I’ve had this recipe on my “to make” list for months! I love to have salads ready as side dishes for grilling season and this one seemed ideal. It has a little bit of everything that we like. It seemed odd to have cold ground beef in the salad but when you think of a regular taco salad, the meat isn’t usually very warm anyway. I wanted to give it a try, and I’m SO glad I did!
Besides forgetting to add the shredded Mexican cheese the first night we ate the taco pasta salad, it was delicious anyway! The next night when the flavors had melded even more, I served it with shredded cheese and we loved it even more. You could add and subtract other vegetables or cheeses and it would adapt well. Red onions, diced sweet bell pepper, halved cherry tomatoes or even cubed cheeses are some ingredients that would fit well.
I started by having a pound of ground beef that I needed to cook up. I browned it well then added a can of tomatoes, cumin, garlic, chili powder and oregano. I let the meat mixture simmer for 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. I didn’t want it to cook dry; I wanted it still a bit wet. I set the meat aside in a container to cool then covered it and placed it in the fridge for the next day.
The next day I was ready to make my salad. I cooked the ring pasta al dente then rinsed it and let it cool. I could have used any small pasta but the rings seemed like a cute idea. Plus they were in the front of the pasta cupboard. Lazy.
I’d thawed about a cup of corn from last summer’s garden and placed it in a large bowl.
I added diced green onions and tomatoes.
I drained a can of black olives and added it to my salad bowl. I drained and rinsed the black beans well and pour them into the bowl as well.
My pasta was cooked and cooled and I added it to the bowl.
Finally I pulled the ground beef out of the fridge and added it to my salad, breaking it apart so that it would mix well.
I poured a pint of homemade salsa I’d canned last summer into the bowl.
I added seasonings and stirred well. The pasta seemed a bit dry yet so I added another pint of salsa. The pasta would soak up plenty of the liquid, I knew from past experience with pasta salads. I put the salad into a storage bowl with a lid and refrigerated it until dinner.
At dinner I served the salad in bowls topped with diced avocado. My P.S. (Partner in Sustenance/hubby) chose tortilla chips to dip in the salad. I chose Fritos.
We loved the salad! It was still pretty wet, almost like a soup, but that was fine. Still super delicious. Later when I wrote the ingredients into a blog I realized I’d totally forgotten to stir cheese into the salad. Ooops! So the second night I added the cheese and the salad was even better. By then the pasta had soaked up most of the salsa and it was slightly drier and more like a salad than a soup.
Note: My homemade salsa has lots of seasoning but very little heat. Between the seasoned beef and the salsa, the salad didn’t need a whole lot of seasoning. If you want more seasoning or heat, adjust your amounts according.
Taco Pasta Salad
- 1 cup ground beef
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 15 ounce can petite diced tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 cloves garlic; minced
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1 cup kernel corn (I used frozen from the garden)
- 1/4 cup green onion; thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup Roma tomato; diced
- 3.7 ounce can sliced black olives
- 1 can black beans
- 8 ounces ring macaroni; cooked al dente (I used half a 1 lb box)
- 4 cups salsa (I used a homemade salsa)
- 1 tablespoon dried cilantro (fresh would also work well)
- salt and pepper to taste
- diced avocado for garnish
- shredded Mexican cheese
- tortilla chips or Fritos
Brown ground beef seasoned with salt and pepper in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Drain and return to skillet. Add tomatoes, cumin, garlic, chili powder and oregano. Simmer for 30 minutes on medium low heat, stirring occasionally. Cool.
In a large bowl mix black beans, olives, onion, tomato, corn, macaroni, salsa, cilantro and ground beef. Stir well. Refrigerate to blend for several hours or even overnight.
To serve: garnish each serving with diced avocado and Mexican shredded cheese. Serve with tortilla chips or Fritos for dipping.
Adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything