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.
First recipe I tried of yours. I'm a terrible cook but this was super easy. My husband and 8 year old are on their second helping. I am soooo proud!!! Thank you!!! Taste great!!!
So happy to hear you and your family are enjoying it, Marie! And wonderful to know it was easy—always a plus! Happy weekend to you.
Celeste Jackson says
I love the idea of southwest ingredients with pasta! I can't wait to try this. In fact, I might just use the leftover corn from Fathers Day to make it. Thank you!
Allison Penner says
I'll definitely be making this delicious looking salad sometime this week! Thanks for all of the recipes and inspiration, Ashley!
You're welcome! Hope you enjoy it, Allison!
Girrrrrl. This recipe has only been up for a couple of weeks and I have already made multiple batches of it.
One of my favorite things about BB recipes, aside from how great they are, is that I try so many new things when I cook them! This one is no different. I'd never heard of, let alone tried, Red Lentil Pasta. But wow, it was fantastic! I can't wait to use it in other dishes.
I've also made this dish without the pasta because I forgot to get it while I was at the store and it was still completely awesome. I'm so in love with all of the flavors- Especiallllllllllllly the Creamy Chipotle Dressing. I love that it only takes like 5 seconds to make too. I want to put it on everything I eat now.
Brynna, thanks for sharing your feedback! So happy to hear how much you're enjoying this recipe (and others, too).
Best pasta salad I've ever had!!! Will definitely be making this again 😀
What a compliment! Thanks for taking time to come back and share your thoughts, Lindsey!
Jennifer H says
This was amazing!! I loved the pasta. I made the sauce again and put it on a sandwich. I also made a sweet potato boat and layered it was all of the pasta ingredients and put the sauce on top plus avocado. I am so happy to have this in my recipe book.
So glad you're enjoying the recipe, Jennifer! Thanks for taking time out of your day to share your thoughts—means so much.
This recipe looks so good, filling and tasty. I am pinning it make it later. Thanks.
This was delicious!
So happy to hear it, Manjela! Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback!
Just finished eating this wonderful salad & the flavor was yummy & interesting! I followed the recipe except I switched out the tomatoes for avocado, since I'm not a huge tomato fan. I'll definitely make this again!
So glad you're enjoying the recipe, and thanks for taking time out of your day to come back and share your rating and adjustments. Means so much!
Sunil Dogra says
Southwest vegan pasta salad look too yummy. I will definitely taste them. Thanks for sharing.
You're welcome. Hope you enjoy it!
This dressing is incredibly good! Wow!
So glad you like it, Monika!
This is absoluely derlicious! A little spicy for me, but I'll simply adjust the next time I make this...and I will absolutely be making this again. I really don't enjoy cooking, and the ease of this recipe, along with easily accessible, simple ingredients makes it perfect for me.
Kim, this is wonderful feedback. Thank you for taking time out of your day to share—means so much. :)
Hi-Do you need to soak the cashews before making the sauce?
Hi, Jen! Only if you're not using a high-speed blender. If so, I'd recommend soaking them in very hot/boiling water for 10 minutes. Enjoy!
Kim F Fillmore says
Hi Jen - I have a Vitamix so did not need to soak the cashews. If you don't have a high-speed blender, you will achieve a smoother cashew cream by soaking. I made a second batch and adjusted the "heat" of the chipotle/adobo. This pasta is definitely going to become a regular for me.
So glad you're enjoying the recipe, Kim! Thanks for taking the time to share your tips with Jen. :)
Kim F Fillmore says
Ashley, you're most welcome! I really don't like to cook and am always excited when I find recipes that are delicious AND quick to make!
I was looking for a vegan recipe to use up some grape tomatoes I had and found this. Delicious! Like a little taste of spring/summer in the middle of January. Will make it again for sure!
Happy to hear you enjoyed it, Maryann! Thanks for taking time out of your day to come back and share your thoughts and rating. Means a lot to me and is helpful for others considering making the recipe, too. :)
About to make to “bring some summer flavor” to our seemingly endless wet winter days... but I didn’t realize the creamy sauce is made from cashews, is there a substitute you think would work well? I am new to vegan cooking and never know what to get shopping!! Thanks in advance!!
Hi, Korri! Shelled hemp seeds are a great nut-free substitute to the cashews, but if you're not in need of a nut-free substitute, then most raw nuts will work well (e.g., raw almonds, raw walnuts, etc.). Hope this helps and enjoy! :)
And hope the dish does bring some summer flavor to you! Totally feel you on the endless wet winter days.
Erin K says
This was quite good. I didn't have chipotle / adobo so I just added chili powder and a bit of cayenne powder to the sauce. I found it a bit watery - likely due to my substitution - so I added some corn starch to thicken it up.
Happy to hear you enjoyed it, Erin! Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback.