Hi all! How's spring going for you? Life here has finally settled down a bit and I am getting to spend more time cooking. Rainy spring afternoons make me want to run into my kitchen and experiment with whatever I happen to have on hand. I can great pretty creative on grey days if it means avoiding going out in the rain and getting soggy. I have made some pretty interesting changes to recipes in the name of staying comfy and dry; we aren't taking about something as simple as swapping spinach for kale it's more like completely changing a dish and hoping for the best. Do you take culinary risks in the name of laziness?
This week's recipe seems a little "out there" but I promise that everything works together. I have been on a pasta kick lately, and have been taking several risks with my ingredients. So far, much to my surprise, my experiments have been working out rather well. Unfortunately sometimes I just get really into what I am doing and I forget to write anything down. I did learn from my mistakes and luckily I wrote down the ingredients for this casserole which was based off of my Mexican Lasagna.
This recipe is super versatile and is easy to whip up. I made the dish the day before I wanted to eat it then just popped it into the oven to bake right before dinner. In terms of substitutions you have a lot of wiggle room with this recipe. If you eat meat then throw some cubed chicken breast or ground beef in. Feel free to swap out black beans for kidney or pinto beans if you have those on hand. Add in some corn, spinach or chopped jalapeno instead of the zucchini. I used cheddar cheese, but jalapeno jack would be a good addition. If you have neither than marble or Colby would also work. I personally think that cavatappi is a fun pasta shape because it's a spiral, but if you can't find it any short tube shaped pasta will work just as well. You can use gluten-free pasta here if needed.
Cheesy Mexican Pasta Bake
4 Cups Cavatappi Pasta
1.5 Cups Tomato Sauce
1.5 Cups Salsa
1 Red/Yellow/Orange Bell Pepper, Diced
1 Can (540mL) Black Beans, Rinsed and Drained
0.5 Bunch Cilantro, Washed and Chopped
1 Tsp Cumin
1 Cup Grated Zucchini, Drained
1.5 Cups Grated Cheddar Cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Cook pasta according to package directions, set aside
Mix salsa, tomato sauce and cumin
Add in peppers, zucchini, beans and cilantro
Combine sauce, half the cheese and pasta, stir well
Grease a casserole dish
Add in pasta mixture
Top with the remaining cheese
Cover and bake for 20 minutes
Uncover and bake for another 5 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and gooey