One-Pot Cheesy Taco Pasta | Ground beef and pasta shells simmered in a spicy, cheesy taco sauce. The perfect way to celebrate National Taco Day!
So I had another recipe all ready and raring to share with you guys today, and then I learned that today is National Taco Day, and it just seemed like that was the universe’s way of telling me that I needed to share this one with you instead.
You ever have one of those days where you’re kind of craving something, but you’re not really craving an exact thing? I know this sounds crazy, but just hear me out… Last week, I really wanted tacos for dinner, but I didn’t really want tacos, per se. I wanted something with taco flavor, but not actual tacos. Make sense? Ok probably not, but I’m pregnant and I don’t always make a whole lot of sense these days. But it made sense to me at the time, and isn’t that the important thing here?
Anyhow, I spent some time scouring Pinterest and my regular food blogs and stumbled upon a recipe for a cheesy taco pasta that just screamed “Make Me!” So I did. And it was glorious.
I loved loved loved this pasta. Like, couldn’t get enough of it. The leftovers were gone in no time flat and I already can’t wait to make it again.
I used a really spicy salsa (the hot version of Donkey Salsa) that gave me terrible heartburn, but it was totally worth it. But really, almost any salsa you happen to have in your pantry would work fine. You’re going to want to use a thinner type of salsa as opposed to a super thick and chunky salsa or a pico de gallo, because otherwise you’re not going to have enough liquid in the pan to make the sauce and the pasta will end up being too dry.
As far as the cheese goes, I used a manchego-type cheese, which is traditionally made in Spain from sheep’s milk, although mine was made from cow’s milk in Wisconsin. I happen to have a crap-ton of random cheeses in my refrigerator right now thanks to recently celebrating my hometown’s Cheese Days festival (which happens to be the best weekend of the year, as far as I’m concerned), and I’ll use just about any excuse I can think of to use some of it up.
Manchego is a firm cheese with a mild, creamy texture, and the cheese that I used (Roth Cheese Gran Queso, which is made in my hometown) was no different. The cheese helped to balance out some of the heat from the salsa, and made the sauce thick and creamy. If you can’t find manchego in your local grocery store, really any Spanish or Mexican style cheese would work fine (monterrey jack, for example). The point I’m trying to make here is, get some cheese in there (and really, isn’t this is the central theme to all my cooking?).
The other thing I loved about this recipe is that it all gets made in the same pan, which means less dishes to wash later, PLUS it only took me about 20 minutes to make, which means it’s the perfect dinner to make on busy weeknights, like tonight, on National Taco Day!
One-Pot Cheesy Taco Pasta
- 1 lb ground beef or ground turkey (I use ground turkey)
- 1 (1 oz) packet taco seasoning
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup salsa (You want to use a thinner salsa as opposed to a super-chunky or pico de gallo type of salsa)
- 2 cups uncooked medium pasta shells
- 1 1/2 cups shredded manchego cheese (If you can’t find / don’t want to use manchego, any kind of Spanish or Mexican cheese will do)
- Optional toppings: sour cream, chopped tomatoes, sliced avocado, black olives, sauteed peppers or onions, crushed tortilla chips
- In a large, deep skillet over medium high heat, brown ground beef. Once ground beef is cooked through, drain fat and return to stove top.
- Stir taco seasoning into ground beef, along with water and salsa. Bring to a boil and add uncooked pasta shells. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer until shells are cooked through, about 8-10 minutes (note: there should be some liquid left in the pan).
- Remove lid and stir in cheese.
- Serve with additional toppings, if desired.
Inspired by: Mother Thyme