There's much to love in this Mexican inspired corn and black bean pasta salad. Similar to fiesta pasta salad, this dish is filled with corn, black beans, tomatoes, and is mixed with a delicious, creamy southwestern chili lime dressing.
I originally shared this Mexican Pasta Salad recipe on June 30, 2019. The new post includes updated pictures and process shots along with an improved recipe.
Why you should make it
This Mexican inspired corn and black bean pasta salad is a family favorite. If you've heard of fiesta pasta salad, then you'll want to try this one. We love it because:
- It's a tasty vegetarian meal option, but you can add your favorite protein like chicken or shrimp.
- Relies on pantry staples for quick and easy prep and cleanup.
- Southwest flavor without being too spicy. Easily customize spice level and ingredients.
- Not just for summer, it's great any time of the year!
Ingredients and substitutions
Pasta - A short cut pasta like cavatappi. It's a fun corkscrew shaped pasta. You can use farfalle or bowties, penne, macaroni- whichever is you favorite!
Corn - canned or fresh. I have been reaching for canned to speed up the prep time. If fresh corn is in season, you can use it raw or just boil, grill or roast it.
Black beans - I use canned black beans that have been rinsed drained. You can opt to make your own from dried, if desired.
Cherry tomatoes - there are so many tomato options these days. I like cherry tomatoes when I can find them, but it seems like grape tomatoes are more common. You can use any variety of bite sized tomatoes or dice enough to make one cup.
Queso fresco - I love the mild and soft texture of queso fresco. If you like a little more punch, you can use Cotija, which tastes similar to the saltier feta cheese. You can also use feta, but if you want a mild flavor stick to queso fresco. If you want to use shredded mozzarella, cheddar (delicious) or Monterrey Jack, add it before tossing in the dressing.
Jalepeño and cilantro - I don't find jalepeños too hot, but if you do, just sub with green or red peppers. You can also leave them out. If you like fresh cilantro, add it in.
Start with clean hands and work area.
Step 1: Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. Drain in a colander and let dry on a large sheet pan or platter.
Step 2: Add pasta to a large bowl. Toss with one tablespoon of olive oil, then add the corn, black beans, tomatoes, and jalepeño.
Step 3: Make the dressing by combining mayonnaise, sour cream, lime zest, lime juice, garlic, and chlli powder.
Step 4: Pour dressing over salad and gently mix.
Top with sliced black olives, diced avocado, lime juice, more cheese, and cilantro leaves, if desired.
Sometimes this salad is called Fiesta pasta salad, Mexican pasta salad, or Southwestern pasta salad.
You can change up this vegetarian corn and black bean pasta salad easily.
Add meat: Add boneless skinless chicken breasts that's been sliced or chopped. Or try shredded rotisserie chicken, pulled pork, grilled shrimp, crab- the possibilities are endless!
Spicy: since this corn and black bean pasta salad is mild, you may want to add more jalepeño, or use a serrano pepper. Add a pinch (or more) of cayenne to the dressing.
Dietary: Use gluten free pasta like Banza. Here's an article on the some of the best tasting gluten free pasta out right now. If you have a dietary concern, always read nutrition labels.
Cook pasta completely rather than to al dente. Slightly undercooked pasta will absorb the dressing and may dry out the salad. You can make extra dressing if this happens, or toss with some olive oil right before serving.
Store covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Best served within 24 hours, but will keep for up to 3 or 4 days.
Freezing isn't recommended.
People also ask
3 or 4 days
Yes, when using canned black beans in a salad, they should be rinsed and drained. This will remove the black sticky residue and reduce the sodium level.
Canned black beans are an excellent source of fiber and protein and are also low in fat.
Corn and Black Bean Pasta Salad
For the Salad:
- 8 ounces short cut pasta such as rotini or cavatappi cooked according to package directions
- 1 tablespoon olive or other mild flavored oil
- 15 ounce can corn about 1 cup to 1 ½ cups; drained; use fresh corn if desired or in season
- 15 ounce can black beans drained and rinsed
- 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes halved or quartered
- 1 jalepeño finely chopped
- ½ cup crumbled queso fresco, Cotija, feta or to taste
- Fresh cilantro for garnish optional
- Sliced or chopped black olives optional
- Sliced or diced avocado optional
- Lime wedges optional
For Creamy Chili Lime Dressing
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup sour cream
- Zest from 1 lime
- 2 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 clove garlic chopped finely use fresh for best flavor or sub with ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
- 1 teaspoon pepper sauce such as jalepeño or traditional Tabasco
For the salad
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain in a colander and let dry on a sheet pan or platter.
- Add pasta to a large bowl. Toss with olive oil. Add drained corn, drained and rinsed black beans, cut cherry tomatoes, and chopped jalepeno.
- Pour dressing over pasta salad, mixing gently to combine.
- Sprinkle cheese over salad.
- Top with black olives, avocado, cilantro leaves and lime wedges, if desired.
For the Creamy Chili Lime Dressing
- Mix all ingredients together until well combined.
- Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.