February 1, 2011

Southwest Pasta Salad

Southwest Pasta Salad

I didn’t have chicken prepared for this dish, found at Our Best Bites, so I pulled out eight chicken tenders from the freezer, put them in a large skillet and added all the ingredients for Taco Chicken.  I let it simmer, covered, until cooked through, about 15 minutes.  I had the pasta water set to boil while the chicken cooked, chopped the veggies while my oldest daughter grated the zest off the limes and had everything ready to eat in under 45 minutes.  This salad makes a TON.  Definitely something you could make to share or take.  Serves at least 6 adults as a main dish and 12 as a side dish.

Ingredients

  • 14.5 oz. bowtie pasta
  • 1 14 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced or about 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen fresh corn
  • zest from 3 limes
  • optional: 8 oz. cooked chicken, diced (this is fantastic)
  • 1/2 cup grated Pepper Jack cheese

Dressing:

  • 6 Tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 3 juicy limes)
  • 1/4 cup white wine or rice vinegar
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

Directions 

1.  Zest the limes over a large salad bowl then add the beans, tomatoes, peppers, onions, & corn and set aside.

2.  Boil pasta in salted water until cooked.

3.  While the pasta cooks, prepare dressing:  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. 

5.  Place the pasta & chicken in the large bowl with the lime and vegetables.  Toss with dressing. 

For best results, chill for 1 hour before serving.  Right before serving, sprinkle cheese on top.

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