Mexicali Pasta Salad w/Chili-Lime Dressing

6 - 8 as a side dish, 4 as a main course

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: Varies


Bold and explosively flavored, this simple pasta salad is comprised of affordable ingredients - but don't think that cheap equals poor taste or quality. An equally simple but vibrant dressing rounds out the entire dish; it is filled with typical southwestern seasonings. This dish can be eaten as a side or as a main course; serve alongside barbecued food or as part of a Mexican or Tex-Mex dinner. If you don't like spicy food, omit the cayenne pepper. Of course, feel free to season to your liking. You may also wish to serve this with other toppings such as shredded cheese, small cubed avocado, or cooked ground beef. Get creative with it!


  • 8 - 12 oz. dry pasta (medium shells, rotini, or any other spiral pasta; can substitute whole wheat pasta, if desired)
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 - 3 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. chili powder (can substitute chipotle chili powder for added flavor and spiciness)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • Sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1 small red onion, sliced in thin crescents
  • 1 (15 oz.) can no salt added kernel corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14 oz.) can no salt added black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half


Cook the pasta according to the package directions in plenty of boiling water.

While the pasta is cooking, make the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/3 cup olive oil, lime juice, honey, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, cilantro, pepper and salt. Taste and tweak the seasonings to your liking, if needed. Cover and store in the refrigerator.

Drain the pasta into a colander and run under cold water until the noodles are completely cool. Add to a large mixing bowl along with the onion, corn, black beans, tomatoes and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Add the dressing and toss well to combine. Taste again for seasoning and add more salt. You will need to salt well here to compensate for no salt in the corn and beans plus the pasta water (no point in salting the water if all the salt will be rinsed off anyway). Store tightly covered in the refrigerator until needed. Toss well before serving.

NOTE: Do NOT be tempted to add the dressing before the noodles are cooled. If you do, the pasta will absorb all the dressing, rendering your pasta salad rather dry.

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