Cowboy Pasta Salad
16 ounces small elbow pasta
2 lbs. ground beef
1/3 cup taco seasoning
1 red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 green bell pepper, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped, about 1/3 cup
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 cup cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2-inch matchsticks
optional: jarred sliced jalapenos
1 cup lightly flavored olive oil
1/2 cup juice from jar of sliced jalapenos
1/4-1/2 cup sliced jarred jalapenos, minced
1/4 cup fresh lime juice, about 3 small limes worth (plain white vinegar may be substituted to taste)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt, adjust to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain under cold water until the pasta is cool.
While the pasta is boiling, cook and crumble the ground beef in a large skillet, sprinkle the meat generously with the taco seasoning while cooking. Combine the pasta, ground beef, bell peppers, tomatoes, onion, and cilantro in a large mixing bowl.
Combine the oil, jalapeno juice, jalapenos, lime juice, garlic, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper in a jar. Cover with lid and shake well. Pour the dressing over the pasta salad in the bowl. Toss to coat thoroughly.
Serve warm or at room temperature. Top with jalapeno slices and/or cheddar cheese.