Southwest Pasta Salad | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Southwest Pasta Salad

Side Dish

Southwest Pasta Salad is a brightly flavored summer side made with a spicy vinniagreete. It’s totally mayonnaise free, so it’s great for a summer cookout side dish. It’s got cheese, black beans, and veggies. You’ll love it.

Southwest Pasta Salad | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

We’re in a long period of financial austerity in this household after an absolutely amazing vacation. We made a moderate effort to stay within the $20 a a day budget, but getting an advance on my allowance was absolutely necessary. Now we’re trying to make up for that by being really boring and staying in the house as much as possible. I still somehow find myself spending a bunch of extra money at the grocery store and going to Subway for lunch way too often, but I’ll get caught up eventually.

Luckily, we’ve got some built in entertainment this month in the form of the World Cup. Geoff is committed to watching every match. I’m just in it for the drinks. To be fair, that’s where most of my money has gone this week. You see, we have a tradition of trying to find a drink, either spirits, wine, beer, or cider from each country that’ playing. We have four bottles of wine open in our fridge right now, and I’m having a great time. 

Southwest Pasta Salad | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

What makes Southwest Pasta Salad so awesome?

Hopefully you’ve got a full social calendar and are getting invited to all sorts of picnics and cook outs, or are hosting your own, or just eating outside by yourself. Regardless, you’re going to need a great pasta salad recipe, and this Southwest Pasta salad is it. I confess, it’s normally hard to drag me away from a mayonaissey potato salad, and if there’s a bowl of mac salad available, I might run away with the whole thing. But this mayo-free pasta salad keeps me coming back for more.

The colors in this thing are absolutely gorgeous, and the dressing is packed with flavor. And because there’s no mayo, you don’t have to worry about it sitting out on the picnic table all afternoon. Just make sure to give it a good stir before dishing it up to make sure the dressing hasn’t all pooled on the bottom of the bowl. And the best thing is, the longer it sits, the more flavorful it gets and the pasta soaks up all the spicy goodness.

Southwest Pasta Salad | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

I hope you have an exciting summer in front of you, and I hope you make Southwest Pasta Salad for your next party. It’s gonna be awesome.


Southwest Pasta Salad

Southwest Pasta Salad | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Southwest Pasta Salad is the perfect spicy and colorful solution for your breezy picnic life.

  • Author: Renee Rendall
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Southwest
  • Diet: Vegetarian


  • 1/2 pound small pasta, your favorite shape or whatever’s in your pantry
  • zest of 2 limes
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 bell pepper, diced
  • 3 green onions, chopped (I use scissors)
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese

for the dressing

  • 6 Tbsp lime juice (Use what you can get from the limes you zested earlier, then top up with bottled lime juice if you need to)
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 11/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 3/4 cup olive oil


  1. Cook your pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, according to the time on the package. Drain
  2. Zest your lime into the bottom of a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the black beans, bell pepper, green onion, corn, and cheese. Stir to combine.
  4. Add the pasta and stir it up.
  5. The easiest way to make the dressing is to combine all the ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Give it a good shake until the oil has mixed in. If you need to mix this in a bowl, whisk together all ingredients apart from the oil, the drizzle the oil in slowly while whisking all the while until everything is well combined.
  6. Pour the about 2/3 of the dressing over your salad and give it a stir. If you want more, add it. If not, save it for when you’re ready to serve. You might find that after the pasta salad has cooled in the fridge, it can take a little more. Drizzle it over and stir well before serving.
  7. Allow the salad to chill in the fridge for at least an hour, but overnight is even better.
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