This dish was so flavorful! I was a little weirded out by the cubes of cheese tossed in, but strangely the flavors all work well together. It does make a lot and I think it’s because of the bow tie pasta. I think if I make this again I would use a spiral or something smaller that’s bite size. I also added in a link of Italian sausage to add more flavorful and not so much pasta.

Cowboy Pasta Salad
(Adapted from Carlsbad Cravings)

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Pasta Salad
1 pound mini farfalle or other small pasta such as rigatoni or shells
1 pound lean ground beef or turkey see note
1 4 oz. can mild diced green chiles
1 tsp EACH chili powder, ground cumin
3/4 tsp EACH garlic powder, salt (omit salt if using ground turkey and bouillon)
4-6 tablespoons diced canned jalapeno peppers (from 4 oz. can)
1 green bell pepper chopped
1 15 oz. can black beans rinsed and drained
corn from 1 ear sweet corn
1 pint cherry tomatoes halved
1 cup cubed sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 small red onion chopped
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/2 pound thick center cut bacon cooked and chopped

Dressing
1/3 cup ketchup
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream may sub plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup salsa medium if you like a kick
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp EACH smoked paprika, salt, pepper
Hot sauce to taste

Whisk together all of the Dressing ingredients in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Cook pasta just until al dente according to package directions. Rinse with cold water and drain.

Add to a large serving bowl and toss with half of the dressing.

Brown meat with onions in a large skillet over medium heat. Drain off excess grease. Stir in green chiles and all spices. Set aside to cool while you chop your veggies.

Add beef and all remaining salad ingredients to pasta except bacon.
If serving immediately, add bacon and stir in desired amount of dressing. If not serving immediately, hold bacon and dressing and add when ready to serve. Add hot sauce for spicier, apple cider vinegar for tangier, brown sugar for less tangy if desired.

Cowboy Pasta Salad can be served slightly chilled, at room temperature, or heated through. Leftovers are equally delicious heated in the microwave.

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