WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS: We started by sautéing an onion and garlic with bell pepper, chili powder, and cayenne; this helped bloom the spices’ flavors and took down their raw, harsh notes. Next, we added ground beef to the pan to jump-start its cooking. A can of tomato sauce and some water made our meat sauce saucier, and provided ample liquid to cook the pasta. Because this wouldn’t be a Tex-Mex dish without corn and green chiles, we stirred in both once the pasta was done, along with a cup of shredded Mexican cheese blend. After sprinkling more cheese on top, we slid the pan in the oven just long enough for it to melt into an ooey, gooey layer. If you can’t find shredded Mexican cheese blend, substitute 1 cup each shredded Monterey Jack cheese and shredded cheddar cheese.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped fine
1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound 90 percent lean ground beef
2 cups water
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
8 ounces (2 cups) elbow macaroni
1 cup frozen corn
1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles
8 ounces shredded Mexican cheese blend (2 cups)
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Heat oil in 12-inch ovensafe nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and bell pepper and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.
2. Stir in garlic, chili powder, and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in beef, breaking up meat with wooden spoon, and cook until no longer pink, about 1 minute.
3. Stir in water, tomato sauce, and pasta. Cover, increase heat to medium-high, and cook at vigorous simmer, stirring often, until pasta is tender, 9 to 12 minutes.
4. Off heat, stir in corn, chiles, and 1 cup cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup cheese evenly over top. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until cheese has melted and browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.
Find this and other great pasta recipes in our Pasta Revolution cookbook.