Taco Pasta Salad is a protein-packed salad filled with lean ground beef and lots of vegetables.
This Taco Pasta Salad has become one of our favorite lunches. It can easily be prepared ahead of time to be enjoyed throughout the week. The tender, flavorful beef is combined with all the vegetables and a little pasta (topped with cheese, if desired). The result is a healthy, protein-packed meal that is easy to make!
To make this Taco Pasta Salad, I start by getting the pasta cooking. You can use any small to medium shape you prefer. I like to use medium shells because delicious chunks of taco salad get nestled inside the shell, like mini stuffed shells, taco-style, While the pasta is cooking, I move on to the preparing the next steps of the salad. For the taco meat, I use this family favorite recipe – Lighter Beef Tacos. Lean ground beef is browned with sautéed vegetables, which not only adds incredible flavor, but also a nice tenderness to the meat.
Next I toss together the salad greens with any other desired vegetables (usually halved cherry tomatoes).. Sometimes I use a traditional taco accompaniment – just plain lettuce. More often I use spinach or mixed greens because that I what we have on hand. Either way works just fine.
When it comes time to serve, simply toss the taco meat with the pasta and salad greens. Top with shredded cheese or some salsa, and you have a delicious Taco Pasta Salad that is perfect for lunches, an easy dinner, or any time! The parts of this Taco Pasta Salad can be prepared separately and/or ahead of time. I typically keep everything separate until assembly and reheat the taco meat, as I prefer it warmed.
- 4 ounces pasta (I use medium shells)
- 3 cups spinach, roughly chopped (or any salad greens)
- ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese, plus additional for topping
- 1 teaspoon oil (I use canola oil)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 bell peppers, chopped
- 1 cup water
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 11/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- salt and pepper, as desired
- PASTA: In a large sauce pan, cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- TACO MEAT: In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium. Add onion and peppers, and cook for about 3 minutes. Add 1 cup water, turn heat up to medium-high and cook until water has mostly evaporated and vegetables have softened.
- Turn heat back down to medium, and stir in garlic, tomato paste, chili powder, cumin. Add beef, breaking it up with a spoon or spatula, and cook thoroughly (until no longer pink). Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste.
- ASSEMBLE: Put chopped spinach in a large serving bowl. Add taco meat, cheese and cooked pasta. Toss to combine. Serve with additional shredded cheese, crushed tortilla chips, salsa, or any other favorite taco toppings!
Take the 30 Day Protein Challenge!
For Sunday Supper today, we are joining the Beef Checkoff to create protein-packed recipes featuring beef in an effort to inspire you along the way to completing the 30 Day Protein Challenge! The 30 Day Protein Challenge is a fun step-by-step way to make sure to get optimal protein each day. You will receive daily emails with goals, tips and inspiration to keep you on track.
There are many benefits to getting adequate protein in your diet. Protein-rich meals can help build muscle and reduce body fat, can help you feel satiated longer (meaning less mindless grazing throughout the day!) which can also help promote weight loss/maintenance, and so much more. This infographic does a great job of highlighting many benefits of protein.
Here are some simple ideas for sneaking protein in your diet throughout the day – top your salad with a fried egg, sprinkle nuts or seeds on top of a salad or even more morning oatmeal. Keep this Protein Cheat Sheet handy to help maintain a pantry stocked with protein-rich foods.
I am looking forward to taking the challenge with my family. Want to join us? Find out more about the 30 Day Protein Challenge here.
For more delicious protein-packed recipes featuring beef, be sure to visit the wonderful Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner recipes by my blogger friends below. Each of these recipes contains 25-30 grams of protein per serving.
Start your day deliciously:
- Avocado Crostini with Beef and Eggs by Whole Food | Real Families
- Beef and Cheddar Quiche by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
- Beef Migas by Shockingly Delicious
- Chicken Fried Steak and Eggs by Bobbi’s Kozy Kitchen
- Mexican Shredded Beef Breakfast Burritos by Magnolia Days
- Philly Cheesesteak Breakfast Wrap by Family Foodie
Power up at lunch:
- Beef Gyros by Peanut Butter and Peppers
- Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches by Serena Bakes Simply From Scratch
- Shaking Beef Cobb Salad by Nosh My Way
- Flank Steak and Caramelized Onion Flatbread by In The Kitchen With KP
- Taco Pasta Salad by Alida’s Kitchen
- Ultimate Mushroom Swiss Patty Melt by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
- Yam Nuea Yang (Spicy Thai Beef Salad) by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Make a fantastically satisfying Sunday Supper:
- Bacon Cheeseburger Quinoa Skillet by Cupcakes & Kale Chips
- Beef Tenderloin with Ratatouille by Recipes Food and Cooking
- Beef Teriyaki Kabobs by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Gochujun (Korean Stuffed Pan-fried Peppers) by kimchi MOM
- Pan Seared Steak with Garlic Butter by Life Tastes Good
- Whisky Marinated Skirt Steak with Chimmichurri Sauce by Food Done Light
- Spinach Stuffed Steak Pinwheels by The Dinner-Mom
Get your knife supply ready:
- Four Essential Knives by the Sunday Supper Movement
For these recipes and more, be sure to follow the Sunday Supper Protein Packed Recipes Pinterest board
Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.
Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.
This post is sponsored by The Beef Checkoff. All opinions are my own.