Black Bean Pasta Salad with lots of southwest flavor is going to be your new go-to backyard BBQ dish! This recipe makes enough to feed a crowd, but don’t worry if you have leftovers (you probably won’t though), it just gets better as it sits and will make a great easy lunch!
BBQ season is almost here. Memorial Day marks the start of all backyard summer fun in the Chicago area and you’re going to need to be prepared with a great go-to dish to bring to all the parties. I love attending BBQs – the nice weather, the socializing, the carefree casual atmosphere, the drinks – but for someone following a plant based diet, the food usually leaves something to be desired. I generally end up eating from the veggie tray and maybe some fruit. Both of those are good options, and even delicious, but not very filling. And if I’m going to indulge in a few adult beverages, I need something a little heartier. So, today I’m bringing you this Southwest Black Bean Pasta Salad.
True to my usual style, I loaded this pasta salad up with lots of veggies. I used black beans for a protein punch and lots of veggies you’d find in your typical southwest fare: red peppers, corn, avocado, tomato. I added in some red onion and zucchini, too, just for good measure.
Zucchini isn’t necessarily a veggie you find frequently in southwest cooking, but it works really well with the other flavors. And even if you don’t generally like zucchini, I think you might find you like it in this Black Bean Pasta Salad. I use it raw so it maintains it’s crunch and doesn’t become slimy. It’s more mild tasting when raw, as well.
I like to dice all the veggies very close to the same size which makes it easier to eat.
Kicked Up Dressing
You’re probably already familiar with my Creamy Cumin Ranch Dressing (if you’re not, you should be – it’s a huge hit!) and I knew I wanted to use it here when I first started thinking about this recipe in my head (pretty much right after I posted the dressing recipe – what took me so long to actually make it?!). As flavorful as that dressing is on it’s own, I knew the flavor wouldn’t come across as pronounced once I mixed it with all the veggies and, especially, the pasta. So, I decided to kick it up a notch and add even more southwest flavor with the addition of 2 jalapeños blended right in. I also added extra spices to help bring those flavors out once everything is all mixed together. I removed the ribs and seeds from my jalapeños because I’m feeding kids, too, and didn’t want to overwhelm with the heat. However, if you like things hot, feel free to leave the peppers (or maybe just one of them) intact when you throw them in the blender.
Feed a Crowd
This recipe makes a LOT – about 14 cups! It’s meant to bring to a potluck to feed a crowd. And, since it’s dairy free and egg free, it will be fine sitting on the buffet table without going rancid. You can’t say as much about that suspect coleslaw or potato salad that someone else brought!
But, as great as this is as a party dish, it honestly makes a great dinner or lunch, too. You could easily cut the recipe in half, but don’t be afraid to have leftovers either. This Southwest Black Bean Pasta Salad just gets better as it sits. Don’t add all the dressing at once. Add enough to coat and then stir in more right before serving to make it extra creamy.
Southwest Black Bean Pasta Salad
Now, who wants to take a big bite? Don’t eat before going to the BBQ you were invited to this summer, just bring this flavorful, hearty, dairy free dish instead! Be prepared to share because omnivores are going to love it, too. By the way, this pairs magnificently with a margarita!
If you try it, please leave me a comment below with your feedback. You can also find me on social media. Be sure to tag @veggie_inspired and #veggieinspired so I’m sure to see it. Enjoy!
- 16 oz rotini noodles (or your fave noodle, gluten free if desired), cooked according to package directions
- 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (or 1 15 oz can)
- Kernels from 2 ears of fresh corn* (or about 1 1/2 cups - canned or thawed frozen is fine in a pinch)
- 1 red bell pepper (diced)
- 3/4 cup diced zucchini
- 1 cup grape tomatoes (quartered)
- 3/4 cup diced red onion
- 1 avocado (diced)
- salt/pepper to taste
Start soaking the cashews for the Creamy Jalapeno Ranch Dressing (Remember you're making a double batch of the Cream Cumin Ranch Dressing for this.)
- Bring the water for the rotini to a boil and follow the directions on your package of noodles.
- While the noodles are cooking, prep/chop all the veggies, except the avocado, and place them in a large bowl.
- When the noodles are done, let them cool to almost room temp before mixing them into the veggie mix.
- Finish making the dressing: Place all the ingredients for a double batch of Creamy Cumin Ranch Dressing to a high speed blender. Add the remaining extra ingredients listed above for the dressing and puree until smooth. It may taste a bit strong on it's own, but once mixed with the pasta and veggies, it will tone down.
- Pour the dressing over the pasta and veggies, using as much or as little as you like. I like to add just enough to coat at first....some of it gets absorbed by the noodles as it sits....then add more just before serving. Taste for seasoning and add more salt/pepper/cumin, etc., if desired. A squeeze of lime would be great too.
- Cover the pasta salad and store in the fridge until ready to serve. Store any extra dressing in an airtight container in the fridge as well. Dice the avocado and add just before serving. You can serve the pasta salad cold or at room temperature. It gets better as it sits!
~Fresh sweet corn is preferred when available. I like it raw when it's super fresh and sweet, but this would also be great with kernels cut from a grilled ear of corn too.
~You can make the dressing up to 1-2 days ahead.
~You can make the whole salad the day before too...it only gets better as it sits. Just wait to add the avocado until just before serving so it doesn't get brown.