Sunday, July 12, 2009

Southwestern Wagon Wheel Pasta Salad

I am the first to admit I am not a fan of Mexican food. Whenever our group of friends suggests Mexican, I can only eat a few key dishes- nachos, quesadillas, and the occasional fajitas if I’m feeling adventurous. When this recipe started popping on the Internet, I naturally brushed it aside. Black beans, cilantro, cumin, chili powder?… not my favorite flavor combinations. However, this recipe KEPT POPPING UP EVERYWHERE, and with rave reviews.

We’re hosting a BBQ for some close friends this weekend so I thought I would give it a try… and what do you know? I loved it. Not liked it, but loved it (much to my surprise)! The dressing is a light, cilantro-lime vinaigrette, which tasted light and refreshing. Another thing I liked is that this pasta salad contains lots of vegetables as well.

As for preparation, the dish comes together easily. While the pasta cooks, you can prep the tomatoes and cilantro, whip up the dressing, and mix all the remaining ingredients together. This dish can even be served as an entrée by adding cooked, diced chicken. Be prepared- this dish makes a lot- it completely fit my 4-qt Pyrex bowl. You can easily halve this recipe as well.

1-lb wagon wheel pasta (I used mini wagon wheel pasta)
15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
10-oz package frozen corn, thawed (I used 15-oz canned corn)
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 -1/2 cups salsa
8-oz shredded Mexican-blend cheese (I used shredded sharp cheddar)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Freshly ground salt & pepper
1 avocado, diced
2 cups tortilla chips, crushed (optional)

Cilantro-Lime vinaigrette
1/2 cup olive oil
3-4 Tbsp lime juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp cumin
1-2 tsp chili powder

1. Cook the pasta al dente according to package directions. Drain and rinse well with cold water.
2. While the pasta is cooking, combine the black beans, corn, tomatoes, salsa, and cheese in a large bowl.
3. Add the cooled pasta and mix well.
4. In another bowl, make the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, lime juice, garlic, cumin and chili powder.
5. Pour over the pasta salad, add the cilantro, and mix well.
6. Season to taste with salt & pepper.
7. Just before serving, stir in the diced avocado and crushed tortilla chips.

Source: Cara’s Cravings


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