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Toss Up a Terrific Taco Pasta Salad

Toss Up a Terrific Taco Pasta Salad

I’m so excited for summer! Bring it on! It’s salad season! We love doing Taco night once a week. Why not switch it up and try something new! My Taco Pasta Salad is perfect! It’s also great for backyard BBQ’s and potlucks. Super easy and kid friendly too! It’s something a little different than the traditional summer sides, so bright, colorful, fun and fresh!

My secret to making this salad extra yummy and so easy breezy is Tony Chachere’s Creole Style French Salad Dressing. It’s packed with flavor. You just gotta try it!

Besides being a delicious French salad dressing it also makes a great marinade for chicken, steaks, or pretty much whatever you’re throwing on the grill. If you can’t find Tony Chachere’s Creole Style French Salad Dressing at your grocery store you can always order it online.

Taco Pasta Salad Ingredients

Okay, it’s time to toss this salad together. First, let’s start with the ground beef. You’ll need a pound and a half. You can can lighten it up by getting lean ground beef or you can use ground turkey too. Brown it up in a skillet until it’s crumbly and cooked through. Drain any grease.

Ground beef simmering in taco sauce

Next, add to the skillet one packet of your favorite taco seasoning and about a half cup of water to the skillet. Simmer about five minutes or until the liquid cooks off. Let the beef cool completely.

Finished taco meat

Here’s an idea! On taco night, why not double the batch of taco meat and turn the leftovers into this salad? What a fun thing to have in the fridge for last minute lunches!

Okay, now back to the recipe. While you are browning the beef get a big pot of water boiling. Add a pound of rotini, also known as corkscrew pasta and a pinch of salt. Boil about ten minutes until pasta is cooked and tender, but be careful not to overcook it. Nobody likes a mushy pasta salad! Now, drain the pasta. You can run cold water over it to stop the cooking and cool the pasta. By the way penne, bowtie or even macaroni works too!

Rotini or corkscrew pasta cooked and tender

Time to dice up some tomatoes. I love those cute grape and cherry tomatoes. They are nice and sweet even out of season. If you are using those just cut them in half or quarters. If you are using roma or vine ripe tomatoes, seed and dice about 2 of them. You need around two cups altogether. Now open two small cans of sliced black olives. Drain them well.

Diced tomatoes
Chopped black olives

Get yourself a big bowl. Add the cooled ground beef and pasta. Next add tomatoes and olives, but save a little of each to decorate the top before serving.

Shake up the dressing really well. The Tony Chachere’s Creole Style French Salad Dressing definitely makes this salad! Drizzle the whole bottle over the top and gently toss to coat.

Shake salad dressing well, then pour over ingredients

If you are making it ahead, now cover and refrigerate the salad. That way all the flavor really has time to get in there. I usually make it a couple hours ahead. You can even make it the night before. Before serving, take it out of the fridge, uncover it and add about 4 cups of shredded lettuce. I prefer romaine lettuce because it’s healthier for you but iceberg works too.

Shredded lettuce

Next, add one cup of shredded cheddar cheese. (Shred one more cup for later!)

Lightly crush up your favorite flavored tortilla chips. I like nacho cheese! The Ranch flavored is yummy in this too! You’ll need 3 to 4 cups of the slightly crushed chips. Add half of them to the bowl. Gently toss everything together.

Crush up tortilla chips.

Now, time to make it pretty. I spoon it all into a serving bowl. Top it with the remaining cup of shredded cheese, crushed chips, and the reserved tomatoes and black olives. It’s a party in a bowl! So bright and colorful! I usually keep it simple, but you can add a can of drained and rinsed pinto, kidney or black beans. You could add canned or fresh corn too! Chopped cilantro and chopped green onions are also delicious on top. For lunch or even a nice light dinner, this Taco Pasta Salad is a WINNER!

Click Taco Pasta Salad for my complete and printable recipe.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10- 15 minutes
Servings: 6 to 8

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