Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Southwest Pasta Salad

This has to be my new favorite dish. I. LOVE. IT. It doesn't get any better than this. Ok, it could be considered "chick food" but I guess no one gave my hubs the memo cause he ate it up!! It's completely delicious and I can guarantee that if you take this to any sort of dinner party, it'll be the hit and people will be begging you for the recipe. Yep folks, it's that good. It's the best because you can have it as a side dish or add chicken and make it a main course. We had it with quesadillas and it was the perfect dinner (just like Our Best Bites suggested.) Any way you have it, you'll love it.

1/2 lb bowtie pasta
1 (14oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 roma tomatoes, diced or about 3/4 C or halved cherry tomatoes (I actually used canned petite diced tomatoes cause I had it - delish)
1 large red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup frozen fresh corn
zest from 2 limes
optional: 8 oz diced cooked chicken
1/2 cup shredded pepper-jack cheese

6 Tbs fresh lime juice (about 3 juicy limes)
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
4-5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander (I didn't use this)
1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt
2 tsp sugar (add a touch more if your limes are extra sour/bitter)
3/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro

Boil pasta in salted water until cooked. While it's cooking, prepare dressing.

First zest your limes and place the zest in a large salad bowl.

Place the lime juice, vinegar, garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt and sugar in a blender. (Basically everything except the cilantro and oil) Process until smooth. With the motor running slowly, add the oil in a steady stream until incorporated. Add the cilantro and pulse so it gets broken up, but some pieces still remain in tact.

When pasta is done cooking, drain and rinse immediately with cold water to cool. Place the pasta in the large salad bowl with the lime zest. Add black beans, tomatoes, diced pepper, green onions, corn (no need to thaw the corn), and chicken if desired. Toss with dressing. Taste, and add additional salt and pepper to taste. For best results, chill for 1 hour before serving. Right before serving, sprinkle cheese on top. Serve with extra lime wedges if desired.

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