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I’ve always loved pasta salads for their simplicity, and because it’s nice to have cool pasta in the summer heat. But most pasta salads seem so generic and don’t really have anything that makes them stand out or taste exceptionally good. This pasta salad is the exception. It has spices to add lots of flavor, and all sorts of yummy add-ins. I suppose it’d be great for picnics and potlucks, but I just make it as a dinner, and enjoy the leftovers at work. Keep it simple, and that way I don’t have to share! It’s also full of protein and veggies (and technically fruit since tomato and avocado aren’t vegetables), so it’s a wonderfully well rounded meal, and a great vegetarian option.Taco Pasta Salad

1 pound small shaped pasta, such as wagon wheel or bow tie
1½ cups salsa
1 (15-ounce) can corn
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 medium tomatoes, diced
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
8 ounces (2 cups) shredded cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup olive oil
1 large (or 2 small) avocado, peeled, seeded, and diced, optional

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the pasta water, then cook according to the package directions. Drain; transfer to large bowl.  Add the salsa, corn, beans, tomato, cilantro, and cheese; stir to combine.

In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, and garlic; slowly whisk in the oil. Pour the dressing over the pasta salad then toss to combine. Add avocado last, if using. Serve immediately or store in the frig for up to 1 day (longer if you don’t add the avocado). Can be served cooled or warmed.

Source: Slightly adapted from The Way the Cookie Crumbles, who adapted it from Cara’s Cravings

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