Southwest Pasta Salad

If you are looking for a perfect pasta salad for your next neighborhood barbecue, this is it. This pasta salad is so different than your standard every day mayo-based salad and so tasty. We actually ate this for dinner and it was completely filling. I don't know what it is about Southwest flavors, but they are just my kind of jam. I can't get enough.

Southwest Pasta Salad
Adapted from Our Best Bites 
3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice (about 1 1/2 small, juicy limes)
2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. garlic, minced
3/4 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. canola oil
1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro

Pasta Salad
zest from 1 lime
1/2 lb. bowtie pasta, cooked according to directions
1 (14 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup halved grape tomatoes
1/2 cup sliced red onions
1/2 cup fresh corn, cooked
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup queso fresco or feta cheese

1. For the dressing: Process lime juice, vinegar, garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt and sugar in a blender until smooth. With the blender running on slow speed, add the oil in a steady stream until incorporated. Turn off the blender and add cilantro. Pulse 5-6 times so cilantro gets broken up but some pieces still remain intact.
2. For the pasta salad: Zest limes and place zest in a large salad bowl. Place cooled, cooked, drained pasta in a large salad bowl with lime zest.
3. Add beans, tomatoes, pepper, onions and corn. Toss with dressing. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. For best results, chill 1 hour before serving. Right before serving, sprinkle cheese on top.


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