Cheesy Beef Taco Pasta

All the flavors you love in beef tacos, transformed into a casserole with tender pasta and a delicious amount of cheese. I mean, c'mon, who doesn't want to dive in RIGHT NOW?

About the taco seasoning: We all need shortcuts every now and then, right? Taco seasoning is one of my favorite shortcuts in the kitchen! But, if you want to make your own spice blend, no problem. Just blend these ingredients in a small bowl: 2 tablespoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper. Remember to save a little of the spice blend for sprinkling over the top of the casserole before baking.

About the pasta: I used cool-looking campanelle, but any shape works. Rotini, elbows, penne, mini shells, you name it. And yes, gluten-free pasta works too.

Cheesy Beef Taco Pasta 

Cooking spray
1/2 pound lean ground beef
4 tablespoons taco seasoning of choice, plus more for sprinkling over top
15-ounce can tomato sauce
1/2 cup beef broth
12 ounces campanelle pasta, or any pasta shape
1 cup Mexican cheese blend, divided

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a baking dish with cooking spray.
Brown the beef in a large skillet over medium heat, breaking up the meat as it cooks. Add the taco seasoning and toss to coat. Add the tomato sauce and broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes (partially cover the pan if the mixture gets too thick - it should have the consistency of a thick chili).
Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package direction. Drain the pasta and reserve 1/3 cup of the cooking water. Add the pasta and cooking water to the beef mixture and toss to combine. Fold in 1/2 cup of the cheese.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.
Cover with foil and bake for 10 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10 more minutes, until the cheese is perfectly melted.
Serves 4