Last night when I got home from work, I stood in the kitchen, staring into space, trying to think of what to make for dinner. I’d just gone grocery shopping for some pantry staples, but I couldn’t decide between tacos and spaghetti. We were out of tortillas (I forgot about those while I was at the store), so tacos were a no, and I honestly just wasn’t feeling spaghetti. So I decided to meet in the middle and make a Taco Pasta Bake.
This is one of my favorite recipes. Pretty easy to make, I generally have the stuff I need on hand, it’s quick and delicious and makes enough for several days of leftovers; yay, lunches!
I originally found the recipe here while searching for recipes on Pinterest, and have adapted it to suit our taste.
1 box of pasta (I prefer penne or ziti)
1ish lb of ground meat (I used turkey this time, instead of beef)
1 envelope of taco seasoning (use your judgement here; sometimes I dump in a second one as well for extra flavor)
Water (to mix with taco seasoning)
1/2ish pkg of cream cheese (again, use your judgement)
1-2 cans of black beans
Crushed red pepper (as much or as little as you want)
As much shredded cheese as your heart desires. Mine desires A LOT.
Take a picture of all your ingredients. Not even a very good one! Any picture will do. Then get yourself a drink, and put some water on the stove to boil. Once it starts to boil, add pasta and some salt. Preheat the oven to 350.
While the pasta is cooking, brown the meat of your choosing. Once it’s cooked through, add taco seasoning and water (the original recipe wants 1c of water, but I never measure when I add water to taco meat; I just move the pan under the faucet and and add as much or as little as I want), add red pepper flakes and let it simmer for a few minutes.
After a few minutes, add cream cheese to the beef and stir it in until it’s nice and creamy.
Let it simmer some more, add some more red pepper flakes if you want. Go crazy!
While everything merrily simmers away, grate some cheese. I don’t personally care for store-bought grated cheese; I think the texture is a bit off-putting and it doesn’t melt as nicely as I’d like. I always just grate a whole big bunch of cheddar cheese and call it a day.
This isn’t even half the amount of cheese I used. I like a LOT of cheese.
Add the pasta to a greased glass baking dish. (I think mine is 7×11?) I’m honestly not sure if greasing is necessary or not, but I always grease them just in case.
Now is a great time to open your can(s) of black beans, drain them and rinse with cold water. Add them to your meat-mixture, then pour it all over the top of the pasta.
Admittedly, I forgot to mix the beans in with the meat, instead opting to pour them on top of the pasta, then pouring the meat on top. I don’t think it really matters.
Also, I never said this was a pretty dinner…but it tastes really good, I promise.
Take a big spoon and mix everything around in the baking dish.
I don’t know if that make it look better or worse…
Now cover it in cheese.
This is the part where the dogs have the hardest time NOT begging like starved fools.
We feed them, I swear.
Pop that beauty in the oven for 30 minutes (uncovered), go watch an episode of Friends and drink a glass of wine while you wait. You deserve it.
Once it’s done, take it out of the oven (duh), and stir it around in the baking dish.
I’d recommend waiting a few minutes to eat it unless you want the roof of your mouth burned off, but that’s just my prerogative.
I paired my dinner with an Angry Orchard, because NOMZ, and ate every bite.
So, yeah. That’s about it. It’s delicious and easy! It’s not a beautiful meal, but it’s absolutely goddamn delicious. Adapt as you see fit, and enjoy!