My taco meatballs are made with venison and pork, but you could substitute your favorite meatball ingredients.
It all started with a box of black bean spaghetti, which is made with nothing but black beans. I’m always looking for ways to avoid the high-glycemic white flour pastas when I can, and this seemed like another interesting way to do that. Then I was trying to figure out how to complement such a pasta, so I started thinking about what we usually eat with black beans. I always cook them with cumin, oregano, and garlic, and serve them alongside a variety of Mexican dishes, so I started thinking in that direction.
On the other hand, we often have some kind of meatball with pasta—thus the taco meatball idea was born. To keep it on the Mexican side, I took a tomato-based sauce idea, but added poblano peppers instead of bell peppers, and that pretty much instantly turned it into a Mexican sauce.
I also had two crispy corn taco shells in the cupboard waiting for a purpose, so I crushed them in the food processor to substitute for breadcrumbs in the meatballs. It gave them just a little corn flavor to add to the taco idea. For the taco seasoning, I made a variation of this one.
Taco Meatballs and Black Bean Spaghetti
Taco Pasta Sauce
- 1 large can peeled San Marzano tomatoes, drained (reserve juice in can if you want to thin the sauce later)
- 4-6 roasted poblano peppers, peeled and seeded
- 1 large onion
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Place all ingredients in bowl of food processor. Process until uniformly small, but still with visible pieces of all the elements. I think it ends up looking like salsa.
- Pour into large skillet and heat over medium-low heat while you make the meatballs.
- 1 lb ground venison
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1/2 cup ground tortilla shells (you could use flavored corn chips, but you might need to alter your seasoning)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon minced or roasted garlic
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 2 teaspoons taco seasoning:
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground California chiles
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- Mix all ingredients well—I used my stand mixer.
- Form into small meatballs of about 2 teaspoons each and drop into the sauce as it is heating. If it starts to bubble, lower the heat to a simmer.
- Cover and simmer for 45 minutes, uncovering the skillet during the last ten minutes to cook down any excess liquid from the vegetables. Remember that the onion and pepper in this recipe are not sauteed first, so they can water down the sauce on cooking, even though the tomato paste helps to thicken the sauce.
Serve over black bean spaghetti, cooked according to package directions. It cooks very quickly, about 6-8 minutes. This pasta has an interesting taste and texture that complements the taco flavors.