact, they were downright awful. My recommendation would be to only make as many as you anticipate eating. The good news is they take hardly any time to cook so you can assemble some more and bake them off quickly if you decide you want a second helping.
Crunchy Baked Tacos
Filling from A Taste of Home Cooking, method from No. 2 Pencil
1 5.8 oz box yellow corn taco shells (12 shells)
1 pound ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 clove minced garlic
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup salsa
1/4 cup sour cream
2 cups of freshly shredded colby jack cheese
romaine lettuce, shredded
vine-ripened tomatoes, diced
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place shells in a 9x13 baking dish.
Heat a saute pan over medium heat. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking up the large chunks, until just starting to brown. Add the onion and garlic and saute until the onions are soft and the beef is cooked through. Add the cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper and tomato paste. Let cook for about 5 minutes. Off heat, add the salsa and sour cream and stir to incorporate.
Sprinkle half of the cheese in the bottom of each taco shell. Evenly distribute the ground beef in each shell. Top ground beef with remaining shredded cheese.
Bake for 8-10 minutes (mine were done at 8 minutes), or until cheese is melted and shells have started to crisp.
Remove from oven and top with lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream and taco sauce.