Southwestern Pasta Salad

A Southwestern influence pasta salad packed with an explosion of bold flavors. Made with crispy corn, earthy black beans and grape tomatoes, a chili lime dressing brings all the flavors together.

The spicy dressing starts with a base of olive oil to which lime juice, honey, chile powder, cumin, cayenne and cilantro are added. It’s the smoky, spicy component of the salad and can be easily adjusted to suit your own taste.

To leave out the heat omit the cayenne. Don’t like cilantro? Use parsley instead or omit it altogether. I used chipotle chile powder which kicked up the spicy hotness a lot, using a generic chile powder won’t add spiciness, only flavor.

Between the beans and pasta (whole-grain) it’s hearty and filling enough to be eaten as a side or a main dish. It makes the best picnic and barbecue food or side dish for a Mexican or Tex-Mex inspired meal.

I love the salad exactly as is: shredded cheese, avocado, taco meat, cooked chicken, steak or even shrimp can only make it more delicious. It can be served warm, cold or at room temperature.

Southwestern Pasta Salad

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: serves 6 as a side dish

Southwestern Pasta Salad

A Southwestern influence pasta salad packed with an explosion of bold flavors.


8-12 ounces pasta (medium shells, rotini, bowties or penne)
sea or kosher salt
1/3 cup olive oil + 1 tablespoon
2-3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon chile powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne/red pepper (or more)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper
1 small red onion, thinly sliced into half moons
1 + 1/2 cups corn kernels, lightly steamed
1 can (14 ounce) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half


  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions in plenty of salted water to al dente.
  2. While the pasta is cooking make the dressing: whisk oil, lime juice, honey, chile powder, cumin, cayenne, cilantro, salt and pepper together. Taste and tweak if needed. Cover and store in refrigerator.
  3. Drain pasta and toss with a tablespoon of olive oil in a large mixing bowl and allow to cool.
  4. Add the onion, corn, beans and tomatoes with the dressing and toss well. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Store tightly covered in refrigerator; toss well before serving.

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