Southwestern Pasta Salad

Packed with corn, beans, green chile and peppers, this Southwestern Pasta Salad packs quite a flavorful punch.  It’s a great summer side dish!

This Southwestern Pasta Salad post is sponsored by Cabot Creamery, but the recipe and opinions are entirely my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Spiced!

Packed with corn, beans, green chile and peppers, this Southwestern Pasta Salad packs quite a flavorful punch.  It's a great summer side dish!We love all types of summer food around here, and I for one couldn’t be more excited about the return of summer.  Long days playing frisbee in the backyard, taking the dogs for walks and firing up the grill and/or smoker.  That’s how I spend my summer days.  Oh, and eating summer food.  That’s definitely high up there on the list, too!

At the end of last summer, we got into a kick of “grilling” hot dogs over an open fire.  Have you ever done this?  It’s amazing!  One of our COVID projects last year was cutting down a bunch of scrub trees around the edge of our property.  There were also a bunch of dead trees that had fallen over the years, and I chainsawed those up into burnable logs.  That meant we had the firepit going all day on the weekends.  And of course we took advantage of that by roasting marshmallows on a regular basis.

Packed with corn, beans, green chile and peppers, this Southwestern Pasta Salad packs quite a flavorful punch.  It's a great summer side dish!

Then one day, Laura had the best idea – she suggested we put hot dogs on sticks and cook them over the open flame.  Woah.  Mind blown.  I mean I know this is a common camping meal, but we don’t camp.  We all had so much fun cooking our hot dogs on the fire.  I’m looking forward to restarting that tradition now that the summer has returned here in upstate New York.

Southwestern Pasta Salad

As delicious as those fire-roasted hot dogs were, I think this Southwestern Pasta Salad might be even better.  We made a batch of this pasta salad last Autumn, and it was the perfect accompaniment to grilled hot dogs.  For this Southwestern Pasta Salad, I started with a base of sour cream + mayo.  I often use half-mayo and half-sour cream in pasta salads as a way to cut down on the calories without losing the flavor.

Packed with corn, beans, green chile and peppers, this Southwestern Pasta Salad packs quite a flavorful punch.  It's a great summer side dish!

The concept for this Southwestern Pasta Salad actually comes from my mother-in-law’s Antipasto Salad.  That pasta salad is easily one of my top 3 favorite summer side dishes.  We make it several times each summer – in fact, there have been times when we’ve eaten that pasta salad as a meal by itself.

However, the last time we made that Antipasto Salad, I started wondering what would happen if I totally flipped the flavor profile on its head.  I settled on southwestern flavors, and that’s how this Southwestern Pasta Salad was born.

For the southwestern flare to this pasta salad, I went with a combination of fresh corn, black beans, bell peppers, tomatoes and avocado.  The recipe below includes amounts of each, but you can obviously play with the proportions – that’s what makes cooking fun, right?  Love avocados?  Add an extra 1-2 into the mix.  Find a batch of particularly tasty fresh corn?  Double (or even triple) the corn in this recipe.

Packed with corn, beans, green chile and peppers, this Southwestern Pasta Salad packs quite a flavorful punch.  It's a great summer side dish!I already mentioned the sour cream + mayo “sauce” above, but it’s worth noting again how flavorful this one is.  There is a ton of southwestern flavor packed into this mixture!  From the green chilies to the cilantro, lime juice and cumin, this sauce just screams deliciousness!  In fact, I could see this sauce being used on tacos or perhaps on grilled chicken.  But for today, that sauce is destined for this Southwestern Pasta Salad.

And the real king of the show is finishing this pasta salad with chunks of Cabot’s Pepper Jack cheese.  My mother-in-law tops her Antipasto Salad with cubed provolone cheese, and we almost always run out of cheese before we finish the salad.  With that thought in mind, I realized that Pepper Jack would be perfect for topping this southwestern-themed pasta salad.

Packed with corn, beans, green chile and peppers, this Southwestern Pasta Salad packs quite a flavorful punch.  It's a great summer side dish!Cabot’s Pepper Jack cheese is one of my go-to’s (along with their Monterey Jack cheese) whenever I need a good creamy, melting cheese for baking.  Both cheeses are great for snacking and baking, and I always make sure to keep a couple packages of each in the refrigerator.  However, this time, there’s no baking needed.  The Pepper Jack cheese gets cubed up and sprinkled on top of the pasta salad right before you serve it.  And if a couple cubes of cheese go missing in the process?  I won’t tell anyone!

If you aren’t familiar with Cabot Creamery, then you need to be!  Cabot is a co-op made up of hundreds of farm families throughout New York and New England.  Cabot makes a whole assortment of dairy products from cheeses to butters to yogurts.  (Their Lowfat Vanilla Bean Greek Yogurt is a staple breakfast item in our house!)  While the milk for Cabot’s products is produced on a local level, Cabot itself has a much larger footprint.  Their cheeses (and other dairy products) regularly win awards at national and international cheese festivals.  Next time you see a package of Cabot cheese in the store, pick it up.  One bite, and you’ll know why they keep winning so many awards!

Packed with corn, beans, green chile and peppers, this Southwestern Pasta Salad packs quite a flavorful punch.  It's a great summer side dish!Returning to our Southwestern Pasta Salad, this one is like most pasta salads in that it benefits from an overnight slumber in the fridge.  When you first make this recipe, you can taste each of the different ingredients.  However, overnight the flavors meld together into a delicious combination of southwestern-y goodness.

If you’re looking for a yummy side dish for summer grilling, then put this Southwestern Pasta Salad on the menu.  It’s a delicious and fun combination – although you might want to have an extra block of Cabot Pepper Jack cheese on hand.  You know, just in case you run out…or in case you eat all of the first block while you’re making the pasta salad.  Cheers!

Did you make a batch of this Southwestern Pasta Salad at home?  Leave a comment, or snap a photo and tag me (@Spicedblog) and Cabot (@CabotCheese) on Instagram.  We’d love to see your version!

Packed with corn, beans, green chile and peppers, this Southwestern Pasta Salad packs quite a flavorful punch.  It's a great summer side dish!

Southwestern Pasta Salad

Packed with corn, beans, green chile and peppers, this Southwestern Pasta Salad packs quite a flavorful punch.  It's a great summer side dish!
5 from 6 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Chilling Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 40 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 343kcal

Ingredients

For the Pasta Salad

  • 16 oz. ditalini pasta
  • 15 oz. black beans
  • 2 ears fresh corn or (1 15.25 can of corn, drained)
  • 1 cup diced red onions
  • 2 bell peppers diced (I used 1 green and 1 orange)
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes halved
  • 1 avocado diced
  • 8 oz. Cabot Pepper Jack cheese cut into ½” cubes

For the Sauce

  • cup sour cream
  • cup mayonnaise
  • 14.5 oz. diced tomatoes and green chilies
  • 4 oz. diced green chilies
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 3 Tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper

Instructions

  • Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Rinse and drain the pasta in cold water.
  • Place pasta in a large mixing bowl and add black beans, corn, red onions, bell peppers and tomatoes; stir until well combined.
  • Using a separate mixing bowl, add all of the Sauce ingredients; stir until well combined. Add mixture to the bowl with the pasta; stir until well combined.
  • Cover and refrigerate until cold.
  • Before serving, top with avocado and cheese cubes.

Packed with corn, beans, green chile and peppers, this Southwestern Pasta Salad packs quite a flavorful punch.  It's a great summer side dish!

Looking for more tasty pasta salad recipes?  Check out these other favorites, too:

Italian Antipasto Salad: This delicious pasta salad is perfect for summer picnics and barbecues!Italian Antipasto Salad

This Confetti Pasta Salad with Lemon Dijon Dressing is the perfect side dish for summer entertaining!Confetti Pasta Salad

With a nod to the Windy City, this Chicago Hot Dog Pasta Salad is a tasty way to celebrate warm summer days in the backyard!Chicago Hot Dog Pasta Salad

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22 Comments

  1. Will be making this soon can i use vegan cheese / sour cream and mayo as am a vegan can i skip bell peppers as am not a big fan of it i love pasta soooooooooooooo much i never had salad before perfect for my after office meals will dm you if i make this and let you know how it goes Thanks Ramya

    1. Hey Ramya! You can absolutely adjust this recipe to fit your personal preferences – pasta salads are great like that. Don’t like bell peppers? Leave ’em out! Like avocados? Add another one! Either way, I hope this recipe offers some inspiration! 🙂

  2. Now, I love this! I love making antipasti salads. It’s like my favorite hors d’oeuvres mixed up with pasta! I really like the Southwestern slant, though. And your sauce is fabulous. It’s a perfect summer salad…I’d just have to include cilantro on top!

    1. I am with you 100%, Mimi! I love antipasti salads – and when they’re in pasta salad form? Even better! This sauce is packed with southwestern flavor, and it really made for a fun and different pasta salad. I’m with you on the extra cilantro, too!

  3. 5 stars
    David, never ever underestimate the yumminess of cheese, especially Cabot’s Pepper Jack cheese. My cheese days are limited so I pick my consumption wisely and this is a very wise way to enjoy my restricted cheese consumption. Alas, as you know, no Cabot cheese here as we as no Pepper Jack, but our cheesemonger has a Spanish pepper cheese that will suit me.
    Thanks for the perfect bbq side dish as we’re finally able to plan some.

    1. I absolutely agree, Ron. Cheese is magical. I do think this is a good recipe for using some of that valuable cheese space! I hope you get a chance to get outside and do some grilling/smoking soon, my friend. I’ve been thinking about you over there!

  4. 5 stars
    Pasta salad is a summer essential and I’m always looking for new versions. This Southwestern take is really calling my name, David. So excited to try it!

    1. I couldn’t agree more, Marissa! Summer just isn’t summer until a pasta salad arrives. 🙂 This southwestern version is packed with flavor, and we really enjoyed it! Thanks so much!

  5. Of course I’ve had hot dogs on sticks! When I was a kid (30 years ago +), we didn’t have any marshmallows, but roasting sausages and bread (And a few things more – don’t recall them all. Cheese for sure too, but cheese is a bit tricky to roast!) over the open fire was a huge deal. So delicious and fun! And this pasta salad? Do delicious and fun, too! Loving all the textures and flavours going one, I particularly love the addition of sour cream.

    1. Wait – you roasted cheese!? How in the world did you do that? I think this calls for a blog post – I need instructions…and pictures. 🙂

      Pasta salads are one of my favorite summer recipes (in addition to grilled foods, of course), and this one is certainly packed with flavor. I hope you enjoy it!

  6. 5 stars
    I LOVE pasta salads that are even better the next day. Few things are more rewarding than making a delicious dish that you can enjoy for multiple meals. And this sauce! I can tell this is the type of sauce that I constantly crave. These flavors and textures complement each other so perfectly David, what a great summer staple you’ve created!

    1. I’m with you, Shannon. Pasta salads are one of those recipes that benefit from a rest in the fridge overnight. On one level, it might be annoying to make the recipe the day before…but I actually like that since it leaves me less to do on the day I serve it! Either way, this sauce + the southwestern flavors in this pasta salad are delicious. I hope you get a chance to try it out! 🙂

  7. am I the only sad, lonely non-eater of pasta? 🙂 It just doesn’t appeal to me with its soggy texture and bland flavour. sorry that sounds mean of me but it’s just my preference. but your flavours here sound great david! I love corn and avos, and lime and chilli and the other fab ingredients here. don’t think badly of this poor pasta pooper!
    cheers
    Sherry

    1. Hmmm. No pasta at all? You could probably make a version of this recipe without pasta! Although I have to wonder – we have some pasta brands here (namely store brands) that end up bland and soggy. There are other pasta brands that cook up perfectly. I wonder if this is a difference in the types of pasta offered down there? Either way, I say use these flavors to inspire a different kind of dish – it’ll still work! 🙂

    1. I’m with ya, Kathy – pasta salads hold a special spot in my heart…err, belly. 🙂 I love the southwestern vibe in this recipe! Thanks!

  8. 5 stars
    As you may have guessed from my recent blog posts David we’re all about salad at the moment too. There’s only so many salad recipes I’ve got and I love yours here especially with the addition of black beans. Gonna give this a try this summer. Thanks!

    1. I hear ya, Neil – we are solidly moving into salad season! I don’t know what the Glasgow weather is like recently, but we’ve been downright hot the past few days. Those types of days just call for cold dishes like this pasta salad! And this version with pepper jack cheese and southwestern flavors is quite tasty. Hope you guys had a good weekend over there!

    1. This pasta salad is perfect for summer potlucks, Karen! I know I always go to the pasta salads first whenever I go to a potluck/picnic. This one didn’t last long around here! 🙂

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