Thursday, July 28, 2011

Southwestern Pasta Salad

Last week, our small group had a BBQ and I decided to bring pasta salad. But, I had a slight predicament. I didn't really have the ingredients on hand for the traditional Italian-style pasta salad, but I did have lots (and lots) of fresh cilantro. Being the Mexican-food loving family that we are, we also had corn, black beans, bell peppers and limes.

So, I set out in search for a Mexican-inspired pasta salad that kept me from making an extra trip to the grocer, and I stumbled across Lisa's recipe over on I tweaked a few things based on reviewers suggestions and my own personal tastes, and what resulted was a fresh, flavorful pasta salad that was a nice alternative to this summer favorite side dish.

Southwestern Pasta Salad - adapted from LisaKP71 from
  • 16 ounces rotini pasta...I used the colorful kind because I think it's cute :)
  • 1/4 c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • the juice of 3 limes + 1 TBSP of the lime zest
  • 2 tsp. chili powder (a little less if your tummy can't handle it, a little more if your esophagus is made of steel)
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can yellow corn, drained slightly (you want to leave some of the juice in, but not all of it)
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped 
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 c. grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 c. chopped cilantro (or a little more if you like a lot of this green goodness)
**Note - some of the reviews on allrecipes said the pasta salad was too "dry" for their liking, so I made an extra batch of the "juice" and set it aside, just in case. I ended up not using it, but if you like your pasta salad more wet, you might consider adding in a bit more lime juice, oil and spices.

Cook your pasta, drain and set aside in a large bowl (this recipe makes enough for at least 10-12 people)

In a small bowl, whisk all other ingredients except veggies and cilantro

Pour over noodles and refrigerate overnight (this really allows all the flavors to marry without making your veggies soggy and gross)

When you're ready to serve, fold in veggies and cilantro. Serve chilled.

You can also sprinkle or throw in some shredded or cubed Monterrey Jack cheese if you have that sort of thing on hand. Mine was growing green hair that day, so it unfortunately didn't make it into the pasta salad. ;)



  1. That looks great, Rachel. And, you have the perfect bowl to serve it in :)

  2. Haha at the green hair comment (I've so been there before)! That looks so tasty and I love the tri-color kind as well because you're right, it is cute!


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