1/2 pound small pasta shells, cooked according to package directions (medium shells, small bends, rotini, bow ties, etc. may be substituted)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground beef (I used 85% lean)
1 medium/large sweet Vidalia onion, diced
3 to 4 cloves of garlic, finely pressed or minced
15-ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed (I used no added salt)
15-ounce can of diced tomatoes, do not drain (I use no salt added)
4 ounce can of diced green chilies, do not drain (I used fire roasted)
1/2 cup chopped green onions, with 2 tablespoons reserved for garnish
1 ounce package of taco seasoning (I used medium heat, reduced sodium)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper as you prefer
8 ounces (about 2 cups) extra-strong cheddar cheese, grated (grate your own because pre-shredded cheese in bags doesn’t melt as well)
1 jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced for garnish, optional
2-3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped to garnish
start cook pasta according to direction of package , drain and set aside.
Preheat the grill to high.
In a very large ovenproof skillet, add olive oil, ground beef, onions and cook over medium-high heat to brown the beef, crumbling it with a spatula as it cooks and stirring frequently to ensure even cooking.
Cook for about 5-7 minutes, or as needed, until the beef is cooked through and the onions are tender.
Add garlic and cook about 1 minute or until fragrant, stirring frequently.
Add black beans, tomatoes, green chilies, green onions, taco seasoning, pepper and toss to combine.
Add pasta and toss to combine.
Sprinkle evenly with cheese, add slices of jalapeño if desired, and place the pan under the broiler until the cheese has melted and bubbled, about 1 to 2 minutes.
If you wish, allow the cheese to brown slightly or taste.
Keep a very close eye on your pan and the cheese as broilers can burn things in seconds.
Sprinkle evenly with the reserved 2 tablespoons of green onions, cilantro and serve immediately.