Smoky, tangy, bright, and bursting with the fresh flavors of the season, Tex-Mex Summer Pasta Salad is the ultimate side you’ll be serving with everything. This easy to make macaroni salad is a dish the entire family will love.
Grilling season is in full effect. If you’re looking for a hearty yet bright and light side to serve alongside your Grilled Flank Steak with Peach Salsa, this is it. Combining pantry staples like pasta, beans, and canned tomatoes with a handful of fresh ingredients, this salad is the perfect balance of textures and flavors. It’s so good, it might not even make it to plates.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Meal Prep – Pasta salad is one of those dishes that just gets better as it refrigerates. Feel free to make this a day in advance.
- Accessible Ingredients – This pasta salad recipe calls for both pantry staples you probably already have on hand and everyday fresh produce. It’s as easy to shop for as it is to make.
- Balance of Flavors – There is no one flavor that over powers. The chipotle gives a little smokiness and heat while the lime adds brightness and the sour cream tames the kick.
- Customizable – Leftover grilled chicken? Throw it in. Gluten Free? Use GF pasta. You can easily adjust this pasta salad to what you like, what you have on hand, and even turn it into a complete meal.
This Tex-Mex Summer Pasta Salad brings all of the bold flavors you crave. With just twelve simple ingredients, this macaroni salad will be staring in your summer cookouts, Memorial Day celebrations, and weeknight dinners.
- Concha Shell Pasta – This shell shaped pasta that resembles an ear is the perfect shape to scoop up all of the add-ins like the tomatoes and grilled corn.
- Red Gold Tomato Love Tomatoes – Combining the finest picked ripe tomatoes with fresh chilies and a dash of seasoning, this immediately gives this pasta salad not only that Tex-Mex flavor, but also the flavor of summer ripe, juicy tomatoes.
- Black Beans – Gives texture and a kick of protein while keeping this a vegetarian pasta salad.
- Grilled Corn – Adds smokiness that echoes the chipotle but also sweetness. Feel free to use your leftover grilled corn.
- Avocado – Buttery, creamy, and rich, this adds delicate texture and flavor.
- Red Onion – Gives both a little crunch and also an assertive, savory pop.
- Queso Fresco – This crumbly cheese is mild, soft, and slightly tangy. It has a similar texture to feta, but isn’t as salty.
- Cilantro – Citrusy, fresh, and herbaceous this wakes up the entire salad.
- Sour Cream – The base for the pasta salad dressing, this is tangy and compliments the other bold flavors.
- Lime – Adds bright acidity to the dressing.
- Chipotle in Adobo – This smoked jalapeno comes in a can with a vinegar based sauce. While it does have a kick it also adds that mysterious ingredient of smoke.
- Cumin – This earthy spice is aromatic and a little citusy.
How to Make Tex-Mex Summer Pasta Salad
The only actual cooking involved for making the pasta salad recipe is simply cooking the pasta. The rest is just chopping and mixing. This is perfect for both making ahead but also if you need a last minute quick side.
Time needed: 30 minutes
Tomatoes with chilies, chipotle, grilled corn, and black beans bring all the Tex-Mex flavor to this hearty and fresh macaroni salad.
- Mise en Place
Chop all of your vegetables. Cook your pasta according to the package directions for al dente and allow to fully drain.
Add all of the ingredients for the dressing to the food processor and blend until smooth and combined.
Add the drained pasta to a serving bowl along with the remaining ingredients. Pour the dressing over the top and gently toss to coat and combine. Keep chilled until ready to serve.
- This recipe can be made completely Gluten Free by replacing the pasta with your favorite gluten free favorite.
- Like things spicy? Add another chipotle for even more of a kick. You can also add diced fresh jalapeno if desired.
- To turn this into a main course, add diced grilled chicken or even grilled shrimp to this pasta salad.
This pasta salad is a great make ahead as the flavors only get better as it sits. If you plan on making this ahead of time and then serving later, hold off on adding the avocado until you’re ready to serve. This will prevent it from browning. Without the avocado this will keep for up to five days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Once you’ve added the avocado, even with the lime in the dressing, the avocado will begin to oxidize. Keep it cover and refrigerated and it will keep for up to three days.
Top Tip for Tex-Mex Summer Pasta Salad
No one likes over cooked pasta. When boiling your pasta for pasta salad, you want to cook it for al dente, meaning it still has a little bite to it. Drain it well and then give it a rinse under cold water. Unlike pasta that’s added into sauces such as marinara, you don’t need the extra starch coating the pasta to bring the dish together. This also allows you to cook the pasta well in advance and then mix together the pasta salad when you’re ready.
If you decide to cook your pasta ahead of time, let it drain completely and then transfer it to an airtight container. If kept refrigerated it will last for a week.
Tex-Mex Summer Pasta Salad
- 1 Large Pot
- 1 colander
- 1 serving bowl
- 1 food processor or blender
Tex-Mex Pasta Salad
- 8 oz concha shell
- 1 can Tomato Love from Red Gold, diced tomatoes with chiles
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups grilled corn
- 2 avocado, diced
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 3 tbsp queso fresco, crumbled
- 3 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
Chipotle Lime Dressing
- 3 tbsp sour cream
- juice of 1 lime
- 1 chipotle in adobo
- 1 tsp cumin
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions for al dente. Drain well.
- Add the ingredients for the dressing to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
- Add the pasta and the remaining ingredients to a serving bowl.
- Pour the dressing over the top. Gently toss to fully coat and combine.
- Keep chilled until ready to serve.