Cheesy Taco Pasta
By Kelli Bamforth
Even though it’s still officially summertime, I’ve already mourned the loss of the season and am already looking forward to fall and everything cool weather brings: boots, sweaters, crunching leaves, gorgeous scenery — and comfort food.
Something about this warm and cheesy pasta dish just makes me want to curl up on the couch with a blanket and watch mind-numbing primetime soaps. The recipe reminds me of childhood favorite Hamburger Helper but isn’t made from a box. The amount of cheese would almost make me feel guilty, but I substituted 2 percent for the entire amount (the original recipe calls for half 2-percent, half full-fat cheese) and it still resulted in a deliciously cheesy flavor.
I would definitely make this again but would maybe add some stewed tomatoes or black beans to bulk it up a little more. The flavors are perfect, but I did feel as if it was missing something. Adding a dollop of sour cream on top is a nice touch, too.
The recipe makes six servings and each serving is a generous cup. A single serving paired with a side salad would make a complete meal, and with virtually no prep time, the dish is perfect for a busy weekday night.
Cheesy Taco Pasta
Source: slightly adapted from EmilyBites.com
8 oz pasta (I used Barilla whole grain medium shells)
1 lb 96 percent lean ground beef
1 oz packet reduced sodium taco seasoning
1 ½ cup chunky salsa
½ cup water
¼ cup fat-free sour cream
1 ½ cup shredded 2 percent reduced-fat cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cook pasta according to package instructions. While pasta is cooking, place ground beef in a large sauté pan and cook over medium-high heat, breaking up the beef as it cooks. When the beef is cooked, drain any grease from pan. Add the taco seasoning, salsa and water, and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for five minutes or until pasta is done cooking.
Once pasta is done, drain pasta and add it to the beef mixture. Add the sour cream, cheese, salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Cheese will melt when thoroughly mixed. Remove from heat and serve immediately.