Week Eight – Taco Pasta Bake

I kept seeing Mexican Stuffed Shells pop up on my Pinterest and made numerous mental notes to give this a go. The recipe calls for jumbo pasta shells but I could not find these anywhere – is this a USA thing? Where in the UK stocks these? In the end I bought Lumaconi as it was the closest thing I could find, but it meant that this meal turned more into a pasta bake than stuffed shells, which I wasn’t too bothered about as during preparing this the number of people coming over increased so it worked out pretty perfect! 

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– Jumbo pasta shells, or Lumaconi, or any dried pasta! I think the shells work best as the mixture goes into the shell. 

– Taco seasoning

– 4oz (or 113g) cream cheese

– 1/2 cup of salsa

– 1 box of minced beef/1 bag of Quorn mince

– 1 cup of taco sauce (alternatively recipe below)

– 2 cups of cheese – I used a mixture of cheddar and mozzarella

Line the bottom of an oven dish with salsa. I was also making nachos so I got up super early and made guacamole, salsa, this dish, the taco sauce and the cookie dough! You just cannot beat homemade guacamole or salsa. Anyway back to the recipe – pop some salsa on the bottom of the oven dish and put that to one side. 

Brown your mincemeat – I used Quorn with this partly because I am very fussy about mincemeat but mostly because I am still on the not been paid yet hype and I already had some Quorn in the freezer. When the meat is browned add your taco seasoning as directed – I just used 1/2 of a pre bought packet mix, so I added this and some water. Once the water is absorbed add the cream cheese and cover until melted. Blend well and set aside. Whilst the meat is cooking put your pasta on – this doesn’t need to be as ‘done’ as usual as it’s going to sit in the oven for a good half hour. 

So pasta cooking, mince set aside, next up – taco sauce. I cannot find taco sauce anywhere. When I went shopping and couldn’t find this or the jumbo pasta I wanted I almost felt like just forgetting this recipe and finding something else to do. But help was in the comments of the (one of many) blogs I read for this recipe, and it said to make your own taco sauce was easy enough, adding a little taco seasoning to a tin of tomatoes. I decided to go with making the pizza sauce I made a few weeks ago and then added the seasoning to that. Blitz together a clove of garlic, around 3/4 of a box of cherry tomatoes, a tablespoon of chilli paste and around 3 tablespoons of tomato puree. Add this to a pan on a low heat and add the taco seasoning bit by bit. Once all combined take off the heat and leave to one side.

Your pasta should be ready now so drain and rinse under cold water. Lay the shells out on top of the salsa in the oven dish. Try laying them so the opening to the shells is facing upwards. If you are making this using the jumbo shells, spoon the mince mixture into the shells. If not, scatter the mince over the pasta instead. Then take your taco sauce and spread that across the mince. I remembered halfway through cooking that my mum cannot stand chillies so I sort of dotted it around leaving bits uncovered! 

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Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Then remove the foil and add your cheese, and bake for another 15 – 20 minutes, or until browned. 

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I really enjoyed this and it will definitely become a staple go to meal – I really want to get back into Meat Free Mondays but I really struggle deciding what meals to make, I’m glad I’ve found something new to enjoy Quorn Mince with because it always seems to be a boring old spaghetti and mince/ stuffed bell peppers! 

Have you got any good Quorn recipes? 

 

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