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Southwest Pasta Bake


  • 8 ounces uncooked penne pasta
  • 1 package (8 ounces) fat-free cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup fat-free milk
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (90% lean)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jar (16 ounces) picante sauce
  • 1 can (8 ounces) no-salt-added tomato sauce
  • 1 can (6 ounces) no-salt-added tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
  • 1 can (2-1/4 ounces) sliced ripe olives, drained
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions


  • 1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in milk. Stir in spinach and oregano; set aside.
  • 2. In a nonstick skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Drain. Stir in the picante sauce, tomato sauce, tomato paste, chili powder and cumin; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Drain pasta; stir into meat mixture.
  • 3. In a 13x9-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray, layer half of the meat mixture and all of the spinach mixture. Top with remaining meat mixture.
  • 4. Cover and bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with cheese. Bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with olives and onions. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Nutrition Facts

1 serving: 328 calories, 9g fat (4g saturated fat), 40mg cholesterol, 855mg sodium, 36g carbohydrate (6g sugars, 4g fiber), 25g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 3 lean meat, 2 vegetable, 1-1/2 starch.


Average Rating: 4.347826
  • kgburgess
    Dec 15, 2016

    My family loved this recipe! It was amazing with a dollop of fat-free sour cream on top. I would say this should be called Mexican Lasagna, as the layers were very similar, only with a Mexican flair. It was delicious and so easy to make! I will definitely be making this again. Yum!

  • tifball
    Jan 8, 2015

    Delicious! I make this for my family at least 1x a month and never have leftovers.

  • lrwatkins519
    Feb 2, 2012

    I did not like this recipe at all. I don't think the cream cheese or spinach should be added at all. The flavor combinations were terrible.

  • PrincessM7
    Jun 15, 2011

    I love this recipe! I do make some changes when I make this. I use 99% fat free turkey instead of beef and low-fat cream cheese instead of fat free. It is delicious and doesn't taste low fat. I highly recommend it!

  • countrygirl_717
    Oct 11, 2011

    Loved this!! Made it just as shown except for used fat free ground turkey and Barilla whole grain Penne noodles. MMmm good!

  • PrincessM7
    Jun 15, 2011

    This is delicious! I used 98% fat free turkey (lower fat than beef) and low-fat cream cheese (more taste than fat-free). My husband and I loved it. I will definitely be making this again. I may also try wheat pasta next time.

  • lurky27
    Apr 29, 2011

    This is yummy, it just takes a while to assemble & prepare.

    ~ Theresa

  • bakerswoman
    Nov 17, 2010

    I used ground turkey with taco seasoning and added a can of Mexican stewed tomatoes though and it was go good. My family is waiting for me to make it again! :D

  • Lisa Ruby
    Nov 16, 2010

    My family loved this recipe. I didn't use the low fat or fat free choices but it turned out great! Even my picky three and four year olds liked it!

  • cookmama300
    Jun 16, 2010

    My family really liked this recipe. The only change I made was using red onion on top instead of green just because I didn't have any. Easy to make too.

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