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Tex-Mex Pasta Salad With Chili-Tomato Vinaigrette

Crunchy corn, black beans, avocado and a plethora of veggies tossed with pasta and a flavorful vinaigrette. Yum! 

July 31, 2018

Note: This recipe was originally published on Laughing Spatula. Find more great recipes on their site. 

Love me some Tex-Mex flavors!  Black beans, peppers, corn and — of course — our good friend, avocado!  We went heavy on the veg for this recipe — you can’t have too many veggies!

I used penne pasta, which holds up great on on warm summer days, but any pasta shape will work. Same goes with veggies — carrots, garbanzos, cucumber and more would be great in this super-fresh salad!

I wanted wagon wheel pasta but couldn’t find them. Was there another shift in the universe that I missed? No wagon-wheel-shaped pasta anymore?

The vinaigrette is super simple — fresh tomato, garlic, olive oil, vinegar and a pinch of cumin and chili powder. I whirl it all up in my little blender.  Its the only electric gadget (beside my Kitchen Aid) that I use all the time. A food processor would work, as would an immersion blender. It only takes about 3 to 4 minutes to make, and is well worth the extra time. Gets a nice little kick from the chili powder for added yee-haw!

Cheater tip:   Add a teaspoon of cumin and two teaspoons of chili powder to store-bought Italian vinaigrette or any other light dressing to make a flavorful Tex-Mex dressing.

I do so love those little chef squirt bottle dispensers — equal salad dressing distribution every time!

We used fresh corn, shucked right off the cob, to add some extra crunch!

Tip: Invert a small bowl into a large bowl. Stand your corn on it and shuck. It all goes right in the bowl and not all over the floor!

I tossed in a chopped poblano pepper, which I’d seeded and deveined. Most of the heat in peppers is located in the middle. You can easily sub a green bell pepper as well if you want to avoid any heat.

Serve this up with a sprinkle of Cotija cheese (or Feta, which is a great substitute), and munch on it all week long!  

Another of our favorite salads is Corn and Avocado Salad with Honey Lime Vinaigrette. The vinaigrette keeps the avocado green and the honey adds just enough sweetness to the corn. All of these salads would go really well with our Easy Salmon Burgers with Avocado Salsa. You can see all of our salads here. Clink!


Tex-Mex Pasta Salad with Chili-Tomato Vinaigrette

An easy-to-make pasta salad with all the Tex Mex Southwest flavors we love!  Includes a easy to  make Fresh Tomato Vinaigrette recipe.


  • 12 ounces penne pasta or your favorite shaped pasta
  • 1 14-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 ears corn, fresh or thawed frozen or 1 cup frozen thawed
  • 1 medium chopped pepper, poblano, serrano or bell, about 1/2-cup
  • 1 medium chopped red bell pepper about 1/2-cup
  • 1/3-cup chopped red onion
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cups arugula romaine, spinach or chopped iceberg work as well
  • 1 fresh avocado, cubed add right before serving to keep it fresh
  • 1/2-cup crumbled cotija or feta cheese

Chili-Tomato Vinaigrette

  • 1 large tomato, cubed, or 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4-cup apple cider vinegar white vinegar will work in a pinch
  • 3/4-cup extra light olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano or 1-2 tablespoons fresh
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder


  1. Bring large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse.
  2. While pasta is cooking, prepare dressing by combining all ingredients in a blender or food processor — for 10 seconds or so until well combined. (taste for salt, pepper, seasoning).   Pour into jar and store in fridge until ready to use.
  3. Combine cooked and drained pasta with prepared veggies.
  4. Top with dressing and mix. You will not need all the dressing. Save what you don't need to dress up the leftovers!  
  5. Taste for seasoning. More salt or pepper?  
  6. Top with avocado and crumbled cheese right before serving

Nutrition information is for a heaping cup of salad with 2 tablespoons of dressing.


Laughing Spatula

Meet Kathi and Rachel Kirk — the mother-daughter duo behind We only post tried-and-true recipes, and our meals are fresh, delicious, and simple to prepare — ideal weeknight meals for all families. Native Seattle residents, we love exploring our city and finding new, hidden foodie gems. Kathi has been married to Rachel’s dad, Marty, for 35 years, and Rachel — the only child of Kathi and Marty — is a newlywed of three years to her husband Greg.

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