Mexican Pasta Bake

Mexican Pasta Bake

Serves 4-6
1 pound brown rice fusilli pasta (or any)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound extra lean ground beef, pork, or turkey
1 large onion and red bell pepper, diced
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons dried chili powder
1½ tbsp each paprika powder and cumin
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tsp each sea salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons Mexican-style hot sauce (can omit)
1 (14.5oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (15oz) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3 tbsp chopped cilantro, plus more for topping
1½-2 cups shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 375°F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles to a little bit under al dente. Reserve one cup of the cooking liquid and strain. Meanwhile: In a large nonstick skillet, add the oil and when hot, brown the meat. Add in the onions and bell pepper and saute until the onion starts to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and saute for 1 minute, stirring occasionally, until fragrant.
Mix in the spices and hot sauce and cook for 2 minutes to develop the flavor. Add in the tomatoes, beans and ½ cup of water. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 5 minutes and then add in the cilantro.
When the pasta is finished, strain and return back to the pot. Dump the meat mixture in and mix well. Pour into a casserole dish and top with the cheese.
Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked through and the cheese is bubbly! Top with more cilantro, if desired.

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