Seeking something fun for Cinco de Mayo?
A food haystack uses a starchy base (tortilla chips, saltines, or rice), topped by a protein (beans, grated Cheddar cheese, taco-seasoned meat, and/or a vegetarian meat alternative), and fresh vegetables (shredded lettuce, tomatoes, olives, peppers). It is garnished with condiments (guacamole, sour cream, salsa).
Mexican Haystacks are like a deconstructed tostada. The haystack ingredients are served individually and assembled on the plate by the person who will be eating it. There are other variations, like Hawaiian haystacks with ham and pineapple.
Good for a crowd, the concept has been popular for at least 60 years. According to Wikipedia, they are particularly popular among Seventh-day Adventists, Mennonites, and Latter-Day Saints.
You can assemble the haystacks and bring them to the table, or simply lay out the ingredients and have each person assemble their own haystack, using as little or as much of any particular ingredient.
This recipe courtesy of Ginny Stevenson, adapted by Winner Dinners.
 Mexican Haystacks with a rice base (photo © WholeAndFree | Blogspot).
1. PREPARE all of the cheeses, vegetables, and toppings as directed, placing each item in its own small bowl. Store in the fridge while you prepare the beef and beans.
2. PLACE the ground beef, taco seasoning mix, and the amount of water indicated on the seasoning package into a skillet and cook them all together, until the meat is cooked and tender and most of the water has evaporated. While the beef is cooking…
3. PLACE the refried beans in a microwave-safe bowl and heat.
4. BRING the ingredients to the table and assemble them. Place a thin layer of refried beans on a plate and then sprinkle some tortilla chips over the beans. Add the remaining ingredients in whatever order you wish. A recommended order: beef, lettuce, Cheddar, and Monterey Jack cheeses, tomatoes, olives, green onions, guacamole, sour cream, and salsa.
*Even if you don’t use the tortilla chips for the base, you can serve them on the side.
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