Savory Southwestern Pasta Casserole with a Twist

 

Southwestern Pasta Casserole

Southwestern Pasta Casserole is a creamy mixture of pasta, spinach, cream cheese, meat or poultry, tomato sauce, onions and cheese. The “twist” is the ability to transform this recipe into various modifications of the original recipe to suit your particular ingredient preferences and/or to use the ingredients you happen to have available at the time.

Southwestern Pasta Casserole is equally delicious when made with ground beef, ground turkey or chopped cooked chicken. If you want to make this a meatless meal, don’t add meat at all. The pasta can be whatever pasta you like even though the original recipe specifies penne. (I used rigatoni in my version.) If your family doesn’t like spinach you could leave it out or substitute a vegetable acceptable to them in its place.


The original recipe called for green onions but my preference was to sauté some chopped onions and bell pepper together in olive oil and add them to the casserole. I like mild green chilies in anything “southwestern” or “Tex-Mex” so I added a can of green chilies to this casserole and left out the olives that were in the original recipe, although I’m sure the olives would add another layer of flavor. The original recipe called for picante sauce but I just used a larger can of tomato sauce, which worked fine with the mild green chilies, to give a similar flavor profile.

The Recipe

Southwestern Pasta Casserole
Serves 8
A savory, versatile recipe including meat or chicken, pasta, spinach, cream cheese, tomato sauce, spices and topped with shredded cheese.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
50 min
Ingredients
  1. 8 ounces uncooked penne
  2. 1 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, cubed
  3. 1/2 cup milk
  4. 1 pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  5. 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  6. 1 lb. ground beef or turkey OR 3 cups chopped cooked chicken
  7. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  8. 1 16-oz. jar picante sauce
  9. 1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
  10. 1 6-oz. can tomato paste
  11. 2 teaspoons chili powder
  12. 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  13. 1 small can green chilies
  14. 1/2 onion, chopped
  15. 1 bell pepper, chopped
  16. 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  3. Cook onion, bell pepper and garlic in olive oil. If using, add ground beef and cook until browned.
  4. Stir in the picante sauce, tomato sauce, tomato paste, chili powder and cumin. Heat thoroughly.
  5. In mixer beat cream cheese with milk, oregano and green chilies. Stir in spinach.
  6. Stir spices, sauces and pasta into meat mixture.
  7. Mix meat mixture with spinach mixture and pour into a greased 13" x 9" x 2" baking dish.
  8. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes.
  9. Uncover; sprinkle with shredded Cheddar cheese and bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.
  10. Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving.
Notes
  1. Variations: Add 1 can sliced ripe olives (2.24 oz. can), use 1 lb. ground beef or turkey OR 3 cups chopped cooked chicken, use your preferred grated cheese (Mexican blend, Monterey Jack, etc.)
SILVER FOODIE http://www.silverfoodie.com/

The Methodology

While the pasta is cooking, cook the onion, bell pepper and garlic in olive oil until vegetables are tender.

Add ground beef or ground turkey, if using, and cook until browned. In a mixer beat cream cheese with milk and green chilies. Stir in spinach. I had leftover fresh spinach that I steamed until it wilted then added it to this mixture, instead of using frozen spinach. Add spices, sauces and pasta into the meat mixture. If using chicken, mix it in at this time. Combine mixtures and pour into a greased 13″ x 9″ x 2″ baking dish.Cover the casserole with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes in a 350 degree F. oven. Uncover the casserole and top with grated cheese. Return the casserole to the oven for 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Allow the casserole to stand 5-10 minutes before serving.

Parting Comments

In addition to sharing a tasty recipe with you, my intention in this post is to encourage you to be adventuresome in your cooking. Don’t be afraid to change up the ingredients in a particular recipe based on what ingredients you have available and/or your family’s food preferences. Even the spices can be changed. I have a recipe that calls for Jerk Seasoning, which I didn’t have, so I used Garam Masala, an Indian spice that I did have, and the dish turned out so delicious that I’ve never yet made it with Jerk Seasoning. It was serendipitous! (If you’re unfamiliar with that word, it means making a fortunate discovery accidentally!)

I hope you’ll try making this recipe soon as it is or give it a twist and make it YOUR way!

Remember to Savor the Flavor!

Janet

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Husky Delight – A Connecticut Casserole

What is Husky Delight?

Husky Delight is a casserole, named after the University of Connecticut athletic teams, the Huskies!  Husky Delight is a hearty, satisfying casserole of ground beef or turkey, tomato sauce, egg noodles, sour cream, cream cheese, chopped onions, green chilies and cheese.

I’ve always enjoyed looking at magazines and copying recipes that sound good to me and I bet you do that, too! During my years as a dietitian in various healthcare facilities, I liked to look at recipes in some of the magazines that came to the Food Service Manager, such as Food Management and Food & Institutions. These magazines were specifically for food service and the recipes were “quantity” recipes which could yield anywhere from 25-100 servings. Occasionally the quantity recipes would also include a smaller version of the recipe.

The recipe for Husky Delight was one that residents of a long-term care facility where I worked seemed to enjoy. A Food Service Director or Manager from the University of Connecticut sent in this recipe to one of these food service magazines and our Food Service Manager added it to the menu. The recipe for Husky Delight has been adapted for home use by decreasing and changing a few of the ingredients.

The Methodology


The steps to making Husky Delight are first to brown ground beef or turkey in a skillet. Add garlic powder, salt, sugar and pepper as well as tomato sauce after the meat has browned. Pour off any grease from the meat before adding the other ingredients.

Cover the meat mixture and allow it to simmer for 15 minutes. While the beef is cooking, cook the noodles according to package directions.

In a bowl, combine sour cream, cream cheese, onions and green chilies. (I used green onions the day I took these photos.)

Grease or use pan spray on a 2-quart casserole dish. Place a layer of noodles on the bottom of the casserole dish.

Add the meat sauce on top of the noodles.

Add the cream cheese mixture on top of the meat sauce and top with cheese of your choice. The original recipe called for Parmesan cheese but I used some sliced Provolone that I had on hand in the photo.

Bake at 350°F. for 30 minutes until Husky Delight becomes bubbly.

The Recipe

Here’s the printable recipe:

Husky Delight Casserole
Serves 6
A hearty casserole featuring ground meat, tomato sauce, noodles, cream cheese, sour cream, green chilies and cheese.
Write a review
Save Recipe
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 lb. ground beef or turkey
  2. 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  3. 1 teaspoon salt
  4. Dash pepper
  5. 2 (8-oz. can) tomato sauce
  6. 6 ounces egg noodles
  7. 4 ounces cream cheese
  8. 1 cup sour cream
  9. 1/3 cup chopped onions (or green onions)
  10. 1 (2-ounce) can mild green chilies
  11. Parmesan cheese or other cheese to top the casserole
Instructions
  1. In a skillet brown meat; drain grease. Add garlic powder, salt, sugar, tomato sauce and pepper. Mix together and cover; simmer 15 minutes.
  2. While beef is cooking, cook noodles according to package directions. Drain & set aside.
  3. In a bowl, combine cream cheese, sour cream, onion and green chilies.
  4. Butter or use pan spray on the inside of a 2-quart casserole dish.
  5. Place a layer of noodles on the bottom of the casserole dish.
  6. Add the meat sauce on top of the noodles.
  7. Spread the cream cheese mixture over the meat sauce.
  8. Top with Parmesan cheese or cheese of your choice.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes, until bubbly.
SILVER FOODIE http://www.silverfoodie.com/

Parting Comments

Husky Delight is a recipe in which you can vary the ingredients to your choosing. Instead of noodles, use your favorite pasta. Use your favorite cheese instead of Parmesan, or use what you have on hand. The sour cream and cream cheese give this recipe a creamy richness. Husky Delight is a great casserole to take to family gatherings, church socials or pot-luck suppers and to add as a “comfort food” entrée to your menu rotation for the month! Make some Husky Delight soon!

Remember to Savor the Flavor!

Janet

*If you’d like to receive new Silver Foodie posts automatically, please enter your e-mail address under Silver Foodie on the right sidebar. Then click on “Sign up”  Thank you!

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