HI friends!!! I’m alive and back in the blogosphere!Sinus surgery went well; after a week of recouping on the couch (WOW does that get boring) and a few days (including our first ever snow day!!!) of slowly getting back into work at the center post surgery, I’m starting to feel like a normal person. There’s definitely still some healing to do, and it’ll be a few months until I start to the full effects of the surgery kick in but, if all goes well, I’ll finally be a normal person, with normal sinuses that doesn’t get sick and stay sick for months on end. Mostly, I can’t wait to have the stamina of a normal, healthy, 29 year old and not that of a 70 year old.
But enough about that. I want to get back to discussing my favorite subject…food!!! Let’s jump in with this Vegetarian Southwest Pasta Bake.
I actually patterned this dish after my Southwest Chipotle Salad a couple years ago at work for the kids. I wanted the same flavors but in a more substantial, warm, cheesy version and figured they’d enjoy it more than a salad. Spoiler: They most definitely do (it’s probably the cheese ????). Even a picky eater finds something to love in this Vegetarian Southwest Pasta Bake.
In case you haven’t noticed, I tend to use my Mexican Spice Blend in most of my dishes that are inspired by Mexican cuisine. I found I was almost always using the same spices in those recipes so instead of constantly measuring out each one for each separate dish, I’ll make a batch of the spice blend and save it for later. SO much easier and quicker than constantly measuring out a bunch of different spices. Generally, I do have a shaker full on hand but if you can’t find all those spices, go with the basics: garlic powder, ground cumin, ground black pepper, and chili powder. Toss those into this Vegetarian Southwest Pasta Bake and you’ll be in business!
Also, casseroles are just so easy. Easy prep, easy clean, filling, and delicious. I especially enjoy the part where you just dump everything into a baking dish, top with cheese (because obviously) and bake until warmed through. They’re particularly great for baking and saving for a rainy day! Not gunna lie, I’ve definitely got two batches of this particular recipe in my freezer for whenever I just want to be lazy. Throw it in the oven to reheat and voila! Dinner is served. What could be easier??
PS. It’s also really easy to change this Vegetarian Southwest Pasta Bake from vegetarian to vegan, just omit the cheese!Print
For the Bake
- 1 lb rotini pasta
- 30 ounces canned black beans, drained
- 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 2 small roma tomatoes, cored and diced
- 16 ounces medium picante sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Mexican spice blend
- 3 cups shredded Mexican 4 cheese blend
- 1 avocado, diced
- Cilantro, green onion to garnish
For the Homemade Mexican Spice Blend
- 2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon Mexican oregano
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 400˚F. Grease a 9X13 casserole dish.
- Make the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook rotini to al dente according to box instructions. Drain.
- In a large bowl, combine cooked pasta, black beans, corn, bell pepper, tomato, picante sauce, spice blend and 2 cups of the cheese.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and evenly distribute. Top with remaining cheese.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, until warmed through and cheese is melted.
- Top with avocado, cilantro, and green onion.