Southwestern Pasta with Ground Beef and Corn

Southwestern Pasta with Ground Beef and Corn and breadcrumbs on top on a plate with fork holding a bite. The sauce is thick and hearty with ground beef, sweet corn kernels, chunky tomatoes, chipotle peppers in adobo, green chiles, parmesan cheese, and lots of smokey and spicy seasonings.
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Southwestern Pasta with Ground Beef and Corn and breadcrumbs on top on a plate with fork holding a bite. The sauce is thick and hearty with ground beef, sweet corn kernels, chunky tomatoes, chipotle peppers in adobo, green chiles, parmesan cheese, and lots of smokey and spicy seasonings.

What could be better than a big ole pot of pasta with meat and tomato sauce?  How about a big ole pot of Southwestern Pasta with Ground Beef, Corn, and Green Chile-Chipotle-Tomato Sauce!  The sauce is thick and hearty with ground beef and chunky tomatoes.  Then flavor bombs chipotle peppers in adobo, green chiles, and lots of smokey and spicy seasonings are added to bring in the warmth and a slight kick of heat.  Corn kernels are added for a pop of sweet and texture, and grated Parmesan thickens up the sauce and adds creaminess.  Finally, Pappardelle is mixed in and buttery toasted breadcrumbs are sprinkled on top for crunch.

You can make the sauce ahead and mix in the pasta right before serving for dinner on a busy weekend!  Your family will love it. 

CHECK OUT THE EASY RECIPE FOR SOUTHWESTERN GROUND BEEF AND CORN

WHAT MAKES THIS SOUTHWESTERN?

Southwestern cuisine is an adaptation of Mexican cuisine that you will typically find in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada.  It is similar to Tex-Mex which is also an adaptation of Mexican food.  

Some of the common ingredients in Southwestern cuisine are chile peppers, corn, and beans.  So, what makes this Pasta with Ground Beef Southwestern is honestly a loose interpretation of the cuisine.  It’s the addition of the corn, the green chiles and the chipotle peppers in adobo.  It’s not true Mexican, though Mexican was an inspiration.  And it’s not Italian, though it was also a big inspiration.  It’s a mash-up recipe which is how Southwestern cuisine evolved to begin with.

Quick note!  This post contains affiliate links, which means I earn a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you purchase from them.  This commission is what helps me keep this blog afloat :).  I also share these links because I have used the products, genuinely love them, and want you to know exactly what I used. 

EQUIPMENT NEEDED

For this recipe, you will need a large pot for cooking the pasta and a large pot or deep pan for the sauce. I used my dutch oven which is perfect for browning the beef, building the sauce, and then mixing in the pasta.

Oh, and mincing garlic is made super easy with a Garlic Press.

PREP-AHEAD STEPS FOR SOUTHWESTERN PASTA WITH GROUND BEEF

We are all extremely busy and making dinner during the week can be overwhelming. Here are steps you can prepare ahead to save time on busy nights! (See the full recipe below) 

For this recipe, you can make the sauce entirely ahead!  However, assuming that you just want to get ahead before cooking, then you can prep all of the ingredients for the sauce.  Open the cans of tomatoes, chiles, and paste. Mince the garlic cloves and the chipotle peppers. Measure out all ingredients and add to a bowl for adding to the cooked beef. Store ingredients in the fridge if doing this ahead of time.

Next, you can husk the corn and remove any corn silk. Using a large knife, cut the kernels from the cob.

Knife cutting corn kernels off cob for Southwestern Pasta with Ground Beef and Corn and breadcrumbs.  The sauce is thick and hearty with ground beef, sweet corn kernels, chunky tomatoes, chipotle peppers in adobo, green chiles, parmesan cheese, and lots of smokey and spicy seasonings. 

Last, using the back of the knife, scrape down the cob to remove any remaining kernels and the corn ‘milk’. Save all corn removed in the fridge until ready to add to the sauce.

Knife cutting corn kernels off cob for Southwestern Pasta with Ground Beef and Corn and breadcrumbs.  The sauce is thick and hearty with ground beef, sweet corn kernels, chunky tomatoes, chipotle peppers in adobo, green chiles, parmesan cheese, and lots of smokey and spicy seasonings.

COOK YOUR SOUTHWESTERN SAUCE

If you are cooking the sauce right before serving it, then you can start first by getting the pasta water going.  If you’re making the sauce ahead to reheat later, no need to worry about the pasta right now.

The sauce all cooks in one big pot, starting with the ground beef and then adding the rest of the ingredients.

Raw ground beef cooking in a pot for Southwestern Pasta with Ground Beef and Corn and breadcrumbs.  The sauce is thick and hearty with ground beef, sweet corn kernels, chunky tomatoes, chipotle peppers in adobo, green chiles, parmesan cheese, and lots of smokey and spicy seasonings.

Diced tomatoes added to ground beef cooking in a pot for Southwestern Pasta with Ground Beef and Corn and breadcrumbs.  The sauce is thick and hearty with ground beef, sweet corn kernels, chunky tomatoes, chipotle peppers in adobo, green chiles, parmesan cheese, and lots of smokey and spicy seasonings.

Once the tomatoes, tomato paste, green chiles, minced garlic, chipotle peppers in adobo, Beef broth, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper are in the pot, stir and bring to a light boil. Then reduce the heat down to lowest setting, cover, and let simmer for 20 minutes.

Tomatoes, chiles, and ground beef cooking in a pot for Southwestern Pasta with Ground Beef and Corn and breadcrumbs.  The sauce is thick and hearty with ground beef, sweet corn kernels, chunky tomatoes, chipotle peppers in adobo, green chiles, parmesan cheese, and lots of smokey and spicy seasonings.

While the sauce is simmering, you can toast the breadcrumbs.

When there is just 2-3 minutes left in the sauce cooking time, remove the cover and add the corn. Stir to combine. Then cover again. At the end of the 20 minutes, stir in the parmesan cheese.  

Corn kernels added to pot of ground beef and tomato-chile sauce for Southwestern Pasta with Ground Beef and Corn and breadcrumbs.  The sauce is thick and hearty with ground beef, sweet corn kernels, chunky tomatoes, chipotle peppers in adobo, green chiles, parmesan cheese, and lots of smokey and spicy seasonings.

Spoon mixing parmesan cheese into pot of ground beef and tomato-chile sauce for Southwestern Pasta with Ground Beef and Corn and breadcrumbs.  The sauce is thick and hearty with ground beef, sweet corn kernels, chunky tomatoes, chipotle peppers in adobo, green chiles, parmesan cheese, and lots of smokey and spicy seasonings.

Boil the pasta until al dente. Using a Pasta spoon or tongs, transfer the cooked pasta directly from the cooking water to the meat sauce. Gently toss to combine.

Pappardelle pasta being mixed into pot of ground beef and tomato-chile sauce for Southwestern Pasta with Ground Beef and Corn and breadcrumbs.  The sauce is thick and hearty with ground beef, sweet corn kernels, chunky tomatoes, chipotle peppers in adobo, green chiles, parmesan cheese, and lots of smokey and spicy seasonings.

RECIPE FAQS

How far in advance can I make this?

The sauce can be made up to 5 days ahead and stored sealed in the refrigerator.

Can I freeze this sauce?

Yes, though I recommend freezing it without the pasta and adding fresh-cooked pasta when you thaw and reheat it.  To freeze the sauce, first cool it down in the fridge.  Then transfer the sauce to a freezer bag or storage container and seal it airtight.  It will keep in the freezer for up to 6 months.  To reheat, you can thaw in the fridge 24 hours ahead.  Then reheat it in a bot on the stove, covered, on medium heat for about 10-15 minutes, stirring often.

Can I use frozen corn kernels?

Yes, of course!  Just add them frozen to the sauce just as instructed for the fresh.  The frozen will thaw and warm in the same time the fresh will take to cook.

Can I substitute Ground Chicken or Turkey?

Yes, ground chicken or turkey can very easily be substituted into this recipe.  Cook according to the same instructions as the ground beef.

ENJOY!  😍 Carrie

Have you tried this recipe? If so, please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ star rating in the recipe below! I love to hear your feedback and your rating helps others to find this recipe. Thanks so much!

Southwestern Pasta with Ground Beef and Corn

Get ready for BIG flavor with this Southwestern Pasta with Ground Beef, Corn, and Green Chile-Chipotle-Tomato Sauce!  The sauce is thick and hearty with ground beef and chunky tomatoes.  Then flavor bombs chipotle peppers in adobo, green chiles, and lots of smokey and spicy seasonings are added to bring in the warmth and a slight kick of heat.  Corn kernels are added for a pop of sweet and texture, and grated Parmesan thickens up the sauce and adds creaminess.  Finally, Pappardelle is mixed in and is the perfect vehicle for carrying all of this goodness. You can make the sauce ahead and mix in the pasta right before serving for dinner on a busy weekend!  Your family will love it. 

Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Mexican, Southwestern
Keyword corn, ground beef, meat sauce, pasta, southwestern pasta
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 416 kcal
Author Carrie Tyler

Ingredients

Meat Sauce

  • 1 pound Lean Ground Beef I used 90% lean
  • 1 teaspoon Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 15 ounces Diced Tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 4 ounces Green Chiles
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons minced)
  • 1 tablespoon Chipotle Peppers in Adobo, minced
  • 2 cups Beef Broth
  • 1 tablespoon Chili Powder
  • 1 tablespoon Ground Cumin
  • 1 tablespoon Dried Oregano
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Black Pepper

Final Sauce Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 Corn Cob or 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 12 ounces Fettuccine Pasta, uncooked
  • 1/2 cup Panko Breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon Butter, salted

Instructions

Prep-Ahead Steps

  1. MEASURE. Open the cans of tomatoes, chiles, and paste. Mince the garlic cloves and the chipotle peppers. Measure out all ingredients and add to a bowl for adding to the cooked beef. Store ingredients in the fridge if doing this ahead of time.

  2. PREP CORN. Husk the corn and remove any corn silk. Using a large knife, cut the kernels from the cob. Last, using the back of the knife, scrape down the cob to remove any remaining kernels and the corn 'milk'. Save all corn removed in the fridge until ready to add to the sauce.

Cooking Steps

  1. PASTA WATER. Fill a wide/large pot with 6-8 cups of water for the pasta. Heat on high to bring to a boil for dropping the pasta after the meat sauce is ready.

  2. COOK BEEF. Preheat a dutch oven or large and deep pot/pan on high heat. Add the olive oil and the ground beef. Break the beef up with a spatula and then let it cook, stirring every few minutes to break it up and brown on all sides. Should take about 8 minutes for all pink to be gone.

  3. COOK SAUCE. Once the beef is cooked, add all of the other Meat Sauce Ingredients – tomatoes, tomato paste, green chiles, minced garlic, chipotle peppers in adobo, Beef broth, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir and bring to a light boil. Then reduce the heat down to lowest setting, cover, and let simmer for 20 minutes.

  4. CORN & PARMESAN. When there is just 2-3 minutes left in the sauce cooking time, remove the cover and add the corn. Stir to combine. Then cover again. At the end of the 20 minutes, stir in the parmesan cheese.

  5. PASTA. Once the pasta water is boiling (but no sooner than 5 minutes remaining on the meat sauce cooking time!), add a splash of Olive Oil and a pinch of salt. Add the pasta and stir so that it all is immersed in the water and doesn't stick it itself. Boil the pasta until al dente. Using a Pasta spoon or tongs, transfer the cooked pasta directly from the cooking water to the meat sauce. Gently toss to combine.

  6. BREADCRUMBS. Preheat a small pan on medium-low heat. Add the butter. Once the butter is melted, add the breadcrumbs and stir to combine. Toast the breadcrumbs, stirring constantly, just until they start to brown.

  7. SERVE. Serve the Southwestern Beef and Corn Pasta on a platter or individual plates. Garnish with the breadcrumbs and parmesan. Enjoy!

    Southwestern Pasta with Ground Beef and Corn and breadcrumbs on top on a plate with fork holding a bite. The sauce is thick and hearty with ground beef, sweet corn kernels, chunky tomatoes, chipotle peppers in adobo, green chiles, parmesan cheese, and lots of smokey and spicy seasonings.

Recipe Video

White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef

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Oh my goodness, this is one knock-your-socks-off dinner!  It’s my White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef and it’s creamy, rich, hearty, and mouthwatering delicious.  You get layers of noodles, zucchini, ground beef mixed with herbs, seasonings, and creamy cheese, plus a silky white sauce in every layer.  This is one of my absolute favorite new dinners!  

It’s not only a favorite because it’s yummy, but also because it’s easy!  You can make this entire lasagna ahead and reheat it or even freeze it.  If you like dinners that you can freeze, you will love these Five 5-Ingredient Freezable Dinners – with Grocery List!

Piece of White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef with browned melted cheese on top on a plate with parsley.  It's a make-ahead family dinner!  It's creamy, hearty, and delicious with layers of noodles, zucchini, ground beef, creamy cheese, and a silky white sauce. 

The Amazing Zucchini! 

Zucchini is one of my all time favorite veggies!  First, zucchini has great health benefits!  It’s low in calories and packed with vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin A.  Zucchini is also rich in antioxidants that are linked to benefits for your eyes, skin, and heart.

Second, zucchini is so versatile with a mild fresh flavor that goes with just about anything.  The texture mimics noodles, so you can spiralize it into zoodles or slice it long and wide like in this recipe for lasagna!  You can hollow it out for stuffed Zucchini Boats, add it to Stir Fries, or add it as filler to meatballs.  So many options!  Here are my favorites…

Quick note!  This post contains affiliate links, which means I earn a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you purchase from them.  This commission is what helps me keep this blog afloat :).  I also share these links because I have used the products, genuinely love them, and want you to know exactly what I used. 

EQUIPMENT NEEDED

For the beef filling you need either a large frying pan/skillet or a wide-bottom pot, such as dutch oven.

You also need a casserole dish that’s approximately 10×10 or similar.

PREP-AHEAD STEPS FOR YOUR WHITE LASAGNA RECIPE

We are all extremely busy and making dinner during the week can be overwhelming. Here are steps you can prepare ahead to save time on busy nights! (See the full recipe below)

You can prepare the zucchini, beef filling, and white sauce ahead and store in the fridge.

Prepare the zucchini by cutting it into long strips from stem to stem that are about 1/4 inch thick. They will resemble the size of lasagna noodles. You should get 4 long strips per zucchini.

Hand holding slice of zucchini on a cutting board for White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef

Mince the garlic, chop the parsley, and measure out the fennel seed, oregano, salt, and pepper. Then add all to the ground beef in a large mixing bowl. Mix to combine.

Preheat a large pot or dutch oven on medium-high heat and add in a teaspoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Add the ground beef mixture and break it up. Let it cook for 5 minutes, stirring halfway through until it gets browned.

Ground beef and herbs cooking in a pot for White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef

Stir in the cream cheese until melted and combined. Turn off the heat and stir in half (4oz) of the mozzarella. Set aside off the heat until ready to the assemble.

Cheese added to ground beef and herbs cooking in a pot for White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef

Make the White Sauce. First, warm the milk slightly in the microwave or in a pot. Preheat a separate medium sauce pot on medium-low heat and add the butter. Once the butter is melted, whisk in the flour and let it cook for 1-2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk until fully combined into a smooth thick mixture. Slowly whisk in the broth. Stir in the salt and remove from the heat.

Whisk mixing white sauce roux in a pot for White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef

Whisk mixing white sauce in a pot for White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef

Can I use Ground Chicken instead?

Yes!  Absolutely, ground chicken or ground turkey will both work great in this recipe.  The beef will render more fat and therefore, more moisture.  So you may need to add a splash of milk to the ground chicken when you mix in the cheese to help it mix in.

ASSEMBLE & COOK YOUR WHITE LASAGNA RECIPE

Before you start to assemble, make sure that your lasagna noodles are ready. If they are no-boil noodles, you are set. Otherwise, you need to par-cook them in boiling water for just a few minutes so they are pliable.

Layer 1 – Start by spooning a thin layer of the white sauce onto the bottom, just so the pasta sheets don’t stick to the bottom. Then add the first layer of lasagna noodles. Layer white sauce over the noodles and then top with HALF of the beef mixture. Next, top with a layer of HALF of the Zucchini strips (usually 4 strips), and then more white sauce.

Ladle pouring white sauce over lasagna noodles in dish for White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef

Ladle pouring white sauce over zucchini slices on top of beef and lasagna noodles in dish for White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef

Layers 2 – Repeat – Add a layer of noodles, white sauce, the remaining half of the beef mixture, and the final layer of zucchini strips and more white sauce. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese and parsley on top.

Ladle pouring white sauce over lasagna noodles in dish for White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef

Ladle pouring white sauce over zucchini slices on top of beef and lasagna noodles in dish for White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef

Shredded cheese and parsley on top of assembled White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef

Cover your lasagna with aluminum foil and then bake on the center rack for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for another 15 minutes. For the last 5 minutes, I turn the broiler on to get a nice browned top. Let rest for 15-20 minutes before cutting and serving.

White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef with browned melted cheese on top in casserole dish! It's a make-ahead family dinner! It's creamy, hearty, and delicious with layers of noodles, zucchini, ground beef, creamy cheese, and a silky white sauce. 

How do I freeze this and reheat it?

You can freeze your fully assembled lasagna either cooked or uncooked.  If you freeze it uncooked, you will want to thaw it in the fridge for 24 hours before baking it.  If it is fully thawed through to the center, simply bake according to the instructions.  If you freeze it fully cooked, you should still thaw it in the fridge 24 hours ahead, but you could bake it in the oven at 350 F degrees for an hour from frozen state.  Just test the center to see if it is warmed through in the center.  If not, bake for another 10-15 and check again.

ENJOY!  😍 Carrie

Piece of White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef with browned melted cheese on top on a plate with parsley. It's a make-ahead family dinner! It's creamy, hearty, and delicious with layers of noodles, zucchini, ground beef, creamy cheese, and a silky white sauce. 

White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef

This White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef is a delicious make-ahead family dinner! It's creamy, rich, hearty, and mouthwatering delicious.  You get layers of noodles, zucchini, ground beef mixed with herbs, seasonings, and creamy cheese, plus a silky white sauce in every layer. 

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword family dinner, lasagna, pasta, zucchini
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Resting Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Author Carrie Tyler

Ingredients

Ground Beef Mixture

  • 1 lb 90% Lean Ground Beef no antibiotics
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Fennel Seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 3 teaspoons Parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 6 ounces Cream cheese
  • 8 ounces Shredded Mozzarella (divided for beef and topping)

White Sauce

  • 2 cups 1% milk skim, 2% or whole will work
  • 1 1/2 cups Chicken Broth
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Other Lasagna

  • 8-10 Lasagna Noodles
  • 2 Large Zucchini

Instructions

Prep-Ahead Steps

  1. Prepare the zucchini by cutting it into long strips from stem to stem that are about 1/4 inch thick. They will resemble the size of lasagna noodles. You should get 4 long strips per zucchini.

    Hand holding slice of zucchini on a cutting board for White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef
  2. Mince the garlic, chop the parsley, and measure out the fennel seed, oregano, salt, and pepper. Then add all to the ground beef in a large mixing bowl. Mix to combine.

  3. Preheat a large pot or dutch oven on medium-high heat and add in a teaspoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Add the ground beef mixture and break it up. Let it cook for 5 minutes, stirring halfway through until it gets browned.

    Ground beef and herbs cooking in a pot for White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef
  4. Stir in the cream cheese until melted and combined. Turn off the heat and stir in half (4oz) of the mozzarella. Set aside off the heat until ready to the assemble.

    Cheese added to ground beef and herbs cooking in a pot for White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef
  5. Make the White Sauce. First, warm the milk slightly in the microwave or in a pot. Preheat a separate medium sauce pot on medium-low heat and add the butter. Once the butter is melted, whisk in the flour and let it cook for 1-2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk until fully combined into a smooth thick mixture. Slowly whisk in the broth. Stir in the salt and remove from the heat.

    Whisk mixing white sauce in a pot for White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef

Assemble the Lasagna

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F degrees.

  2. Before you start to assemble, make sure that your lasagna noodles are ready. If they are no-boil noodles, you are set. Otherwise, you need to par-cook them in boiling water for just a few minutes so they are pliable.

  3. Layer 1 – Start by spooning a thin layer of the white sauce onto the bottom, just so the pasta sheets don’t stick to the bottom.  Then add the first layer of lasagna noodles. Layer white sauce over the noodles and then top with HALF of the beef mixture. Next, top with a layer of HALF of the Zucchini strips (usually 4 strips), and then more white sauce.

    Ladle pouring white sauce over zucchini slices on top of beef and lasagna noodles in dish for White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef
  4. Layers 2 – Repeat – Add a layer of noodles, white sauce, the remaining half of the beef mixture, and the final layer of zucchini strips and more white sauce. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese and parsley on top.

    Shredded cheese and parsley on top of assembled White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef
  5. Cover your lasagna with aluminum foil and then bake on the center rack for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for another 15 minutes. For the last 5 minutes, I turn the broiler on to get a nice browned top. Let rest for 15-20 minutes before cutting and serving.

    White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef with browned melted cheese on top in casserole dish! It's a make-ahead family dinner! It's creamy, hearty, and delicious with layers of noodles, zucchini, ground beef, creamy cheese, and a silky white sauce.