Vegetarian Taco Pasta – This yummy Southwest pasta recipe is loaded with black beans, corn, veggies, and a simple enchilada sauce that’ll put a fun spin on your next taco night! (Gluten-Free, Vegan-Friendly)
Anyone else relying on pantry staples a bit more than usual lately? We’ve been cooking our way through some of our pantry & freezer stores while we’re home, and this yummy taco pasta has been a BIG winner at our house.
Packed with color, yummy Tex-Mex flavors, and plant-based protein, my vegetarian taco pasta makes a great budget-friendly pantry meal to rely on when time is short, money’s tight, or you don’t want to make a trip to the store.
Here’s what you need to make this Southwest pasta dish…
HERE’S WHAT GOES INTO MY TACO PASTA:
SMALL PASTA (MINE’S GLUTEN-FREE). I love to keep most of the ingredients the same size for this baked taco pasta, so I use small pasta shapes, like elbow macaroni, shells, or rotini. (Gluten-free? See the FAQ for our favorite brands!)
BLACK BEANS. Black beans add some fiber and plant-based protein to our taco pasta. I love them here!
BELL PEPPERS. For some color & more veggie goodness, I add bell peppers. Use whatever color you like for this recipe (or mix & match!)
FRESH OR FROZEN CORN. Corn + black beans pair together to make a more complete source of protein. I like to buy organic frozen corn (it’s usually pretty affordable!) and keep it on hand for recipes like this, but you can certainly use fresh corn when it’s in season. (FYI – frozen corn has a nearly identical nutritional profile to fresh, so it’s a great option in the off-season!)
GREEN ONIONS + CILANTRO. For some color and to round out the flavor, I like using a combination of green onions & cilantro. If you’re not a cilantro fan, feel free to skip it, or you can add fresh parsley.
CHEESE OR DAIRY FREE CHEESE (OPTIONAL). If you like, you can top this with shredded cheese or dairy-free cheese. (We’re dairy-free and usually just skip it, but the only dairy-free cheese we like is Daiya Cutting Board Cheeses. Note: we don’t like their other shredded cheeses. Look for the “cutting board” designation if you plan to use it!)
YUMMY WAYS TO CHANGE UP THIS VEGETARIAN TACO PASTA
I love this Southwest pasta recipe as it is, but it’s always fun to play with recipes! If you’re looking for some ideas to mix it up, feel free to try one of these add-ins or swaps!
- BLACK OLIVES. If you’re an olive fan, some sliced black olives can be fun. I know they’re not everyone’s thing, but if you love ’em, this is a great application! (I wouldn’t recommend green, kalamata, etc.)
- GREEN CHILES. If you’d like a bit more kick, you could certainly add a can of green chiles (we like mild ones, when we use them). Or, go big and add a little finely minced jalapeño!
- SPINACH. If your kids (or spouse!) aren’t too picky, this pasta is a great way to fit in some greens. A few handfuls of spinach added to the warm pasta (before you add the other veggies) will cook down nicely in the oven.
- ADD CHICKEN. For the non-vegan or non-vegetarian folks, you could certainly fill this out a bit more with a cup or two of shredded, cooked chicken!
- SWAP IN TACO SEASONING. If you’re in a rush, you could swap 2 1/2 tsp. of taco seasoning for my seasoning blend in the quick enchilada sauce. The flavor won’t be quite the same, but it’ll still taste good!
FAQ + TIPS & TRICKS FOR PERFECT TACO PASTA:
PRO TIP: SLIGHTLY UNDERCOOK YOUR PASTA BEFORE BAKING. I recommend slightly undercooking your pasta initially (especially if you’re using gluten-free pasta) because the pasta will continue cooking in the oven as it bakes. You’re looking for just a slight bite, but certainly no crunch (just take it out 1-2 minutes earlier than the package directions).
OUR FAVORITE GLUTEN-FREE PASTA BRANDS. Speaking of gluten-free pasta, I like this best with brown rice pasta. Tinkyada and Jovial brands are our two favorites. You’re just looking for a small shape, like elbow macaroni, shells, or rotini (spirals).
CAN I USE PRE-MADE ENCHILADA SAUCE? Technically yes, but you might end up with a dish that’s spicier and saltier than the one I make with this quick enchilada sauce. It’s up to you!
YUMMY WAYS TO TOP THIS TACO PASTA. I love that this Southwest pasta is loaded with veggies and goodies. It’s also fun to top with even more goodness! Besides the optional dairy or non-dairy cheese, you can try adding…
- Diced Avocado
- Green Onions
- Minced Cilantro
- Sliced Black Olives
- Jalapeño Slices
- A drizzle of Tomatillo Ranch or Cilantro Lime Ranch
- (For dairy folks:) Sour Cream
LOVE THIS SOUTHWEST TACO PASTA? YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE…
- How to Make Instant Pot Black Beans (Vegan)
- Vegan Taco Pasta Salad (Different vibe + great for summer!)
- My ULTIMATE Guide to Guacamole (Vegan)
- The BEST Fish Tacos
- Sweet Potato Black Bean Tacos (Vegetarian or Vegan)
- Tex-Mex Black Bean & Quinoa Stuffed Peppers (Vegan)
HELPFUL FOR THIS VEGETARIAN TACO PASTA: