Last week, I combined two wonderful foods: taco and soup. Today, I’m sharing a taco + pasta recipe from Delish. I’m starting to see a theme here. Maybe next week I’ll invent taco ice cream. Kidding. That sounds awful.
At first I thought this was a mac n cheese recipe with taco meat, but far from it. It’s definitely cheesy, but the main star is still the pasta sauce, which happens to have a lot of cheese in it. Better yet, it’s absolutely delicious and super easy to make. You seriously can whip this up in 30 minutes on a weeknight and everyone will love it. What’s not to love? There’s cheese. There’s taco-ness. There’s pasta. Win-win.
First, boil some pasta until al dente, and it’s really important not to overcook your pasta because you’ll cook the pasta some more in the sauce later. When you drain the pasta, be sure to save some of the pasta water too. You can use any type of pasta. The original recipe uses macaroni, but lately, I’ve been using pasta shells because it has pockets to trap the sauce inside and I like that.
Now for a little lesson on chopping an onion. If you know about this trick, skip ahead. Otherwise, this will be life changing for you. I don’t know what I used to do before other than nick my fingers and end up with unequal pieces of stuff. Unfortunately, the onion will still make you cry, but let’s just pretend they are tears of joy.
Cut off the non-root end of the onion and then peel the skin off. Next, cut it in half through the root. Flat side down, cut in half towards the root.
Now, slice the onion lengthwise.
Finally, cut across and admire your handiwork.
After you’re done patting yourself on the back for you perfectly chopped onion pieces, you can apply your new trick to a jalapeño. If you want a spicier dish, include the membranes when you chop up the pepper.
Gather the rest of the ingredients and arrange them next to the stove you can dump them in the pan as you go.
Saute the onion and jalapeño. Add your ground beef. When that’s cooked, throw in your taco seasonings. Next, add the canned tomatoes. Fire-roasted are best, but you can use any type of canned diced tomatoes. Hopefully your pasta is done by now because you need some of that reserved pasta water too.
Drop in the grated cheese and let it melt. Stir.
Dump the cooked pasta in.
Stir it all up until the pasta is well coated and combined with the sauce. Dish it out, garnish with cilantro, and eat!
As you can see, it’s not mac and cheese, but your familiar and comforting pasta and meat sauce, enhanced with a bunch of cheese and taco seasonings. It makes great leftovers, but you might not have any. Instead, you’ll breakdown, have seconds, and soon it’ll be all gone.
Cheesy Taco Pasta
- olive oil
- 12 ounces pasta shells
- 1/2 large white onion chopped
- kosher salt
- 1/2 jalepeno chopped
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
- 15 ounces diced fire-roasted canned tomatoes
- 1 1/2 cups shredded jack cheese
- fresh cilantro chopped, for garnish
- Boil a large pot of water. Salt the water and then add the pasta. Cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain, saving at least 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Return pasta to the pot.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add onion and season with salt. Cook until tender, 5 minutes.
- Add jalapeño. Cook 2 minutes more.
- Add ground beef and cook until no longer pink, 6 minutes. Add taco seasoning. Drain fat.
- Add canned tomatoes and 1/4 cup reserved pasta water. Stir.
- Add cheese. Let it melt in while stirring occasionally for about 2 minutes.
- Add cooked pasta and toss until completely combined.
- Garnish with cilantro and serve.