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A close up image of the southwestern pasta in a white casserole dish.

Southwestern Pasta

Southwestern pasta makes a satisfying meal that will feed a crowd. In this recipe, rigatoni pasta is combined with ground beef seasoned with southwestern-inspired spice blend and simmered with tomatoes, black beans and corn. The pasta and sauce are combined, topped with cheese and baked until melted.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican & Southwestern
Keyword easy pasta dinners, taco pasta bake
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 593kcal
Author Elizabeth


  • 1 tablespoon Oil Use a neutral/flavorless oil with a high smoke point (we use canola oil)
  • 1 pound Ground Beef we used beef round
  • ½ tablespoon Chili Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Salt plus 1-2 tablespoon for the pasta water
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes or to taste, optional
  • 1 (28 ounce) can Diced Tomatoes
  • cup Beef Broth
  • 1 (15 ounce) can Black Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 ounce) can Corn, drained and rinsed
  • 16 ounce Rigatoni Pasta
  • 8 ounces Colby Jack shredded (or Monterey Jack Cheese, Cheddar Jack, etc.)
  • Hot Sauce for serving - optional


  • You will also need: Large casserole dish and a large baking sheet

Make the sauce

  • In a small bowl combine the chili powder, garlic powder, 1 teaspoon salt, cumin, black pepper and crushed red pepper, if using. Stir to combine.
  • Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat; add the ground beef, and the prepared seasoning mix. Stir the ground beef well to combine with the spices.
  • Arrange the beef in one layer and cook for 3 minutes.
  • Stir well and arrange in one layer again. Cook for an additional 3-5 minutes until the meat is browned and there is little or no liquid left in the pan.
  • Add the diced tomatoes, beef broth, black beans and corn to the skillet. Stir to combine.
  • When the sauce comes to a full boil, lower the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the liquid is boiling vigorously, lower the heat just a little; keep the sauce at a simmer.

While the sauce cooks

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1-2 tablespoons of salt to the water. Cook the pasta to package directions for al dente. Drain and reserve until the sauce is done.

Build the casserole

  • When both the pasta and ground meat sauce combine them in the larger of the two pots. Stir well to combine.
  • Add half of the mixture to the casserole dish.
  • Sprinkle with half the shredded cheese.
  • Add the remaining pasta and top with the remaining cheese.
  • Bake the casserole for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly.
  • Serve the pasta with hot sauce, if desired.


  • This recipe was previously made with ground turkey and chicken broth. To revert to the old recipe: substitute equal amounts of lean ground turkey (not turkey breast) for the beef and use chicken broth instead of beef broth. The remaining ingredients and instructions remain the same.
  • Place the casserole dish on a large baking sheet just in case it bubbles over.


Calories: 593kcal | Carbohydrates: 63g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 67mg | Sodium: 1113mg | Potassium: 773mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 570IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 274mg | Iron: 5mg