This Southwest Pasta Salad is the perfect cold pasta salad for potlucks, parties, or a quick and easy meal. It can be made in advance and Your friends and family will love this pasta salad recipe!
We LOVE making and eating pasta salads during the hot summer months because they don’t require much cooking, you only have to cook the pasta, which only takes about 10 minutes.
Plus, pasta salads can be made in advance. I always love having one in the fridge for easy lunches and dinners.
This Southwest Pasta Salad is a family favorite and always a crowd pleaser. It is simple to make and the flavors are fresh and delicious.
It has all of my favorite ingredients in one bowl. Pasta with tomatoes, avocado, corn, peppers, olives, cilantro, and MORE! This one is loaded with goodness and the refreshing lime dressing is so nice!
Table of Contents
Pasta Salad Ingredients
I love the Southwest inspired flavors in this pasta salad:
- black olives
- yellow bell pepper
- red onion
- Cotija cheese
The salad also has a simple lime dressing that pulls all of the flavors together. It is light and refreshing, which makes this salad perfect for summertime.
How to Make Southwest Pasta Salad
- Use small pasta, Ditalini pasta works best. You can find this cut of pasta at pretty much every grocery store. If you can’t find it you can use elbow macaroni. You want to use small pasta so the pasta is the same size as the other ingredients, making the pasta salad easy to eat. Our boys love the small pasta, it is very kid friendly.
- Cook the pasta, drain it, and rinse with cold water, and drain again, making sure you shake off all of the water. This is a cold pasta salad.
- While the pasta is cooking, chop up all of the ingredients and make the dressing.
- Use fresh sweet corn for best results. If you can’t find good corn, you can use frozen corn.
- If you want to bulk up the salad, you can add black beans or chicken.
How to Store
You can make this pasta salad in advance, just wait to add the avocado and Cotija cheese. When you are ready to eat and serve, add the avocado and cheese, and stir again. The pasta salad will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
More Pasta Salad Recipes
Southwest Pasta Salad
For the pasta salad:
- 8 oz small pasta
- 1 small red onion, diced (about ½ cup)
- 3 cups grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 yellow bell pepper, seeds removed and chopped
- 1 ear fresh corn, kernels removed
- 2.25 ounces sliced black olives, drained
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 large avocado, pit removed and chopped
- 1/3 cup Cotija cheese
For the dressing:
- 1/2 cup olive oil, can use avocado oil
- 1/3 cup fresh lime juice, about 4 limes
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse well to cool.
- While the pasta is cooking, combine the onion, tomatoes, pepper, corn, and olives in a large mixing bowl.
- In a glass measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together the oil, lime juice, honey, garlic, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.
- Add the cooked pasta to the bowl with the vegetables, and pour the dressing over the pasta and vegetables. Stir until all of the ingredients are well coated. Sprinkle cilantro over the pasta and stir again. Cover with a lid and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Add avocado and cheese right before serving and gently stir.
Have you tried this recipe?
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