Southwestern Pasta Salad


Say goodbye to gloopy mayonnaise-covered pasta salads. We put an avocado to work to create an irresistibly creamy dressing, that won’t have any of the mayonnaise-haters running for the dusky hills. The only drawback is that the dressing will oxidize after a little while and go gray. Don’t worry, the salad will be no less delicious, but plan on serving this within an hour or two of making it. For a little heat, add thinly sliced fresh jalapeños or even some drained pickled ones. Or if you really want to turn up the temperature, add a can of chopped green chilies to the dressing before blending.

Southwestern Pasta Salad
All your favorite taco night fixings, tossed with chewy pasta and a creamy avocado vinaigrette. This salad is a great way to pack the same flavors your family loves into a different package. The avocado dressing might oxidize overnight, so don’t worry if your lunch looks a little lackluster come Monday. It’ll still taste just as good. For an extra treat, top it with a small handful of crushed tortilla chips. Get the recipe:Southwestern Pasta Salad. Photo: Greg DuPree
Hands On Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
35 mins
Serves 4 (serving size: 1⅔ cups)


  • 8 ounces campanelle or other short pasta

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more for pasta water

  • ¾ cup olive oil

  • ½ cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems

  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice (from about 2 limes)

  • 1 ripe avocado, halved, divided

  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, divided

  • 1 15.5-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels (from about 3 ears) or 1 frozen corn, thawed

  • 5 scallions, thinly sliced


  1. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes; drain and rinse pasta under cold water to cool.

  2. Meanwhile, combine olive oil, cilantro, lime juice, ½ of the avocado, ½ teaspoon of the salt, ¼ teaspoon of the pepper and ¼ cup of water in a blender and process until smooth, scraping down sides as needed.

  3. Combine pasta and avocado dressing in a large bowl and toss to combine. Add beans, tomatoes, corn, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper; toss well. Thinly slice remaining half of avocado. Serve salad topped with scallions and avocado.

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