I love old Westerns. I grew up watching reruns of Bonanza , The Big Valley, and Gunsmoke, not to mention old John Wayne flicks. Oh, and the amazing Clint Eastwood movies, too, but not until I was older. His Westerns were a bit more, shall we say, edgy! Definitely not for kids.
I feel very patriotic watching Westerns, somehow. While I know there were many atrocities done in the name of progress in the old West, there was also a lot of good development that made our country what it is today. There were families who escaped lifestyles of poverty and hopelessness by staking a claim in the West and working harder than we can even imagine working today, hoping for a better life. Many of them achieved that goal. That’s inspirational, in my book.
I love “Old West”-style food, too: ranch beans, spit-roasted pork, skillet cornbread, good hot chili, and the like.
I love all of that , but there’s something I love even more.
So, when I saw this wagon wheel pasta, I wanted to make something with it that was a bit unique. The wagon wheel shape is reminiscent of the campfires and covered wagons, so here’s a recipe that ties all of that in with pasta, for a fun dish that you might enjoy for a change, just occasionally, from the usual Italian pasta dishes.
Southwestern-style wagon wheel pasta
(adapted from a Better Homes and Gardens recipe)
- 1 package (16-ounce) wagonwheel pasta
- 2 teaspoons olive or canola oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 jalapeno, chopped (remove seeds for less heat)
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 TBS chili powder
- 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 28 oz. can stewed tomatoes
- 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
- 1 can (15oz) black beans, rinsed and drained (feel free to use two cans for added protein/fiber)
- 1 cup water
- shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese, for topping(optional)
- Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, for topping (optional)
- Cook wagon wheel pasta as label directs. Drizzle with olive oil and stir in after draining. Set aside.
- In 12-inch skillet or a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat until hot. Add onion, jalapeno and red pepper, and cook until tender and lightly browned (about 8 minutes.) Transfer to small bowl and set aside.
- In same skillet, cook ground beef over medium-high heat 3 -4 minutes or until browned, breaking up beef with spoon or spatula. Discard any fat from skillet. Stir chili powder, cocoa, cumin, cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon salt into beef in skillet; cook 1 minute.
- Return onion mixture to skillet; stir in stewed tomatoes, beans, and water. Heat mixture until it begins to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 5 minutes. Break up tomatoes as you cook if they seem too big for your taste. (I bought sliced stewed tomatoes. Handy!)
- Add chili mixture to the large pot containing the cooked pasta. Stir until well-combined. Top individual servings with cheddar and sour cream, if desired.
I hope that this keeps your family happy and full and that they love that you figured out something unique to do with pasta…that’s what my boys said to me tonight! They really liked it – let me know if you do, too.