I think there is a theme developing here at The Food Life, and I’m not mad about it:
It started with taco bowls. Then there was burtacos. Now I’d like to introduce you to tacos + macaroni = tacoroni.
Like most pasta dishes, this is a great weeknight meal that comes together in 45 min from start to finish. It combines taco flavours with ground meat or alternatives with vegetables, pasta, tomato sauce, and cheese. It’s versatile, so feel free to add beans, use beans instead of meat, add extra vegetables, change up the cheese, etc. etc. So simple and so yum.
1 16-ounce box pasta with short noodles, such as macaroni or rotini
1 tbsp neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed
1 lb ground meat, such as extra lean beef or turkey, or meat alternative
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
3 cloves garlic, minced or crushed in a garlic press
1 jalapeno pepper, minced (I find this recipe isn’t spicy, but if you’re sensitive omit or use half)
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dried Mexican oregano (or regular oregano)
2 cups strained tomatoes, or tomato sauce
2 bell peppers, any colour, diced
2/3 cup grated cheddar cheese (or vegan queso could work, for those going vegan)
1/2 tsp salt
To garnish – avocado slices, sour cream, cilantro, grated cheese
Fill a large pot of water and set on the stove to bring to boil.
Heat oil in a medium Dutch oven or large pot (use one a bit larger than you normally would, as you are going to add the pasta and everything else in at the end), and add meat, onion and carrot. Cook mixture, stirring occasionally, until browned and beginning to caramelize. The brown bits are where the best flavour comes from, so don’t be afraid to get some colour on it. Then, add the garlic and spices and stir, and let it cook for 1 minute more.
Add tomatoes/tomato sauce, and bell peppers, stir well to mix, and cook for about 20 min on low heat with the lid on but partially ajar. Stir every five minutes or so.
Once the mixture has cooked for about 10 min or so, and the pasta water is boiling, add the pasta and cook according to the package directions minus one minute (so if the package calls for 10 minutes, cook it for 9 minutes).
When the pasta is finished cooking, reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, and drain the pasta. Immediately transfer the pasta and the pasta water to the tomato/meat mixture. Turn the heat up to medium high and allow the mixture to cook, stirring continuously for 1 minute.
Remove from heat, and stir in the cheese and salt. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if it needs it.
Divide into bowls, garnish, and serve. Makes great leftovers too!