Mexican Beef and Pepper Pasta

May 3, 2010  •  Meat & Poultry, One Dish Meals, Pasta & Pizza

You’d think after spending three weeks on a culinary journey that I’d be inspired in the kitchen. Instead, this past week I keep finding I’m dragging myself in there, staring at the refrigerator, and wishing the waiter would arrive soon to take my order. Yesterday I decided a week was long enough to pout and I got busy again.When you buy meat from a rancher directly, you end up with a fair amount of ground meat, so I’m going to focus on that for awhile. That’s good news to any of you trying to pinch pennies in this challenging economy.This recipe starts with an onion – I had a red one on hand, but any onion will do, just dice it up into a rough dice (you want to be able to see the vegetables in this pasta dish).Then add in diced peppers – I had a mix of mostly green with a few yellow mixed in still in the freezer from last year’s fall harvest, so I was happy to use them up. Frozen work as well as fresh in this recipe so use ’em up if you got ’em!Saute those together in the pan with some olive oil, then remove them to a plate and brown the ground beef in the same skillet. Add the peppers and onions back to the pan with the meat……then add tomato sauce and diced tomatoes (frozen, canned or fresh) along with a good heaping of minced garlic.I also found this odd mix of pepper pieces in the refrigerator, remnants of my daughters’ cooking last week (she left for CA yesterday for the month and I miss her already) so I threw them in as an afterthought. I kept the seeds in the jalapeno when I minced it up for a little kick – do what you like on your end, but I think a little heat in this dish is a good thing.Finally, add some corn (frozen or fresh) and Mexican seasonings – chili powder, cumin, coriander, chipotle pepper – along with some salt and pepper. You could also add beans to this recipe – black or pinto would be great – and it would help stretch the meat further plus add great nutrition.From here you can go several ways with this dish – I tossed it all with some fusili pasta served with some grated cheddar cheese for topping. You could also roll this filling up into tortillas, top with cheese, and bake. You could even use the beef and pepper mixture to stuff eggplant or zucchini if you’re trying to up your vegetables. The recipe is for a large batch – eat half for dinner tonight and freeze the rest for another round used in another way. Can I say something? It actually felt great to be creating something in the kitchen again, serving my husband while we watched 24, photographing the dish. I miss Italy, but home is pretty great too!

Mexican Beef and Pepper Pasta
Serves 8

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 cups diced peppers (any color or a mixture)
1 jalapeno, minced (with or without seeds)
2 pounds ground beef (or bison or turkey)
1 14-oz. can tomato sauce
1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups corn kernels
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
1-2 teaspoons salt (depending on whether your tomatoes had salt in them or not)
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 pound fusili pasta, cooked and drained
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (or more if you like!)

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and peppers and cook until slightly softened. Remove to a platter and add ground beef to skillet; cook until browned. Return peppers and onion to the pan and add tomato sauce, tomatoes, garlic, corn, and seasonings. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes for flavors to meld. Just before pasta is completely cooked, add it to the skillet and cook for one minute in the sauce. Serve with grated cheese on top.

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