Looking out over the vistas, staring up at the clear starry skies, it’s easy to become enchanted by the American Southwest. Southwestern Casserole takes that magical feeling and converts it into a cheesy, savory dinner. With classic chile spices and buttery, melty cheese, Southwestern Casserole is a meaty take on traditional mac and cheese. This dish will cast a spell on you with the very first bite.
Ingredients• 2 cups (8 ounces) elbow macaroni, uncooked • 2 pounds ground beef • 1 large onion, chopped • 2 cloves garlic, minced • 2 (14 1/2 ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained • 1 (16 ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste • 1 (4 ounce) can green chiles, chopped and drained • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt • 1 teaspoon chili powder • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin • 1/2 teaspoon pepper • 2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Grease 2 (2-quart) baking dishes.
Cook the macaroni according to the package directions.
While the pasta cooks, in a large saucepan, cook the beef and onion over medium heat in a large skillet on the stove-top, crumbling until the meat is no longer pink.
Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Drain the excess liquid from the skillet.
Stir in the diced tomatoes, kidney beans, tomato paste, green chiles, salt, chili powder, cumin, and pepper.
Bring the mixture to a boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
Drain the macaroni, and stir it into the beef mixture.
Transfer the macaroni mixture to the prepared baking dishes.
Top the casseroles with the Monterey Jack cheese and jalapeños.
Cover and bake for 30 minutes.
Uncover the casseroles and bake until both are bubbly and heated through, about 10 minutes longer.