Southwestern Baked Pasta

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I think casseroles were invented for busy people – and rightly so. They’re easy to put together, use a minimal number of dishes and generally make enough food for more than one meal. This Southwestern Baked Pasta fits all of those descriptors, and it certainly tastes great. The bonus item with this casserole is that it’s healthier for you than most traditional casseroles because it’s made with Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Penne Pasta. If you’re like me and shy away from spicy foods, never fear; this recipe has all of the warm flavors of Southwestern food, but isn’t the least bit spicy – especially when you dollop a little sour cream on top. On the other hand, if you‘d like a little more heat, you can adjust the spiciness without any trouble.

Ingredients

  • sour cream
  • 1/2 box Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Penne, 6 oz
  • 1 lb ground beef, use lean beef if possible
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large, sweet bell pepper, or 3 mini sweet bell peppers
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 16 oz container salsa
  • 3 cups Mexican blend cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, fresh, chopped

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta for seven minutes.  Drain and set aside. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Sauté onion, garlic and peppers for three minutes or until the onion begins to soften.  Add the ground beef, spices and salt and continue to cook until the ground beef is browned and cooked through.  Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the beans and salsa.  Add the cooked pasta and toss it together with the meat mixture until well combined.  Spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and put half the pasta mixture into the pan.  Top with half of the cheese.  Cover with the remaining pasta mixture followed by the remaining cheese.  Bake in a 350˚F oven for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is golden and the casserole is bubbly.  Serve immediately with sour cream and a sprinkle of chopped cilantro on top of each serving.

Makes approximately 8 adult-sized servings. Print this Recipe

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