Southwestern Pasta Salad

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Steal the show at your next cookout, with this hearty southwestern pasta salad. Bursting with hearty black beans, juicy bell pepper, and sweet summer corn kernels in a zesty cilantro-jalapeño dressing!

Pasta salad is such a great idea in theory, but it can really be so bad! I’ve had way to many soggy pasta salads made with boring veggies and bottled salad dressing.

Well it doesn’t have to be like that! This was the best pasta salad I’d ever tasted. My husband said it tasted like summer on a plate. The cilantro dressing is full of flavor and I had a hard time resisting eating it from a spoon. This one is absolutely perfect alongside a black bean burger, and perfect for wowing vegans and non-vegans alike.

Southwest Pasta Salad Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need!

  • Rotini pasta
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Olive oil
  • Shelled walnuts
  • Jalapeño pepper
  • Lime juice
  • Garlic
  • Cumin
  • Salt
  • Black beans
  • Red bell pepper
  • Corn (fresh or frozen!)
  • Scallions

How to Make Southwest Pasta Salad

Start by cooking your pasta. Boil it in some salted water according to the package directions, then drain it and give it a rinse in some cool water.

While the pasta cooks and/or cools you can make the dressing. Place the cilantro, olive oil, lime juice, jalapeño, garlic, cumin, and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Blend it up until it’s almost smooth — you want the texture to be somewhat like pesto.

Place your pasta into a bowl, along with the black beans, diced red bell pepper, corn, and scallions.

Add the dressing and toss! Give your pasta salad a taste-test and make any adjustments you think are needed — more lime juice, more salt, more cumin, that kind of thing.

Dig in and enjoy!

Southwestern Pasta Salad Tips & FAQ

  • This pasta salad is best served right away, at room temperature. Most pasta salads keep pretty well, and I often prefer them chilled, but I find the flavor of this one is best right after it’s been prepared.
  • If you do have leftovers, they’ll keep in a sealed container in the fridge for about 3 days. I added a little extra lime juice to bring the flavor back up before serving my leftovers.
  • Can this pasta salad be made gluten-free? Yup! Just use your favorite gluten-free pasta.
  • I hate cilantro. Is there a substitute? I don’t have a substitute for this particular dish, so you might be best off using a different recipe. Try my antipasto pasta salad or Greek orzo salad.

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5 from 1 vote Print

Southwestern Pasta Salad

Steal the show at your next cookout, with this hearty southwestern pasta salad. Bursting with hearty black beans, juicy bell pepper, and sweet summer corn kernels in a zesty cilantro-jalapeño dressing!

CourseSide CuisineAmerican Prep Time 20 minutes Cook Time 10 minutes Total Time 30 minutes Servings 8 Calories 272 kcal Author Alissa


  • 8ouncesdried rotini pasta
  • 1(14 ounce or 400 gram) canblack beans,drained and rinsed
  • 1medium red bell pepper,diced
  • 1cupfresh or frozen (and thawed) corn kernels
  • 2scallions,chopped
  • Salt and pepper,to taste

For the Dressing

  • 2cupsfresh cilantro(about 1 medium bunch), packed
  • cupolive oil
  • ¼cuplime juice
  • ¼cupchopped walnuts
  • 1medium jalapeño pepper,seeded and roughly chopped
  • 3garlic cloves
  • 1teaspoonground cumin
  • ½teaspoonsalt

US Customary – Metric


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook it according to the package directions.

  2. While the pasta cooks, prepare the dressing. Place all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth.

  3. When the pasta has finished cooking, drain it into a colander and rinse the pasta with cool water.

  4. Transfer the pasta to a bowl and add the dressing, black beans, bell pepper, and corn. Toss to evenly coat everything with the dressing.

  5. Taste-test and adjust any seasonings to your liking.

  6. Serve.

Nutrition FactsSouthwestern Pasta SaladAmount Per ServingCalories 272Calories from Fat 104% Daily Value*Fat 11.6g18%Saturated Fat 1.5g8%Sodium 242mg10%Potassium 326mg9%Carbohydrates 35.5g12%Fiber 5.3g21%Sugar 2.3g3%Protein 8.7g17%Calcium 32mg3%Iron 2mg11%* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


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I just made this and it’s absolutely wonderful – the dressing is AMAZING! Thank you for the great recipe. I’m definitely going to make this again and again.


  • Hi, I’m Alissa! I’m a former attorney turned professional food blogger. I love creating vegan recipes with bold flavors!

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