It is a vegetarian recipe because, well, we are vegetarians. However, you could use ground beef or ground turkey if you are so inclined. If you are a cheese fan, go ahead and add some cheddar or pepper jack. Either would be delicious.
Do you have kids (or other picky eaters) who don't like to mix foods together? No problem there, either. You could have a scoop of pasta, a pile of black beans, a cairn of corn kernels, and maybe some mild salsa or cherry tomatoes on the side. Easy peasy. If the picky eaters prefer a different type of pasta, that works too. Wagon wheel shapes are equally appropriate for a Tex Mex Pasta, in my opinion.
Tex Mex Pasta is a yummy chili-like sauce smothering some curly rotini noodles. You could top it with cilantro, a squeeze of fresh lime, sour cream, diced avocado, shredded cheese, or any combination of these. It is also equally delicious all by itself.
This is a good recipe to use up leftover veggies in the crisper; you could use a red pepper, green pepper, or half of each. While sautéing the peppers, feel free to add sliced mushrooms, diced carrots or celery, chopped onion, diced potatoes or sweet potatoes, or anything else you have on hand. In all honesty, I have even resorted to frozen pepper-and-onion stir fry mix, or frozen potatoes O'Brien (with the diced onions and peppers mixed in). We do what it takes, right?
As far as the beans are concerned, I prefer black beans in this recipe, but last night I ended up throwing in half a can of chick peas that was leftover from another recipe. Pinto beans, kidney beans, or cannellini would all be outstanding substitutions, too.
Tex Mex Pasta
Serves 4-6 (depending on how hungry you are)
1 box whole grain rotini
1 bell pepper, diced
4 oz. diced green chilies (or 1 fresh jalapeno pepper, diced, veins and seeds removed)
2 c. meatless crumbles (such as Lightlife Smart Ground or Morningstar Farms Grillers Recipe Crumbles)
16 oz. black beans, rinsed and drained
1 c. fresh or frozen corn kernels
2 -16 oz. jars of your favorite salsa
fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
lime wedges for serving (optional)
1. Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Cook according to package directions, and drain.
2. Meanwhile, in a second large pot spritzed with olive oil or cooking spray, saute diced bell peppers over medium heat about 5 minutes. Add diced green chilies and meatless crumbles; stir to combine and heat through, about 3 minutes.
3. Add black beans, corn, and salsa. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Lower heat and let simmer about 5 minutes.
TIP: If young chefs want to help in the kitchen, they can combine the beans, corn, and salsa in a bowl and stir them together for you. It's not really necessary, but sometimes you just have to find something they can do to help.
4. Combine drained pasta with the sauce. Toss well and serve with fresh cilantro and lime wedges for squeezing, if desired.
If you have a lot leftover, Tex Mex Pasta is wonderful reheated for lunch or "Leftover Night." It also freezes well; just scoop into freezer-safe containers or zip-top bags and slide them right into the freezer. Enjoy! And as always, thanks for reading.