Mexican Baked Pasta / Tex Mex Baked Pasta

This is a delicious, kid-friendly meal that can be made ahead for quick weeknight meals.

Mexican Baked PastaThis is a delicious, kid-friendly meal that can be made ahead. I created this recipe for the Bissell Centre’s Collective Kitchen program, to create a meal that fits restricted budgets while providing big flavour. If you watch for sales and stock up on cheese, (the pricier item you can keep in the freezer), this meal for 8 people costs only $10. Click here for the printer-friendly version.

1 tbsp oil
1 large onion, diced
2 tbsp Mexican chili powder (not ground chili, but the kind with cumin, etc. to make chili)
2 cups water
156 ml tin of tomato paste, no sodium added
1 1/2 tsp granulated onion
1 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 tsp oregano leaves, dried (optional)
1 tsp chili flakes (optional, less or more to taste)
1/2 tsp sugar, honey, maple syrup or agave nectar
1/2 tsp salt (less or more to taste)
540 ml tin black beans, drained and rinsed (or pinto beans, kidney beans or chickepeas)
2 cups corn, frozen
450 gr tube pasta – penne, rigatoni, tortiglioni, ziti, etc.
250 gr sour cream or Greek yogurt (regular or low-fat but not non-fat)
250 gr shredded Cheddar cheese
6 green onions, sliced (separate the dark green slices from the white and light green ones)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lightly oil a 9×13 baking dish or baking pan.
  3. Place a large pot of water on the stove to boil for the pasta.
  4. In a medium pan or pot, fry the the oil until softened and just starting to brown.
  5. Add the Mexican chili powder and stir cook a minute or two until fragrant.
  6. Add the water (careful – it will bubble and steam), tomato paste, salt and pepper (if using), oregano (if using), sugar and chili flakes (if using). Stir to combine.
  7. Bring the sauce to a bubble, then add the beans and corn, reduce heat and let the sauce simmer 20 minutes.
  8. When the water comes to a boil, add the pasta and cook until al dente (which means until just slightly firm to the bite).
  9. Strain the pasta and pour it back into the empty pot off the heat.
  10. Add the sour cream to the pasta and stir to coat.
  11. Add half of the cheese and the white/light green slices of the green onions and stir to combine.
  12. Add about half of your cooked sauce to the pasta and stir to combine well.
  13. Scoop the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish.
  14. Evenly spread the remaining cooked sauce over the noodles in the baking dish.
  15. Top with the remaining cheese.
  16. Bake about 25 to 30 minutes until the cheese melts and pasta starts to turn golden. About 10 minutes from the end of cooking, sprinkle with the reserved sliced green parts from the green onion. Return to the oven to finish baking.
  17. When finished, remove from oven and let sit about 10 minutes before portioning. Serve with a beautiful green salad.

Tips, Suggestions & Information

  • Tube pasta gives the illusion of having a large serving, while actually providing a healthy serving of pasta.
  • I like rigatoni or tortiglioni, but ziti or penne also work well.
  • This pasta dish freezes really well so you can cook it ahead, cool completely, portion and freeze.
  • You can also make all the components and let them cool completely. Assemble them cold, cover with foil or plastic wrap and freeze to be baked later. Defrost overnight and then bake as you normally would.
  • If using dried beans, soak and cook, then drain before using.
  • Use black beans, red beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, chickpeas or lentils. 
  • More heat? Add more chili pepper flakes or minced serrano, jalapeno or habanero pepper for bright heat.
  • If your budget allows, add 2 cups of diced mixed bell pepper (red/green/orange/yellow – your choice)
  • Want to amp it up a bit more? Use 1 cup diced bell pepper and 1 cup diced poblano pepper for a gentle heat.
  • Divide among individual baking dishes and evenly distribute the cheese and green onions.
  • Vegan option: omit sour cream and cheese, and double the amount of beans or lentils.