New Mexico Baked Pasta Shells…..yummy!
Many years ago, when I lived in Wachatchie, Texas …pronounced WOK-Sah-hat-chee…(boy, the locals get upset if you pronounce it Wax-say-hat-che)…
Anyway, tucked away in a little corner of a “Y” street (or as we call it, a fork in the road)…there was a tiny little hole in the wall cafe.
I have forgotten the name of it over the years…and sadly, it has since been removed from the Fork as part of a “progress” (widening of the roads)
But there was a little Spanish lady, who has (I am sure) passed on as she was elderly back then….but she could really make Mexican food.
Her little cafe could only seat about 12-15 people, but the cafe was packed every Saturday night. (Back then, most people cooked at home during the week and Friday and Saturday night was a time to “get paid” and go out to dinner and do the weekly grocery shopping.
A simpler time…
One Saturday, a late afternoon for me….I was headed to the grocery store and as I came to the Fork, … I always slowed down because there was not a stop sign in sight…and as I slowed down, I saw the little Mexican lady sweeping off the small cement “porch” of her little cafe.
I knew the cafe was not open yet, but even though I was running a little behind my regular “earlier in the day weekly shopping”, I decided to stop and talk to her.
Even when the little cafe was very busy….(people would line up outside the door and down the “Y”…they parked wherever they could find a bare spot of grass behind the little cafe) …no matter how busy she was cooking…she would peek out at her customers, from the small rectangular window and wave her weathered hand, always a big smile.
I pulled into a parking space and was greeted with the same huge smile that I had seen on so many Saturday nights.
I asked her if she was too busy to talk…and of course she said, no..she needed a break. So we sat on the lawn chairs that lined up along the cement pad and of course I talked about food.
This recipe is an adaption of one she talked about and let me taste that afternoon.
It was not made for the restaurant clientele, but only for her family. I think the reason was that it was not really a local dish, at least not one that would be expected of a Mexican family…it was “semi” Mexican.
The “semi” part was pasta.
Not tortillas! Surprise! 🙂
She replaced the tortillas with macaroni….almost like a Mexican Goulash.
I have taken her ingredients, (nothing was written down)…and decided to use the jumbo pasta shells and stuff them, rather than layer them with the macaroni as she did.
The Captain loves this casserole….but then he likes everything I cook….Sigh! I am so blessed.
Below is the printable recipe and pictures to show you the steps.
Using the jumbo shells…
Add them to boiling salted water….I just love this little asparagus cooker….it is great for cooking these big shells…
After cooking for about 10 minutes….remove to cool
Meanwhile, Chop the onion into a small dice….
Add a minced clove of garlic…
Heat small amount of Olive Oil
Saute the onions and garlic in olive oil…
Add ground sirloin to the skillet and stir with a fork to break into small pieces.
Add the spices…
As little or as much as you desire…..
Combine the refried beans and the ground sirloin and heat…..
Stuff the shells….hopefully not all over your fingers….:)…not that there is anything on my fingers! 😉 and what is with the blue thumb?
As full as you want them to be….;) work carefully so they don’t fall apart….they really are pretty sturdy if not cooked too long. I have heard of a green thumb….but blue? Hmmmmmmm? Blame the camera…that is always the first choice. It appears I should have used photoshop! 🙂 I know you are smiling!
Add 1/2 of the enchilada sauce…straight from the can….why not? 😉
Place the shells into the baking dish…you can crowd them if you like…..
Add desired amount of cheese to each shell…this can also be done while filling, but it is just as easy to add to the shells as they stand up…well, not really standing!
Pour the remainder of the enchilada sauce over the shells…..
Sprinkle about a cup (or more) shredded cheese over the top…I like the “Or more” ….;)
Bake inn 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes…
Remove from oven and… after reaching the browning you like….I did remove these a little early..because sometimes the photos look “overdone”..and they say the camera never lies! Hrumph!!!!!
Doesn’t this look yummy? ooey-gooey cheese…..
See? I stuck them in for a little bit more browning….;) I cannot tell a lie….;(
AND, I cut the recipe in half and used a 8 inch square baking dish!
Not feeding the neighbors today….
Well, I would but they are on vacation! 🙂
Enjoy…Make it a great Tuesday!
New Mexico Baked Pasta Shells
A delicious easy to make casserole with that wonderful Mexican Flavor but with a twist....instead of tortillas, I have substituted jumbo pasta shells and stuffed them with refried beans, ground sirloin and Mexican cheese. Yummy
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- Jumbo Pasta Shells
- 1 lb ground sirloin (or you can substitute ground turkey)
- 1 medium chopped onion
- 1 clove of minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground chile powder
- 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon of ground chipotle powder
- 1 teaspoon of paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
- 1 can refried beans (or you can make your own)
- 1 can of enchilada sauce (I like Old El Paso, hot...but you can use mild or medium if you don't care for too much spicy)
- 2-3 cups grated Mexican Cheese or you can use cheddar
- Cook the Jumbo pasta per instructions on the box...but do not overcook (overcooking makes for fall apart pasta shells)
- Drain and place on paper towels for easy working.
- In a large skillet, saute the onions and the garlic.
- Add the ground sirloin, using a fork to break up the pieces
- Add the spices...
- The chili powder, cumin, chipotle powder, red chili flakes, and paprika
- Blend with the ground meat and cook for another 5 minutes
- In a medium sized bowl, combine the cooled ground meat mixture and the refried beans
- Using a 9 X 13 baking dish....add 1/2 of the enchilada sauce to the bottom
- Carefully, stuff the pasta shells with the ground beef and refried beans...adding pinches of grated cheese to your preference.
- Line the stuffed shells in the sauce until you have the desired amount of stuffed shells.
- Pour the other half of the enchilada sauce over the shells
- Add as much grated cheese as you would like, covering the shells
- Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until the cheese is melted to your liking and the sauce is bubbling up over the shells.
- Serve with a garden salad if desired
- This recipe can be adjusted up or down, by increasing or decreasing ingredients. If you do not want "spicy"...cut back on the chile powder and red pepper flakes.
- This is a great recipe and keeps very well
- It is simply delicious the next day!
Me and My Captain https://meandmycaptain.com/