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There’s no need to heat the kitchen with this Southwest Pasta Salad. It’s loaded with beans, veggies, chicken, cheese, and a cilantro-lime dressing.
This pasta salad serves 12 and costs about $17.31 to make. That works out to about $1.45 per serving. This is one of those pasta salads that taste even better the next day!
Southwest Pasta Salad Recipe
After a long day at the pool or beach, the last thing that I want to do is stand over a hot stove to make dinner. Pasta salads make dinner easy during the summer. You can make a pasta salad in the morning when it’s nice and cool and then enjoy them later in the day for lunch or dinner. Easy salads like this one are kind of my “breakfast for dinner” alternative during the summer.
Pasta salads should be packed full of flavor and not bland and unforgettable. This recipe is zesty, delicious, and packed with so many flavorful ingredients. When I bring it to a potluck, folks always ask for the recipe.
This Southwest Pasta Salad combines my love of something quick and easy to make in the summer and my LOVE for Southwest flavors. Take this to your next BBQ, potluck, or family gathering, and it will be one of the first dishes gone.
What is the best pasta for pasta salad?
For this recipe, I use Gemelli pasta, but any medium-sized pasta will work. Use pasta that has nooks and crannies.
Think the opposite of spaghetti noodles. You want something like rotini, bowtie, penne, or spiral pasta. The folds and pockets in the pasta give lots of spots to hold onto the dressing, herbs, and delicious bits of veggies and cheese.
Can you make pasta salad the day before?
Absolutely! That is the beauty of pasta salad recipes. A bonus to making these the day before is that they often taste better as they sit in the refrigerator.
What goes good with pasta salad?
Here are a few of my favorite things to serve with this Southwest Pasta Salad:
How to make Southwest Pasta Salad:
STEPS 1 & 2: First, cook the pasta and place it in an extra-large bowl to toss with lime zest. Next, make the cilantro-lime dressing.
STEPS 3 & 4: Add the veggies to the pasta. Mix everything until combined.
STEPS 5 & 6: Then add the dressing and toss until coated. Cover and chill at least 2 hours before serving. Finally, right before serving top with cheese, avocado, and tortilla strips.
How much will this Southwest Pasta Salad recipe cost to make?
RECIPE COST: $17.31
PER SERVING COST: $1.45
NOTE: The recipe prices are calculating by using name brand products from grocery store websites. The actual cost of the recipe will vary.
- 1 Pound Gemelli pasta or any other medium-shaped pasta $1.38
- zest of 4 limes $0.40
- 14-ounces canned black beans $0.86
- 14-ounces canned garbanzo beans $0.86
- 4 large Roma tomatoes $1.04
- 2 large red bell peppers $2.76
- 4 green onions $0.40
- 1 1/2 cups frozen corn $0.63
- 3 cups diced chicken $1.99
- 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese $1.39
- 1/2 cup fresh lime juice $0.52
- 1/2 cup white wine vinegar $0.11
- 6 garlic cloves $0.30
- 1 Tablespoon chili powder $0.08
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin $0.06
- 1 teaspoon salt $0.01
- 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar $0.04
- 1 1/4 cups extra virgin olive oil $2.90
- 1 cup roughly chopped cilantro $0.96
- 2 large avocados $1.36
- 1/2 cup tortilla strips $0.64
- This pasta salad makes a TON! We usually have it for dinner twice during the week and then enjoy the rest for lunches. It makes 12 main-dish servings or 24-30 side-dish servings. You can cut this recipe in half if needed.
- Make sure you have an extra-large bowl to mix this pasta salad in because you’ll need it!
More Pasta Salad Recipes:
- Easy Pasta Salad
- Food Truck Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
- Gazpacho Pasta Salad
- Italian Chopped Pasta Salad
- Poppy Seed Pasta Salad
- Zesty Italian Pasta Salad
Southwest Pasta Salad
- 1 lb Gemelli pasta or any other medium-shaped pasta
- 4 limes zested
- 14 oz can black beans rinsed and drained
- 14 oz can garbanzo beans rinded and drained
- 4 large Roma tomatoes diced
- 2 large red bell peppers diced
- 4 green onions chopped
- 1 ½ cups frozen corn
- 3 cups cooked and diced chicken
- 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese
- ½ cup fresh lime juice
- ½ cup white wine vinegar
- 6 large garlic cloves peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 Tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 ¼ cups extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup roughly chopped cilantro
- 2 large avocados peeled and diced
- ½ cup tortilla strips
- lime wedges
- freshly chopped cilantro
- Cook pasta according to package instructions, and drain and rinse with cold water. Place pasta in extra-large bowl and toss with lime zest.
MAKE CILANTRO-LIME DRESSING:
- Add lime juice, vinegar, garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt, and sugar to a blender, and blend until smooth. With blender on low, slowly add the oil in a steady stream until incorporated and slightly thickened. Add the cilantro and pulse until combined.
FINISH PASTA SALAD:
- Add black beans, garbanzo beans, tomatoes, diced pepper, green onions, corn, and chicken to the bowl with pasta.
- Toss until combined.
- Add dressing and stir until the dressing is evenly coated over the pasta. Cover and chill at least 2 hours before serving.
- Right before serving, top with cheese, avocado, and tortilla strips. Garnish with extra lime wedges and chopped cilantro.
More Quick and Easy Recipes:
- Avocado Strawberry Spinach Wraps
- Citrus Cream Pasta
- Easy Pasta Primavera
- Ground Beef Stroganoff
- Panera’s Mac and Cheese
- Tomato Basil Pasta
This Southwest Pasta Salad first appeared on Food Folks and Fun on June 7, 2013. I have since updated the pictures and added a recipe video. One of the original images is below.