Flavors of the Southwest—cilantro, lime, chili, and salsa—come together here on corkscrew-shaped macaroni. Chunky salsa works as a great ready-made sauce for pasta.
There are several brands of salsa on the market today. Choose according to your taste (mild, medium, or hot) and pick one of high quality; the finished dish will only be as good as your salsa. A smoked-chile variety would be a delicious possibility to try.
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- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
- 2 cups (one 16-ounce jar) chunky tomato salsa
- 3/4 pound cavatappi
- 2 teaspoons lime juice or red-wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro or parsley
- 6 ounces cheddar cheese, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
- lime wedges for serving (optional)
1In a large frying pan, heat the oil over moderately high heat. Add the ground beef and cook until browned, about 3 minutes.
2Stir in the chili powder, salt, and pepper. Add the salsa and simmer over low heat to allow the flavors to combine, about 10 minutes.
3In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the cavatappi until just done, about 13 minutes.
4Drain the pasta and toss it with the sauce, lime juice, cilantro, and 1 cup of the cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese and serve with wedges of lime if you like.