Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Southwest Pasta Salad

This is not your typical pasta salad, and it's totally worth all the prep work...chopping and chopping and chopping! The dressing is awesome, and would be great on a plain salad as well! Our Best Bites never lets me down!

½ lb bowtie pasta
1 14oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 roma tomatoes, diced or about ¾ C or halved cherry tomatoes - I used roma.
1 large red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, diced - I used green bell pepper.
½ C sliced green onions
½ C frozen fresh corn - I used canned corn.
zest from 2 limes
optional: 8 oz diced cooked chicken 

½ C Queso Fresco or Cotija Cheese - I used Queso Fresco.

6 Tbs fresh lime juice (about 3 juicy limes)
¼ C white wine or rice vinegar - I used rice vinegar.
4-5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
½ tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp coriander
½ tsp kosher or sea salt
2 tsp sugar (add a touch more if your limes are extra sour/bitter)
¾ C canola oil
½ C roughly chopped cilantro

1. To prepare dressing place Boil pasta in salted water until cooked.  While it’s cooking, prepare dressing.

2. First zest your limes and place the zest in a large salad bowl.

3. Place the lime juice, vinegar, garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt and sugar in a blender.  (Basically everything except the cilantro and oil)  Process until smooth.  With the motor running slowly, add the oil in a steady stream until incorporated.  Add the cilantro and pulse so it gets broken up, but some pieces still remain in tact.

4. When pasta is done cooking, drain and rinse immediately with cold water to cool.  Place the pasta in the large salad bowl with the lime zest.  Add black beans, tomatoes, diced pepper, green onions, corn (no need to thaw the corn),  and chicken if desired.  Toss with dressing.  Taste, and add additional salt and pepper to taste.  For best results, chill for 1 hour before serving.  Right before serving, sprinkle cheese on top.  Serve with extra lime wedges if desired.

Makes about 4-6 dinner sized servings or 10-12 side servings

Source: Our Best Bites

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