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Southwestern Black Bean Pasta (EASY 30 minute pantry meal!)

This recipe for Southwestern Black Bean pasta is a great pantry recipe for a 30 minute meatless meal! It features pasta with a smoky tomato sauce and plenty of black beans.

white platter with pasta and black bean sauce on a table

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This recipe was originally published April 21, 2010. It’s been updated with new photos and additional information for clarity.

Creating this recipe for Black Bean Pasta

This recipe for Black Bean Pasta is an adaptation of a meal we at years ago when I was a teenager.

I know the recipe came from a magazine, but I’ve tried and tried to find the original recipe and have never been able to, so I had to recreate it based off of ingredients that I knew it contained.

I know this recipe had a smoky tomato based sauce with lots of black beans in it along with onion and green pepper, so I set out to try to recreate the recipe based on what I remembered eating.

My Favorite Black Bean Pasta Recipe

3 reasons I love this Easy Black Bean Pasta Recipe:

  1. It is a pantry meal! The bulk of the ingredients are pantry items that I like to keep stocked in my pantry and the vegetables are basic enough that I often have them on hand.
  2. It is so quick and easy to prepare! There are no complicated techniques needed to prepare this black bean pasta and it comes together in about 30 minutes.
  3. It is easily adaptable! You can easily add meat, extra vegetables, different vegetables, or do a variety of things to make this black bean pasta recipe your own based on your likes/dislikes or pantry staples.

Sometimes you just need an easy recipe for busy weeknights that the whole family will love and doesn’t have any fancy ingredients. This black bean pasta with southwestern flavors fits the bill for us!

Black Bean Pasta Recipe Ingredients

I love that this recipe for Black Bean Pasta largely relies on pantry ingredients. That makes it an easy 30 minute meal to make in a pinch!

  • Pasta
  • Black Beans
  • Onion
  • Green Bell Pepper
  • Garlic
  • Seasonings (cumin, salt, pepper, oregano)
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Diced Tomatoes
  • Optional Garnishes: Chopped Cilantro and Shredded Cheese

For the complete ingredient list and detailed instructions, scroll to the bottom of this post for the FREE printable recipe card.

ingredients to make a black bean pasta dish

How to Make this Black Bean Pasta Recipe

You won’t believe how easy this Black Bean Pasta Recipe is to make! Here’s a quick overview of the stove top instructions:

First, you’re going to saute the onion and pepper. Then, you’ll add in the garlic and the spices.

After the onion and pepper have been sautéed and the spices toasted, you’ll add in the rest of the ingredients: black beans (make sure to drain them first!), tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes.

Next, let the sauce simmer for 20 minutes so the flavors fully develop. While the sauce is simmering, you’ll prepare the pasta. After the sauce is done simmering, stir in the cooked pasta, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Then, serve with the optional chopped fresh cilantro and shredded cheese. I like pepper jack or a mild or medium cheddar cheese.

The above is simply a quick summary of this recipe. Check out the full recipe in the free printable recipe card at the bottom of this post for all the detailed instructions.

Can I Make this Black Bean Pasta Recipe Gluten-Free?

Yes! These black beans with pasta can definitely be prepared gluten-free. Just substitute your favorite gluten-free pasta in place of regular pasta. Cook it al dente, according to package directions.

Alternatively, this black bean pasta sauce could be served over a baked sweet potato if you don’t want to use pasta. That would be a super healthy meal idea!

Can I Prepare this Recipe in the Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker?

Yes! You can also prepare this black bean pasta recipe in an instant pot! It is a great method for less clean up during weeknight dinners.

You’ll need to make sure your pot is large enough to accomodate all of the ingredients up to the max fill line. If your instant pot isn’t large enough, then I recommend making a half sized recipe.

  • Use the sauté function on the instant pot or electric pressure cooker to sauté all of the vegetables and seasonings before you add the remaining ingredients to the pot. After sautéing the vegetables, press cancel.
  • Then, stir in the tomatoes, tomato sauce, black beans, pasta, and 3 1/2 cups of water. Mix it well.
  • Then, place the lid on the instant pot and cook the black bean pasta over high pressure for 3 minutes. Let the pressure naturally release completely before opening.
  • If you want to use the quick release method, you’ll need to cook it for 5-6 minutes on high pressure, then immediately quick release the pressure.

Precautions: Do not touch the steam escaping because it is very hot and can burn. Do not remove the lid until all of the pressure has released.

What Pasta Shape Works Best with This Recipe?

You can use whatever pasta you have on had or what you like best. I recommend sticking with shells, penne, rotini, bow-tie, or something similar in this recipe. Though, I have used spaghetti noodles in a pinch.

Can I Add Meat to This Black Bean Pasta Recipe?

Yes! If you prefer this recipe to have meat, I recommend adding Crock Pot Mexican Chicken to this recipe. Add the cooked, shredded chicken to the Black Bean Sauce before combining it with the pasta.

If taco meat is more your style, 1 pound of ground beef cooked with this Spicy Taco Seasoning would also be a great addition to this Black Bean Pasta Recipe for those wanting to add additional protein to their meal.

Can I add Extra Vegetables to this Recipe?

Yes, of course! Corn, extra bell peppers (try a mix of green, red peppers, yellow pepper, and orange for extra color) would be great, easy additions to this black bean pasta.

To add extra green, try adding some chopped fresh spinach. If you want to try using frozen spinach, add it in with the sauteed vegetables to thaw and allow some of the moisture to evaporate. (Related: How to Freeze Spinach)

If you like extra spice, try adding a can of fire roasted green chilies to the black bean pasta sauce.

overhead shot of pasta with a black bean sauce on a white platter

Tips for Making this Pasta Recipe

Because this Black Bean Pasta Recipe is so simple, there are a few key things and helpful tips that you shouldn’t skip when preparing it so that you get the best possible flavor.

Salt the pasta water. I like to add 1-2 tablespoons of salt to the water for every pound of pasta that I’m cooking. Seasoning the pasta makes the whole dish taste better. I prefer to use kosher salt or coarse sea salt.

Use freshly minced garlic rather than the kind that comes in jars when preparing this recipe. Fresh garlic has a lot more flavor!

Make sure you sauté the vegetables. Sautéing the vegetables enhances the flavor and brings out their sweetness. It also softens them.

Adding some heat to the cumin will toast the spice and enhance the flavor even more, giving the sauce a richer, more complex flavor rather than the flavor of raw spices.

Don’t skip the simmer time. This will allow all the flavors to develop and marry with each other so to speak! Your sauce will be a lot more flavorful if you let it simmer before serving. Plus, it allows the sauce to thicken up a bit so it sticks nicely to the pasta.

What are the Best Toppings for Black Bean Pasta?

This recipe doesn’t have any toppings required, but we love to add things to it when we have them on hand. Here are our favorite toppings and garnishes for this black bean pasta:

  • Mexican Cheese Blend – who doesn’t love cheesy pasta goodness?
  • Fresh Chopped Cilantro – this adds a nice pop of green and some fresh flavor. Don’t like cilantro? Try parsley or green onions.
  • Lime Wedgeslime juice adds a nice brightness to the sauce and enhances the spices.
  • Sour Cream – sour cream is great if you want your black bean pasta sauce to be extra creamy, or for younger kids if the sauce is too spicy for them.
  • Fresh Cracked Black Pepper – Kevin can never get enough fresh cracked black pepper. He adds it to just about everything!

How Long Does this Black Bean Pasta Last?

If you have leftovers, you can store this black bean pasta in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days when stored properly. Prepared foods should not sit out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.

Refrigerate leftover prepared foods, such as this black bean pasta, in a container with a sealed lid. Make sure your refrigerator temperature is set according to manufacturer instructions.

Can I Freeze This Black Bean Pasta Recipe?

Yes! But I wouldn’t try freezing it with the pasta. Freezing this recipe works best when you freeze the sauce alone and prepare the pasta when you plan to serve the recipe.

Simply add the sauce to a freezer safe storage container or seal it in a freezer safe zip top bag or vacuum sealer bag. The method will be pretty similar to freezing soup so feel free to check out my How to Freeze Soup Tutorial.

What Should I Serve with Black Bean Pasta?

If you’re looking for side suggestions to go with this recipe, I recommend a big green salad.

It doesn’t have to be fancy at all. We often use mixed greens, lettuce, cucumber, shredded carrot, and tomato for a basic side salad. Check out these 3 Simple Salad Dressing Recipes to go along with your salad.

If salad isn’t your thing, try this easy recipe for Roasted Broccoli for a vegetable side dish.

woman setting the table with a white platter of pasta with black beans

More Black Bean Recipes

Breakfast Bowls like these Southwest Protein Breakfast Bowls with Sweet Potato and Black Beans are a great way to enjoy a quick protein-packed, creative meal at home on busy weekday mornings.

In these Chicken, Black Bean, and Spinach Enchiladas, corn tortillas are filled with tender, shredded chicken, black beans, and fresh spinach. Then they’re smothered in both roasted tomatillo salsa and a tangy sour cream sauce.

Pumpkin and Turkey Black Bean Chili is a great fall chili recipe with tons of flavor. Even better, it’s super easy to make!

This black bean hummus is made with black beans instead of chickpeas, and is flavored with lime and cumin. This is a great dip to make for parties and potlucks!

Black beans, sweet potatoes, fire roasted salsa, and poblanos pair with black beans in this hearty, easy meatless Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili.

This Black Bean Soup with Andouille Sausage has just a bit of spice with the andouille sausage that is enough for me. I loved the hint of smokiness from the smoked paprika and ancho powder.

This Easy Black Bean Salad is packed with corn, tomatoes, cucumber, and more! It’s tossed with a lime-cumin dressing that’s full of flavor!

Don’t see what you’re looking for here? You can always head over to check out the recipe index to look for more recipes.

What are your favorite easy black bean recipes?

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Southwestern Black Bean Pasta

Southwestern Black Bean Pasta

Yield: serves 6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

This recipe for Southwestern Black Bean pasta is a great pantry recipe for a 30 minute meatless meal! It features pasta with a smoky tomato sauce and plenty of black beans. This simple vegetarian black bean pasta dish only takes a few minutes to prepare and uses mostly pantry ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 2 Green Bell Peppers, diced
  • 1 Yellow Onion, diced
  • 2 cloves minced Garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • 3 cans Black Beans, rinsed and drained
  • 28 ounces Tomato Sauce
  • 14 ounces Diced Tomatoes
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb Pasta of choice - penne, rigatoni, and shells all make great choices

Instructions

Preparing this Recipe Stovetop

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the bell pepper and onion and saute until tender, about 3 - 5 minutes.
  3. Add the minced garlic, dried oregano, and ground cumin. Saute another minute, until fragrant.
  4. Stir in the black beans, tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes.
  5. Cook over medium heat until bubbling, then reduce and simmer for about 20 - 30 minutes.
  6. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Add prepared pasta to a large shallow bowl.
  8. Pour the black bean sauce over top.
  9. Serve, passing shredded cheese (if desired) for sprinkling over individual plates of pasta.

Preparing this Recipe in an Instant Pot

You’ll need to make sure your pot is large enough to accomodate all of the ingredients up to the max fill line. If your instant pot isn’t large enough, then I recommend making a half sized recipe.

  1. Use the sauté function on the instant pot to sauté all of the vegetables and seasonings before you add the remaining ingredients to the pot.
  2. After sautéing the vegetables, press cancel.
  3. Then, stir in the tomatoes, tomato sauce, black beans, pasta, and 3 1/2 cups of water. Mix it well.
  4. Then, place the lid on the instant pot and cook the black bean pasta over high pressure for 3 minutes. Let the pressure naturally release completely before opening.
  5. If you want to use the quick release method, you'll need to cook it for 5-6 minutes on high pressure, then immediately quick release the pressure.

Precautions: Do not touch the steam escaping because it is very hot and can burn. Do not remove the lid until all of the pressure has released.

Notes

What Pasta Works Best for this Recipe

You can use whatever pasta you have on had or what you like best. I recommend sticking with shells, penne, rotini, or something similar in this recipe. I like the way the sauce coats those pasta shapes and that everything is in bite sized portions

Meat Additions

If you prefer this recipe to have meat, I recommend adding Crock Pot Mexican Chicken to this recipe. Add the cooked, shredded chicken to the Black Bean Sauce before combining it with the pasta.

You could also add strips of grilled chicken on top. I like this recipe for Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken.

If taco meat is more your style, 1 pound of ground beef, ground turkey, or ground chicken cooked with this Spicy Taco Seasoning would also be a great addition to this Black Bean Pasta Recipe for those wanting to add additional protein to their meal.

Vegetable Additions

Yes, of course! Corn, extra bell peppers (try a mix of green, red, yellow, and orange for extra color) would be great, easy additions to this black bean pasta.

To add extra green, try adding some chopped fresh spinach. If you want to try using frozen spinach, add it in with the sauteed vegetables to thaw and allow some of the moisture to evaporate. (Related: How to Freeze Spinach)

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Nutrition Information
Yield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 319Total Fat 4gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 0mgSodium 806mgCarbohydrates 58gFiber 13gSugar 9gProtein 15g

GoodLifeEats.com offers recipe nutritional information as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although GoodLifeEats.com makes every effort to provide accurate information, these figures are only estimates.

Did you make this recipe?

I’d love it if you let me know what you think! Snap a photo and tag me on Instagram at @goodlifeeats with the hashtag #goodlifeeatsrecipes so I can see what you’re cooking up in YOUR kitchen!

Photography: photos taken in this post are by Rachael from Set the Table.

Stephanie

Wednesday 25th of July 2018

Ack! I'm not finding the original recipe on Good Cheap Eats- is it available elsewhere??? I've made this a bunch of times and absolutely loved it.

Katie

Wednesday 25th of July 2018

It looks like the owner of Good Cheap Eats removed it from her site. I know it have it written down somewhere. Give me a few days to look for it and I'll update this post to include the recipe in it rather than a link to the site it is no longer posted at. I'll email you when I have this post updated. Thanks for letting me know!

Ashley

Wednesday 14th of September 2011

Made this tonight....very delicious! I added 1/2 lb of ground beef and a bit of diced chili pepper, and used Penzey's Arizona Dreaming for the spices. I froze 4 portions of the sauce, had one for dinner just now, and will have some for lunch tomorrow! Thanks!

Erica

Sunday 14th of August 2011

I made this for my family this evening, and it was excellent. We will be adding it to our recipe book! We are a vegetarian family with three young children, and it is often a challenge to find healthy meals that my kids like.

Alli

Thursday 28th of October 2010

delicious!! reminded me of a dish from another Texas favorite - Royer's in Roundtop. I'm hooked on your blog, Katie!

Jessica

Saturday 24th of April 2010

This looks quite good. I love black beans in just about anything, and the ingredients are ones that I always have on hand. Thanks!jessyburke88@gmail.com

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