Southwestern Pasta Salad

glass bowl of garnished pasta salad

This Southwestern Pasta Salad is basically loaded with deliciousness! Filled with tons of veggies and hearty black beans – this is a crowd pleaser that will have you going back for seconds!

This post was originally published in 2018 – I’ve since updated the photos and added more content for you to enjoy!

Listen, if you’re anything like me, one of your favorite things about BBQ’s and cookouts are the side dishes. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good grilled piece of chicken or a juicy burger – but gimme the sides! From the mac and cheese, to the coleslaw and of course, desserts! Specifically though, I love a good pasta salad. 

ingredients for pasta salad in bowls/measuring cups

Not Your Average Pasta Salad 

This is definitely not your average pasta salad! It’s loaded with so many ingredients that meld together perfectly! It’s crisp, cool and refreshing and the perfect side dish for any Summer get together!

I love that it’s one of those “throw ingredients into a bowl” and mix together types of meals. It’s also cool and refreshing which is great for me because hello 90+ degree weather, NC summer!

chopped ingredients for pasta salad in bowl with taco seasoning on top

It’s creamy, slightly spicy, crunchy and just so delicious. From the crunchy veggies you add like red onion, green bell pepper to the hearty black beans. There are creamy chunks of avocado for extra goddess and of course, I had to add an extra creamy element – hello sour cream! 

This mixed with the lime juice makes sure that you get a super creamy and delicious pasta salad. The cute little bowtie pasta is the perfect pasta to use for this dish because it gets coated in the other ingredients! 

mixing together pasta salad in glass bowl

Oh! And let’s talk about seasoning this salad. A little bit of taco seasoning really goes a long way. It basically tastes like a taco and mac and cheese had a baby. Minus a lot of the cheese, butter and flour. You get what I mean, right?

close up of garnished pasta salad

It also absolutely works as a MAIN dish. Yup, that’s right. I could easily eat a large bowl of this for dinner and call it a night! You could even meal prep it at the beginning of the week and have it for lunch each day. It’s super filling!

Ingredients You Need: 

  • Bowtie pasta
  • Green bell pepper
  • Red onion
  • Avocado
  • Sour cream
  • Cilantro
  • Black Beans
  • Rotel (tomatoes with green chiles)
  • Cheese
  • Lime Juice
  • Spices

And that’s it! It’s super simple as well. You basically just prep all of the above, make the pasta, dump said pasta in a large bowl and add all of ingredients listed above. You may get an arm workout while mixing it but believe me – it’s worth it!

Substitutions/Additions 

Feel free to use whatever pasta you might have on hand. I preferred using bowtie considering it’s just so cute and I felt it really soaked up the ingredients but macaroni, rotini etc would also work. 

side view of garnished pasta salad in bowl

Want to add some additional protein? Try adding spicy grilled chicken, cooked chorizo, taco meat (use either beef or ground turkey!)

For some added crunch: crispy tortilla strips would work super well!

small white bowl of individual serving of pasta salad

Making this ahead of time? No problem! Just make sure and keep it in the fridge. If desired, feel free to add a couple of tablespoons of sour cream and the juice of a lime to make sure it’s extra creamy before serving 🙂 

two hands holding bowl with a fork about to dig into the finished dish

Hope you guys enjoy this one! XO – Haylie

Did you like this recipe? Here are some others you might like: 

Loaded Tuna Pasta Salad

Tortellini Pasta Salad 

Creamy Cucumber Pasta Salad

Thank you so much for following along here, friends! Want to see more? Be sure to follow ourbalancedbowl on Instagram and tag me with your photo if you end up making a recipe! You can also post a photo of your recipe to the Our Balanced Bowl Facebook page! Like a recipe that you saw? Follow me on Pinterest here! I always love to see your re-creations! If you do make a recipe, it would make my whole day if you were to rate and comment so I can get your feedback! Lots of love! – Haylie

5 from 3 votes
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Southwestern Pasta Salad

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 22 minutes
Servings 8 people

Ingredients

  • 12 oz bowtie pasta
  • 2/3 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • 1 handful cilantro
  • 2/3-1 cup sour cream (add more if you want it extra creamy)
  • 1 can tomatoes with green chiles (Rotel), drained
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1/3 cup spicy cheese mixture (mine was pepperjack/monterey jack)
  • juice of one lime (or two if you want it extra lime-y!)
  • 2 tsp taco seasoning (homemade or store-bought)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cayenne to taste (optional - makes it spicier!)

Instructions

  1. Cook your pasta according to the package, drain and let it cool. Dice your bell pepper, red onion and avocado. Set aside. 

  2. Open and drain the cans of tomatoes with green chiles and the black beans. Rinse the black beans.

  3. Add the cooled pasta into a large bowl. Toss with a splash of olive oil if the pasta gets sticky. Add in the diced veggies, black beans, tomatoes with green chiles, sour cream, juice of one lime, taco seasoning and cheese. Mix together until combined. Add salt, pepper and cayenne to taste. I added about a 1.5 tsp of salt, a few cracks of pepper and of course some cayenne to make it extra spicy. 

  4. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes if needed. Add cilantro prior to serving and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

NOTE: Making this ahead of time? No problem! Just make sure and keep it in the fridge. If desired, feel free to add a couple of tablespoons of sour cream and the juice of a lime to make sure it’s extra creamy before serving 🙂 

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