This easy southwest vegan pasta salad is packed with veggies. Think juicy cherry tomatoes, salty black olives, black beans, fire-roasted corn, scallions, and just a touch of cilantro for a pop of green goodness. The veggies get tossed with heaps of fusilli pasta and a creamy cashew-based chipotle dressing. Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, or a meat-lover through and through, this southwest vegan pasta salad is bound to wind up in your lineup of favorite summer recipes.
Some recipes just don't photograph as pretty as others.
This is one of those recipes. They can't all be lookers, ya know?
Creamy chipotle dressing: Tastes delicious, photographs meh.
But let's not judge a recipe by its look. I promise this one is praise-worthy. I'm talking summer BBQ with all your veggie-hesitant friends praise-worthy.
After recently making this Italian pasta salad, the idea for a southwest version popped into mind.
Out with the mediterranean veggies and Italian vinaigrette, and in with the fire-roasted corn, black beans, scallions, tomatoes, cilantro, and creamy chipotle dressing.
This simple vegan pasta salad comes together in 30 minutes or less, and requires a short list of easy-to-find ingredients.
To make it, you'll start by bringing a large pot of well-salted water to a boil and add eight ounces of fusilli pasta. I use red lentil fusilli for an extra-generous boost of protein (eight ounces offers 80 grams of protein).
As the pasta cooks, prepare and gather the other salad elements, including:
Cherry or grape tomatoes.
Black olives (optional).
Creamy chipotle dressing.
Once everything is prepped and ready to go, add it all to a bowl, drizzle with as much of the dressing as you'd like, toss to coat, season, and serve.
Simple as that.
Southwest Vegan Pasta Salad
- 8 ounces Fusilli pasta (I use lentil pasta for extra protein)
- 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
- 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed
- 1 cup frozen fire-roasted corn, thawed
- ¼ cup sliced black olives (optional)
- 1 bunch (6–8) scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
- Large handful cilantro leaves, finely chopped
- Creamy Chipotle Dressing (see below)
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Bring a pot of well-salted water to a rolling boil. (As they say, your pasta water should be as salted as the sea.)
- Add the pasta and cook until al dente according to package instructions. Strain.
- Meanwhile, prepare all remaining salad ingredients and set aside.
- Prepare the dressing (see recipe below).
- Add the pasta and all remaining ingredients to a large serving bowl. Drizzle with the dressing, to taste, and toss to coat.
- Taste and season with sea salt and black pepper, if desired.
- Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Serve chilled.
Creamy Chipotle Dressing
- ½ cup raw cashews* or shelled hemp seeds
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons filtered water
- 1 to 2 tablespoons finely diced chipotle pepper in adobo sauce or more, to taste (I recommend 2 tbsp)
- 1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled
- 1 ½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt or to taste
- Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender, and blend on high until emulsified. Alternatively, combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and whisk vigorously until emulsified.