Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Quick and Easy Taco Pasta Skillet

Any meal that starts off with the words "quick and easy" instantly has a place in my heart. When those dishes are also packed full of flavor and are super tasty, it's a match made in heaven.

I am a total taco junky, but sometimes I just don't have the patience to prepare all the toppings, and the meat, and the tortillas. There are times when I just want to be able to face-plant right into taco goodness without all the mess.

I think this Quick and Easy Taco Pasta Skillet is just the ticket. This is an absolute crowd pleaser. I tried lightening this dish up by using low fat cheddar cheese, ground chicken, a low-sodium taco seasoning, and Ronzoni Garden Delight pasta. This is a really easy way to sneak an extra 1/2 servingof vegetables into your dinners (by the way -- this post is NOT sponsored! I just enjoy this pasta...)

Pasta noodles are mixed into the browned ground chicken along with a can of petite diced tomatoes, sweet whole corn kernels, taco seasoning, and a few dashes of Frank's Red Hot. A hearty helping of grated cheese goes down on top before the whole skillet is popped into the oven to melt that cheese into a lovely cheese blanket. Has anyone made a cheese blanket yet? No? Well, then.

To finish this dish and add a little freshness, I chopped up a bit of cilantro to garnish the whole skillet. Individual servings can be trashed up with a dollop of sour cream, a few chunks of fresh avocado, or a bit of salsa over the top. If I were eating this skillet alone, I would have also added a can of drained and rinsed black beans. Yes, yes, yes.

Here's what you need for Quick and Easy Taco Pasta Skillet* (Print Recipe!)

12 ounces uncooked garden delight or whole wheat pasta
1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
1 small onion, diced
1 pound ground chicken
1 envelope low-sodium taco seasoning (or your favorite seasoning of choice)
1 14.5 ounce can petite diced tomatoes (preferably no salt added)
1 14.5 ounce can whole sweet corn, drained
a few dashes to taste of Frank's Red Hot (or hot sauce of choice)
1/2 cup or more low-fat shredded sharp cheddar cheese
handful fresh cilantro, chopped

Here's what you do

Cook pasta according to instructions on box, draining about 1 to 2 minutes earlier than the recommended cook time for al dente.

In a 12-inch cast iron skillet, or other large ovenproof skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until transluscent, about 2 minutes. Add the ground chicken. Cook until browned and crumbly.

Sprinkle in the taco seasoning and stir to coat the chicken. Stir in the diced tomatoes, corn, and hot sauce. Bring to a gentle boil then reduce heat to low. Carefully stir in the pasta, being sure to mix thoroughly. Turn off the heat then sprinkle on the cheese. Pop the skillet into a 375 degree oven for about 5 minutes until the cheese is completely melted and the filling is bubbling gently. Garnish with fresh cilantro. Allow to sit about 5 minutes before serving.

*Gas Stove Girl Original Recipe

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