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Spicy Mexican Pasta Bake

This is cosy, comfort food at its best! The beauty of this recipe is that you can completely customize the outcome: use ground beef, pork, or turkey; hot jalapeños or mellow green chilies; mild or zesty salsa; more or less Tabasco; etc., etc.. It can be made ahead and baked when needed and it makes fantastic left-overs — or double for a crowd!

Spicy Mexican Pasta Bake

1 tbs. olive oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 large or 2 small red peppers
1 yellow pepper
2 chili peppers of your choice, deseeded and finely chopped (we used 1 large green and 1 small red)
1 lb. ground meat (we used pork)
6 tbs. taco seasoning (1 package)
1 tsp. oregano
½ tsp. chili flakes
14 oz. tin chopped tomatoes
14 oz. tin black beans, rinsed and drained
6-8 tbs. salsa
5 fl. oz. beef stock
Tabasco, to taste
12 oz. penne
7 oz. grated cheddar cheese (2 cups)
fresh cilantro, to serve
sour cream, to serve

Heat the oil in a large casserole over a medium heat and add the onions, peppers, chilies, and garlic. Season and cook for 4-6 minutes to soften. Add the ground meat, taco seasoning, oregano, and chili flakes. Cook, stirring until the meat is cooked. Stir in the tomatoes, beans, salsa, stock, and Tabasco. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350°F. Cook the pasta per package directions and drain. Stir the pasta into the meat mixture, check seasoning. Sprinkle with the cheese and place in the oven for  20 minutes. (Add 10 minutes if made ahead and chilled.)

Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with sour cream.


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