Thursday, July 21, 2011

Creamy Taco Mac

I’m not usually what one would call an Early Adopter. If something is trendy, by the time I found out about it, the trend is probably over. Like when someone on my internet cooking board brought up planking. I hadn’t ever heard of it, but once I was aware of it, I heard about it several times that day and then had my husband reference it. Or the first time I heard about Silly Bandz was after the craze had mostly passed. And while listening to my iPod on our recent trip to Atlanta, I came to the realization that most of the music I still really enjoy listening to was “cool” back when I was in high school or college.

So you might’ve seen this dish before on other food blogs because it has certainly made its rounds. It’s just taken me this long to actually make it. But that’s the great thing about being in conversation with other people: you try things you might not have tried otherwise. That was one of the things I loved about being at camp, learning from other people, in age groups I don’t normally socialize with, about what they were into, what they were listening to, and what they were thinking about.

I’m certainly not on the cutting edge of fashion or music or cooking, but that doesn’t mean that some trends aren’t worth following. I took Bridget’s adaptations to the “original” Creamy Taco Mac and tweaked them just a little based on what I had around. I threw in a jalapeno with the onion and bell pepper and substituted light cream cheese in lieu of Greek yogurt. Using only one pot was a definite bonus, especially since it made a ton of food, providing me with a glut of leftovers.


Creamy Taco Mac
adapted from The Way the Cookie Crumbles


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped small
1 red pepper, chopped small
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped small
Table salt
3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon ground chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne
16 ounces dry pasta
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 cups water
2 15 oz cans black beans, drained
4 oz light cream cheese
2 tablespoons cilantro
1 avocado, diced (optional)


1. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, bell pepper, jalapeno pepper, and ½ teaspoon salt and cook until the onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and spices and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

2. Add the pasta, diced tomatoes with juices, water, and beans. Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender, about 20 minutes.

3. Stir in the cream cheese until melted. Cover and simmer over low heat until heated, 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro and avocado, if using. Serve.