Thursday, January 13, 2011

Southwestern Chicken Pasta Salad

I was craving Mexican last night (go figure) but wanted something different from the regular tacos or enchiladas. I came across this recipe on Our Best Bites and was determined to try it. I changed a few things in the original recipe to make it a little creamier and more suited to my tastes and it turned out great! It was extremely healthy with a lot of fresh vegetables and high in fiber due to the black beans. The sauce was a sweet vinaigrette with a prominent lime-cilantro flavor. It's a cold pasta and would be fabulous for a meal on a hot summer afternoon with a big glass of lemonade. You can also remove the chicken and voila: a perfect side dish! My husband and I both loved it and I've been snacking on the leftovers since dinner last night. (Picture courtesy of Our Best Bites)



  • 1/2 lb. rotini or bowtie pasta
  • 1 14-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium tomato, diced into small pieces
  • 1 large green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • zest from 2 limes
  • 1 cup cooked chicken, diced
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese


  • 4-5 Tbsp. lime juice (about 2 limes)
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro

Boil pasta in salted water until cooked. While it's cooking prepare the dressing: Zest your limes and place zest in large salad bowl. Place the lime juice, vinegar, garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper and sugar into a blender. Process until smooth. Slowly add in canola oil while the blender is running on low, until fully incorporated. Add the mayonnaise and cilantro and mix until almost smooth, but with some chunky pieces of cilantro left.

When pasta is done cooking, drain and rinse it with cold water to cool it off. Place the pasta in a large salad bowl with the lime zest. Add black beans, tomato, pepper, onion and chicken and mix together. Slowly pour dressing over salad and mix until all pieces are coated. Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed. Stir in cheese and store in the refrigerator until cold, about one hour.

Makes about 4-6 dinner sized servings or 10-12 side servings.

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