GINNA PARSONS: Recipe combines family favorites

GINNA PARSONS

GINNA PARSONS

There are two dishes that always please in my family: baked cheese spaghetti and homemade tacos. So when I came across a recipe that combined the two, I figured I had hit on a winner.

I got an email last week with a couple of dozen recipes for jazzing up pasta – taking it past the traditional spaghetti and meatballs. This One Pot Taco Spaghetti was one that caught my eye.

I was a little leery of adding three cups of water to the mixture. I realized the dry pasta had to cook in something, but I just thought that was going to be too much water. I read reviews of the recipe before trying it, though, and folks who had made it said as long as you bring the mixture to a true boil and let it simmer for at least 15 minutes, the liquid will evaporate.

I worried for nothing. This dish turned out perfectly and we all enjoyed it. As my husband, Charlie, said, you think you’re going to be eating baked cheese spaghetti, but then you take a bite and you get that taco flavor.

The original recipe called for ground beef, but I used lean ground turkey to make it a bit more healthful. I also cut the cheese in half, from a total of 1 cup, to a half-cup and I think it was still a gracious plenty.

So what do you serve with this? Garlic bread? Chips and salsa? I chose a simple green salad.

One Pot Taco Spaghetti

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound lean ground beef or turkey

1 package taco seasoning

1 can Ro-tel tomatoes

1 tablespoon tomato paste

8 ounces spaghetti

3 cups water

1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1 Roma tomato, diced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

Heat olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add ground meat and cook until browned, crumbling as it cooks. Stir in taco seasoning. Add Ro-tel, tomato paste, spaghetti and water. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer until pasta is cooked through, about 13 to 16 minutes, and the liquid has been absorbed. If the mixture is soupy, you haven’t cooked it long enough. Remove from heat and top with cheeses. Cover until melted, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately, garnished with tomato and cilantro.

Serves 4 to 6.

Ginna Parsons is the Daily Journal’s food/home/garden editor.

Click video to hear audio