Southwest Pasta Salad Recipe

When it comes to wonderful and tasty sides, pasta salad is up there with the best of them. There are hundreds of different ways to dress up pasta salad, and when it comes to added ingredients, the possibilities are endless. Recipe developer Hayley MacLean came up with her own twist on a classic dish, adding a Southwest style with a little kick. It boasts a creamy base and plenty of spices that are sure to make your taste buds dance.

This side pairs the pasta and sauce with a melody of healthy veggies, and the result is one heck of a dish. "I love the fun flavors in this pasta salad," MacLean raves. "The bright chipotle and lime from the creamy dressing coat all of the ingredients wonderfully, and the fresh, crisp veggies are such a great textural contrast to the soft noodles." We must admit that we love getting a bite of a crunch with a bite of pasta! "This dish is great to serve during family gatherings or while having friends over for a football game," MacLean adds. "It is easy to make it in large amounts and it stays delicious for days, so it is great to make prepare ahead of time." Keep reading to find out how to make this tasty recipe. 

Gather the ingredients for Southwest pasta salad

Ready to get started? If so, you will need to make a trip to the grocery store and gather all of the required items. For the creamy base, you will need some mayonnaise and sour cream. To add a little kick to this Southwest-inspired dish, grab some chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. You will also need cilantro and a few other spices like garlic powder, onion powder, dried chives, dried parsley, and dried oregano.

The recipe also calls for a lime and a box of tri-color rotini pasta. In terms of veggies, grab a can of black beans, a few cups of fire-roasted corn, and a large bell pepper. Also, get a medium red onion, grape tomatoes, a large avocado, cilantro, salt, and pepper to taste, and sliced scallions for garnish.

Mix the mayo, sour cream, and spices

Now that you have all of the ingredients in front of you, it's time to get mixing! Take out a small bowl that's suitable to mix in, and add in your mayonnaise and sour cream first. Next, throw in the chipotle peppers. As a reminder, you should have minced the peppers ahead of time. Then, throw in the minced cilantro, followed by the garlic powder, onion powder, chives, and parsley. 

"The spice level on this is low, the chipotle peppers are seeded before mincing, so they add flavor but not much heat," MacLean shares. "To up the spice level, keep the seeds in or add a spoonful or two of the adobo sauce from the can of chilis to the dressing mix!" 

To complete the mixture, add the oregano and lime juice. Use a whisk to mix everything together and then set it to the side.

Cook the rotini

This is the only part of the recipe that involves cooking, and this step is as easy as possible. Grab your rotini and a pot of water, and place it on the stove. Read the back of the box to find specific cooking instructions for the brand you purchased since all instructions will vary. "In place of rotini, bowtie or shell pasta would work great! If you are looking for a low-carb option, zucchini noodles can be used and are absolutely delicious," MacLean says. 

Once you finish cooking the pasta, drain it in a colander, and rinse with cold water. Allow the pasta to dry for about five minutes or so.

Combine the pasta and veggies

Once you finish the pasta, take out a large bowl that is big enough to fit all of the ingredients. Start by dumping in the cooked pasta, followed by the black beans. As a reminder, you should have drained and rinsed the black beans ahead of time. 

Next, add in the corn, bell pepper, and red onion. The last few items you will need to add include tomatoes, avocado, and chopped cilantro. You should have sliced and diced these ahead of time, which will save you some time now. Only one more step until you get to enjoy the pasta! 

Add the dressing, and chill

The last thing you need to do is pour the chipotle dressing over the top of the pasta mixture, and stir to coat all of the salad ingredients. Then, sprinkle with a little bit of salt and pepper to taste.

Use cling wrap or something similar to cover the top of the bowl, and then place it in the fridge. You'll want to let the pasta chill for at least one hour before you serve it.

Serve and enjoy

Once the hour is up, remove the pasta from the fridge, and top it with scallions. Now, plate and enjoy! "I love to serve this with some grilled chicken and asparagus, it is so nice to pair the cool pasta salad with a hot main and side dish! It is perfect to accompany any barbecued meal," MacLean shares. 

And if you have anything left over, no worries. "Leftovers are best kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days," MacLean says.

Southwest Pasta Salad Recipe
5 from 76 ratings
This pasta salad boasts a creamy base and plenty of spices that are sure to make your taste buds dance.
Prep Time
Cook Time
pasta in a bowl
Total time: 15 minutes
  • For the dressing
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 to 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon dried chives
  • ¼ teaspoon dried parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ lime, juiced
  • For the pasta salad
  • 1 (12-ounce) box tri-color rotini pasta
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 ½ cups frozen fire-roasted corn, thawed
  • 1 large red/orange/yellow bell pepper, diced
  • ½ medium red onion, diced
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large avocado, diced
  • ⅓ cup cilantro, chopped
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup sliced scallions, for garnish
  1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, chipotle peppers, minced cilantro, garlic powder, onion powder, chives, parsley, oregano, and lime juice. Set aside.
  2. Cook the rotini according to the package instructions. Then, drain, rinse with cold water, and allow to dry for about 5 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the cooked pasta, black beans, corn, bell pepper, red onion, grape tomatoes, avocado, and chopped cilantro.
  4. Pour in the chipotle dressing, and stir to fully coat the salad ingredients.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Cover and place in the refrigerator, and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.
  7. Garnish with sliced scallions.
Calories per Serving 414
Total Fat 18.5 g
Saturated Fat 3.4 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 9.4 mg
Total Carbohydrates 53.5 g
Dietary Fiber 8.9 g
Total Sugars 4.9 g
Sodium 583.3 mg
Protein 11.3 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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