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Mexican Pasta Bake With Ground Beef

If you can’t decide between a bowl of pasta and a Mexican casserole with crispy, golden, melted cheese on top, this quick and easy Mexican pasta bake with ground beef is made for you.

This fusion of an Italian pasta bake and Mexican cuisine comes together with lovely rigatoni in a tomato sauce with ground beef joined by bell peppers, zucchini, black beans, sweet corn and plenty of golden baked cheese on top.

If you love quick pasta bakes, make sure to check out my Healthy Greek pasta with feta, eggplant and spinach or my easy tortellini casserole with ricotta!

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A serving of a Mexican pasta bake with ground beef, beans and corn served with fresh herbs.
This pasta bake combines a Italian pasta bake with Mexican flavors.

About this Recipe

A Mexican pasta bake with ground beef – well, that my friend is comfort food at its best. But what if I tell you that this casserole is even healthy?

Yeah, no kidding, despite the ground beef, pasta, and lots of cheese, we can keep this pasta bake not only wholesome, but also calorie friendly. To archive this we only need to follow these three simple tips.

  1. Hidden veggies: I LOVE to sneak vegetables in my pasta dishes. With a tasty sauce, some cheese and plenty of pasta you won’t even notice the greens in there. And if you have to please very picky eaters cut the veggies extra small.
  2. Elevate the fiber content: By choosing a whole-grain alternative instead of regular pasta, we increase the amount of fiber in our dish. Not only does this help our digestion, but it also keeps us fuller longer.
  3. Save some calories: This step is optional, but if you want to save some calories simple choose some calorie-friendly, fat-reduced products like fat-reduced cheese and lean ground beef. But if you just want a delicious pasta bake, forget this step and just go with regular ground beef and your favorite kind of cheese.
A serving of a Mexican pasta bake with ground beef, beans and corn served with fresh herbs.
Mexican pasta bake with ground beef, beans and corn

Ingredients 

  • ground beef: Depending on your preferences you can use a 95% lean ground beef, a ground beef with a higher fat percentage or a vegan or vegetarian alternative like impossible plant-based beef or beyond beef
  • garlic and a small onion for lots of flavor and as a base for our tomato-beef-sauce
  • zucchini and a green bell pepper for those Mexican vibes
  • whole grain pasta of your choice – Feel free to choose your favorite type of pasta here. Since I love rigatoni the most, I opted for whole grain rigatoni.
  • strained or crushed tomatoes for the sauce – choose a brand that doesn’t taste too acidic.
  • black beans and sweet corn – Since we like things quick and easy, we choose canned beans and corn.
  • some salt and a Mexican spice blend for seasoning – go with whatever spice mix you have on hand or what is available in your grocery store.
  • shredded cheese like gouda, cheddar, mozzarella or a fat-reduce cheese mix.

The exact measurements can be found in the recipe card below. They will make about four servings, but feel free to halve or double the amounts, depending on how many servings you want to make. 

Please note, I always base portion sizes on my personal dietary needs (presumably those of the average woman). However, you or perhaps one of your fellow eaters may need more or less than I do. So, feel free to adjust.

Ingredients for a Mexican inspired pasta bake with ground beef.
Ingredients for the Mexican pasta bake

Substitutions and Variations 

If you prefer to keep the casserole meat-free, you can easily substitute the ground beef for a vegetarian alternative. I tested the recipe with Aldi’s Wonder Ground Beef, which worked wonderfully.

Instead of zucchini and green bell peppers, feel free to use another vegetable of your choice, such as broccoli, carrots, yellow or red bell peppers. 

As an alternative to black beans, you can easily use kidney or pinto beans. If you don’t like corn, you can simply omit it and use a little more beans instead. 

How to Make this Recipe

Preparations: Before we start chopping and cooking, we need to preheat our oven to 200°C or 400°F. Bring a pot of water to a boil, then add the pasta. However, don’t cook it al dente, but drain the pasta two to three minutes earlier than indicated on the package. 

Cooked Rigatoni pasta in a colander.
Don’t cook your pasta al dente but drain it two or three minutes earlier.

Sauté the vegetables: Meanwhile, you can already wash and chop your zucchini and bell pepper. In a pan, sauté the vegetables with a teaspoon of oil for about 5 minutes on medium-high heat. Meanwhile, peel and finely dice the garlic cloves and the onion.

Sauté the ground beef: Once the vegetables are nicely soft and slightly toasted, transfer them to a plate or bowl and set aside for a moment. Then add the minced meat to the pan with another teaspoon of oil. 

Fry it until it’s nicely crumbly and then add the minced onion and garlic and sauté until translucent. Now you can season it with your spice mix and some salt and then you put the vegetables back into the pan.

Process shot showing vegetables, beans, corn and ground beef in a pan.

Ground beef sauce: Now it’s time to lower the heat and add the tomatoes, beans and corn. Let the sauce simmer for a few minutes before stirring in the pasta and transferring it to a casserole dish. 

Bake the pasta casserole: Now spread your cheese all over the pasta and put the casserole in the oven for about 15 minutes. As soon as the cheese is melted and a little golden brown on the top, the pasta bake is ready to serve.

Here’s How to Save this Recipe or Make It in Advance

If you like to make an extra serving for next day’s lunch, well, this recipe is made for that. Or am I the only person how loves leftover pasta bakes?

So, feel free to prepare the double amount and put the leftovers in the fridge. Just put them in a airtight container before. This way you can also take it to the office and warm it up in your microwave during lunch break.

Mexican pasta bake with ground beef served in a casserole dish.

Your Common Questions Answered

In case there are any questions left, I hope these FAQ will help you. If not, feel free to drop your question in the comments below.

Which kind of cheese should I use for pasta bake?

Any cheese that melts well is great. Gouda, Emmental, mozzarella and cheddar are certainly always good choices. If you want to save some calories, you can also use a fat-reduced grated cheese or light mozzarella.

How long does the casserole need in the oven?

As a rule, 15 minutes should be enough. Basically, the casserole is ready when the cheese is melted and golden brown on the top. 

How long can I keep leftover pasta casserole in the fridge?

Packed in an airtight container, pasta bake leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to three or four days. To reheat, you can either put them in your microwave, back in the oven, or reheat the leftovers in a pan.

Save for later

Click the pin button and add the recipe to one of your Pinterest boards. This way you can also easily bookmark the recipe for later. The pin button will appear as soon as you hover over the picture. 

Click the pin button in the upper left corner and add the recipe to one of your Pinterest boards.
Click on the button in the upper left corner to save this Mexican pasta bake recipe for later.

You might also like:

I hope you like this Mexican pasta bake with ground beef and that you give it a try soon. If you have any further questions or suggestions, feel free to drop them in the comments, or send me a massage via email at contact@julesbalancedrecipes.com or Instagram (@julesbalancedrecipes). 

In case, you’ve tried this recipe, I’d appreciate your comment and rating for this recipe. It’s easy to do via the comments section below this post and it would mean the world to me.

And if you loved this recipe, you may also link some of my other pasta recipes! 

Have fun trying it out and bon appétit,
Jules

A serving of a Mexican pasta bake with ground beef, beans and corn served with fresh herbs.

Mexican Pasta Bake

Julia Schmitt
A simple tomato sauce with ground beef is served with lovely rigatoni, sautéed zucchini and bell peppers, some black beans and corn. Topped with plenty of golden-brown cheese this fusion of Italian and Mexican cuisine will make everyone happy. 
No ratings yet
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course casserole, Main Course
Cuisine Italian, Mexican
Servings 4 servings
Calories 455 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 large pan
  • 1 saucepan (with lid)
  • 1 casserole dish

Ingredients
  

  • 200 g whole wheat pasta e.g. rigatoni (≈ 7 oz)
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 2 tsp canola or olive oil
  • 400 g (95% lean) ground beef or a plant-based option (≈14 oz)
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp Mexican spice blend *
  • salt
  • 120 g canned black beans (≈ 4 oz)
  • 70 g canned sweet corn (≈ 2.5 oz)
  • 400 g Strand or crushed tomatoes (14 oz)
  • 80 g shredded cheese (3 oz or ≈¾ cup) e.g. Gouda, Cheddar, Mozzarella or a low fat shredded cheese

Instructions
 

Pasta

  • Preheat the oven to 200°C or 400°F. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the pasta and drain it two minutes earlier than indicated on the package instruction.
    Cooked Rigatoni pasta in a colander.

Vegetable and Beef Sauce

  • Meanwhile, wash the zucchini and bell pepper and cut them into small cubes or slices. In a pan, add 1 tsp of oil and sauté the vegetables over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
    Process shot showing sautéed bell pepper and zucchini pieces in a pan.
  • Once the vegetables have developed a slight roasted flavor, remove them from the pan, set aside and then add the ground beef along with the remaining oil. Fry until it’s brown and crumbly. Meanwhile, peel and finely dice the onion and garlic.
    Process shot showing browned ground beef in a pan.
  • Add them to the pan once the beef is nicely browned, season with salt and your Mexican seasoning and sauté until the onions are translucent.
    Process shot showing browned ground beef, onions and garlic in a pan.
  • Rinse the beans thoroughly and add them to the pan alongside the corn and the sautéed vegetables. Reduce the heat and add the tomatoes. Stir well and let the sauce simmer for about 2 minutes.
    Process shot showing vegetables, beans, corn and ground beef in a pan.

Pasta Bake

  • Add the pasta and transfer the mixture an oven proof baking dish. Sprinkle the cheese on top and place it in the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown.
    Process shot showing pasta in a tomato beef sauce with vegetables and beans.

Notes

*Alternatively, a mixture of cumin, ground coriander, cayenne powder, sweet and smoked paprika powder.
Nutritional values per serving:
  • calories: 455 kcal
  • fat: 12.2 g
    • saturated fatty acids: 2.3 g
  • carbohydrates: 45.7 g
    • sugar: 7.8 g
    • dietary fiber: 6.8 g
  • protein: 37.2 g

Nutrition

Calories: 455kcal
Keyword ground beef, pasta bake, whole wheat pasta
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