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overhead shot of taco pasta with taco ingredients on top in casserole dish
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5 from 5 votes

Taco Pasta Bake

Cheesy taco beef baked underneath a crunchy tortilla chip layer then loaded with classic taco toppings - This truly is the ultimate taco pasta!!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time50 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: Tex Mex
Servings: 5
Calories: 522kcal
Cost: £2.50 / $3

Equipment

  • Large Deep Frying Pan & Wooden Spoon
  • Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
  • Zip Lock Bag
  • 9" x 9" Casserole Dish (or similar size)
  • Large Pot & Colander
  • Serving Spoon

Ingredients

Taco Pasta Bake

  • 1lb / 500g Ground Beef (10-12%)
  • 10.5oz / 300g Conchiglie (or other short cut pasta)
  • 1 cup / 250ml Low Sodium Beef Stock
  • 1x 14oz / 400g can of Chopped Tomatoes
  • 1 cup / 100g Cheese (see notes)
  • 1/2 cup Crushed Tortilla Chips or Hard Taco Shells, or as needed (see notes)
  • 3 tbsp Taco Seasoning
  • 1/2 medium Onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup Pickled Jalapeños, finely diced (optional)
  • 1 heaped tbsp Tomato Puree (Tomato Paste in US)
  • Olive Oil, for frying
  • Oil Spray, to top

Toppings

  • Sour Cream, to drizzle
  • Red Onion, finely diced
  • Tomato, finely diced
  • Avocado, diced
  • Lime, to serve

Instructions

  • Add a drizzle of oil to a large pan over medium heat and add onion (and jalapeños if using). Fry until they begin to soften & brown, then add beef. Break up with a wooden spoon and continue frying until nicely browned and fully cooked through.
  • Add in taco seasoning then stir in 1 heaped tbsp tomato puree. Fry for a few mins, then pour in 1cup/250ml beef stock and 1 can of chopped tomatoes. Deglaze the pan as necessary, give it all a good stir and allow to simmer on low-medium for 10-15mins until the sauce begins to thicken and the tomatoes have burst.
  • Meanwhile pop 10.5oz/300g pasta in salted boiling water and cook until JUST al dente (if it's properly cooked it'll turn soft and sloppy in the oven, you want it still a little hard). Just before draining scoop out a cup of the starchy pasta water. Pre heat oven to 200C/390F.
  • Combine pasta and beef with 1/3cup of starchy pasta water. Give it a good stir until everything is blended. The starchy water will help create a sauce, with the starch molecules emulsifying with the fat in the sauce. Stir in your cheese until nice and gooey, the pour into a casserole dish.
  • Top with crushed tortilla chips or hard taco shells (just enough to create a thin layer over the top fully covering the pasta). Spray with oil, then pop in the oven for 20mins, or until the top goes nice and golden. Be vigilant, top goes golden to burnt quickly.
  • Top with your favourite taco toppings (suggestions in ingredients list) and enjoy!

Video

Notes

a) What Cheese to use? - I usually go for equal quantities of cheddar, mozzarella and monterey jack. A bag of 'Mexican Cheese Blend' is always good if your supermarket/grocery store serves that. Any sort of 'melty' cheese works great.
b) Crispy Layer - I find the best way to crush the chips/tacos is to place them in a zip lock bag, squeeze out the air and just crush with your hands. You can also use a rolling pin. Alternatively you can blitz them in a food processor. Either way if you're using chips I recommend a neutral flavour and not too heavily salted.
c) Seasoning -  I of course recommend my Homemade Taco Seasoning. If you are using Jalapeños I recommend halving the amount of cayenne pepper (can add more later) just incase you find it too spicy. 
d) Calories - Based on using 1 tsp oil for frying, 1 cup monterey jack cheese, 1/2 cup crushed no added salt tortilla chips to top and no toppings taken in to consideration. Sharing between 5.

Nutrition

Calories: 522kcal | Carbohydrates: 56.78g | Protein: 29.29g | Fat: 19.5g | Saturated Fat: 8.33g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.77g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7.314g | Trans Fat: 0.49g | Cholesterol: 79mg | Sodium: 671mg | Potassium: 659mg | Fiber: 8.6g | Sugar: 2.39g | Vitamin A: 665IU | Vitamin C: 6.1mg | Calcium: 211mg | Iron: 3.57mg