Cilantro Lime Black Bean Pasta Salad

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An easy to put together and easy to transport cilantro lime black bean pasta salad is just what you need for summer!

noodles, peppers, creamy dressing, corn, and black beans mixed together
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A bowl of cilantro lime black bean pasta salad with corn.

Classic Bean Pasta Salad with Sharp and Zesty Yogurt Dressing

I love a good corn and black bean pasta salad. This vegetarian pasta salad is smothered in cilantro lime dressing is a delicious dish that brings together the flavors of fresh corn, black beans, and a zesty dressing. The pasta salad is filled with colorful ingredients and is tossed in a tangy cilantro lime yogurt dressing that brings all the flavors together.

The creamy yogurt dressing is made with fresh cilantro, lime juice, and spices, making it the perfect addition to the pasta and veggie mixture. The combination of the soft pasta, crunchy corn, and protein-packed black beans, make this dish a perfect summer or dinner option. With its perfect balance of texture and taste, this pasta salad is sure to be a crowd-pleaser at any gathering.

My kids and family love this salad and if you want to make it gluten-free you can omit the pasta. Feel free to use any leftover dressing for a green salad or marinate for protein of choice.

How to Make Corn and Black Bean Pasta Salad

First assemble the following ingredients:

  • Macaroni (1 1/2 cup) – Macaroni, with its classic elbow shape, serves as a hearty base that nestles the flavors and textures of the salad ingredients.
  • Black beans (3/4 cup) – Black beans add a satisfying, earthy protein punch, contrasting beautifully with the salad’s lighter elements.
  • Red bell pepper (1/2) – Red bell pepper brings a sweet, crisp bite, adding vibrant color and a hint of sweetness to the mix.
  • Green bell pepper (1/2) – The green bell pepper offers a slightly bitter counterpoint to the red bell pepper, enhancing the salad’s flavor complexity.
  • Corn (1) – Sweet kernels of corn contribute a juicy crunch, injecting a burst of natural sweetness and texture.
  • Avocado (1) – Creamy avocado slices introduce a buttery richness, lending a smooth contrast to the salad’s crunchier components.
  • Avocado oil (1 tbsp) – Avocado oil provides a subtle, clean taste with a hint of nuttiness, perfect for dressing the salad lightly without overpowering it.
  • Jalapeno (1) – Finely diced jalapeno peppers add a spicy kick, invigorating the salad with a gentle heat.
  • Cotija cheese (3/4 cup) – Crumbled Cotija cheese sprinkles the salad with a salty, crumbly texture and a tangy flavor reminiscent of the countryside.
  • Lime (1/2) – Fresh lime juice zestfully brightens the salad, offering a tangy citrus splash that ties the flavors together.
  • Cilantro (1/4 cup) – Chopped cilantro infuses the dish with a fresh, aromatic lift, accentuating its vibrant, herbal undertones.
  • Yogurt (3/4 cup) – A dollop of yogurt introduces a creamy, tangy element, balancing the heat and enriching the dressing.
  • Cumin (1/2 tsp) – Ground cumin seeds impart a warm, earthy spice, subtly enhancing the salad’s depth without dominating.
  • Ancho chili powder (2 tsp) – Ancho chili powder adds a mild, smoky heat, enveloping the salad in a gentle warmth and complex flavor.
  • Sea salt and Pepper – A pinch of salt is essential for amplifying the natural flavors of the salad’s ingredients, making them more pronounced and cohesive. Freshly ground black pepper sprinkles in a piquant bite, adding a final touch of spice that completes the dish’s flavor profile.
noodles, peppers, creamy dressing, corn, and black beans, avocado, and cheese, all in a bowl.

Use this Method

Combine Salad. Add the cooked macaroni to a large salad bowl and top with the black beans, veggies, cheese and the avocado oil.

Mix Dressing. Pour everything for the dressing in a mason jar and shake to mix well or mix with a fork in a bowl.

Toss and Finish. Pour the dressing over the pasta, beans and veggies. Toss it gently.

Tips and Tricks for Black Bean Pasta Salad

Cook Pasta Perfectly:

  • Boil the pasta in salted water until it’s just al dente to prevent it from becoming mushy once mixed with the dressing and other ingredients.

Rinse Pasta in Cold Water:

  • After cooking, rinse the pasta under cold water to stop the cooking process immediately, which helps maintain its firm texture.

Use Fresh or Grilled Corn:

  • Fresh corn kernels cut off the cob or lightly grilled corn can add a sweet, crisp element and a smoky flavor if grilled, elevating the salad’s taste.

Rinse and Drain Black Beans:

  • If using canned black beans, rinse them thoroughly and drain to remove excess sodium and prevent the salad from becoming soggy.

Brighten with Fresh Herbs:

  • Incorporate fresh herbs like cilantro, parsley, or basil for a burst of freshness and color that complements the other ingredients.

Add a Crunch:

  • Include ingredients like red onion, bell peppers, or cucumber for a crunchy texture contrast against the soft beans and tender pasta.

Create a Flavorful Dressing:

  • Whisk together a zesty dressing using ingredients like lime juice, olive oil, garlic, and spices such as cumin and chili powder to infuse the salad with bold flavors.

Season Well:

  • Don’t forget to season your salad generously with salt and pepper, adjusting according to taste to ensure every bite is flavorful.

Let the Salad Marinate:

  • Allow the salad to sit for at least 30 minutes before serving to let the flavors meld and intensify, making the dish more cohesive and delicious.

Serve at the Right Temperature:

  • Serve the salad chilled or at room temperature to ensure the flavors are at their best and the salad is refreshing, especially in warmer weather.

Garnish Before Serving:

  • Just before serving, add a final sprinkle of fresh herbs, a squeeze of lime, or a dash of chili powder to brighten and enhance the flavors.

Consider Cheese Additions:

  • For an extra layer of flavor and texture, consider adding a sprinkle of crumbled feta, queso fresco, or shredded cheddar cheese.

Customize to Your Liking:

  • Feel free to add other ingredients like avocado, cherry tomatoes, or shredded chicken to tailor the salad to your preferences and make it a more substantial meal.
noodles, peppers, creamy dressing, corn, and black beans mixed together

FAQ’s

What type of pasta works best for this salad?

Short pasta shapes like rotini, fusilli, or penne are ideal as they hold onto the dressing well and mix easily with the other ingredients.

Can I use canned corn instead of fresh?

Yes, canned corn can be used for convenience. Just be sure to drain and rinse it well before adding it to the salad.

How can I add more protein to this salad?

To increase the protein content, consider adding grilled chicken, shrimp, tofu, or an extra can of beans such as chickpeas or kidney beans.

Is this salad gluten-free?

It can be made gluten-free by using a gluten-free pasta option, such as those made from rice, corn, or quinoa. You can also omit the pasta.

How long can I store this pasta salad in the fridge?

The salad can typically be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

Can I make this salad ahead of time?

Yes, making the salad a few hours or even a day in advance allows the flavors to meld together, often enhancing the overall taste.

What is the best way to serve this salad?

Serve chilled or at room temperature. If made ahead, you might want to refresh it with a squeeze of lime and a sprinkle of fresh herbs just before serving.

How can I prevent the pasta from absorbing all the dressing?

Reserve a portion of the dressing to add just before serving, which can help refresh the salad and prevent it from becoming dry.

How can I make this salad spicier?

Add more chopped jalapeños, a dash of hot sauce, or a sprinkle of chili flakes to the dressing to give the salad a spicy kick.

Can I substitute the black beans?

Yes, you can use other beans like kidney beans, chickpeas, or navy beans based on your preference or what you have on hand.

Is this salad vegan?

Yes, as long as no animal products are added, this salad is naturally vegan and plant-based.

Can I add more vegetables to this salad?

Feel free to include more vegetables such as diced bell peppers, avocado, cucumber, or red onion to enhance the nutritional value and texture.

What to Enjoy with Black Bean Pasta Salad

Grilled Chicken or Shrimp: The smoky flavors from grilled chicken or shrimp complement the zesty and fresh taste of the cilantro lime black bean pasta salad, adding a hearty protein component.

Avocado Slices or Guacamole: Creamy avocado or a dollop of guacamole pairs wonderfully with the salad, adding a rich texture and a boost of healthy fats.

Corn Chips or Tortilla Strips: For a crunchy contrast, serve the salad with corn chips or crispy tortilla strips on the side, enhancing the dish’s texture and adding a salty bite.

Fresh Salsa or Pico de Gallo: A side of fresh salsa or pico de gallo can add a juicy, vibrant component that complements the salad’s flavors with a hint of spice and acidity.

Quesadillas: Cheese quesadillas serve as a warm and comforting side that pairs nicely with the cool and refreshing salad, offering a satisfying combination of flavors and textures.

Grilled Vegetables: Grilled vegetables, such as bell peppers, zucchini, and onions, can add a charred flavor and additional nutrients to the meal, complementing the fresh ingredients in the salad.

Fruit Salad with Citrus Dressing: A light fruit salad dressed in a citrus-based dressing can complement the lime in the salad, offering a sweet and tangy balance to the savory elements.

Iced Tea with a Splash of Lime: A refreshing iced tea with a hint of lime can enhance the citrus notes in the salad, providing a refreshing beverage to accompany the meal.

Jalapeño Cornbread: Spicy jalapeño cornbread adds a slightly sweet and spicy element, offering a comforting and flavorful side that pairs well with the salad’s textures.

Cucumber Tomato Salad: A simple cucumber and tomato salad, dressed lightly, can offer a crisp and refreshing side that doesn’t overpower the main dish’s flavors, keeping the meal light and fresh. Also try tomato chickpea salad!

Try these other salads:

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corn, pasta, black beans, tomatoes, corn, rice, jalapeno, avocado, cilantro, and yogurt separate and mixed into a pasta salad

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A bowl of cilantro lime black bean pasta salad with corn.
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Cilantro Lime Black Bean Pasta Salad

An easy to put together and easy to transport Corn and Black Bean Pasta Salad with a refreshing yogurt dressing with lime and cilantro is just what you need for summer!
Course Pasta
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword cilantro, cilantro lime yogurt dressing, corn salad, dinner, healthy lunch recipes, lime, lunch, pasta salad, vegetables, vegetarian salad, yogurt dressing
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 430kcal
Author Courtney ODell

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cup macaroni whole grain, cooked
  • 1 can black beans drained and rinsed
  • ½ red bell pepper chopped
  • ½ green bell pepper chopped
  • 1 corn grilled and kernels removed
  • 1 avocado peeled, pitted and chopped
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 jalapeno deseeded and chopped
  • ¾ cup cotija cheese crumbled

For the Cilantro Lime Yogurt Dressing:

  • ½ lime
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • ¾ cup yogurt
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp ancho chili powder
  • salt to taste
  • crushed black pepper

Instructions

  • Add the cooked macaroni to a large salad bowl and top with the black beans, veggies, cheese and the avocado oil.
  • Pour everything for the dressing in a mason jar and shake to mix well or mix with a fork in a bowl.
  • Pour the dressing over the pasta, beans and veggies. Toss it gently.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 430kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 25mg | Sodium: 778mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 6g

About Courtney

Courtney loves to share great wine, good food, and loves to explore far flung places- all while masting an everyday elegant and easy style at lifestyle blog Sweet C’s Designs. Sweet C's devoted to finding the best food and drinks you'll want to make or find, around the world!

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9 Comments

  1. Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom says:

    Oh wow, this looks and sounds so healthy and delicious! Definitely going to give it a whirl!

    Thanks for sharing (and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop).

    Wishing you a lovely week.
    xoxo

  2. Lisa @ Fun Money Mom says:

    Yumm…this already sounded good but the dressing really makes it! I’ll have to try this soon! Thanks for sharing with us at Share The Wealth Sunday. I hope we see you again tonight!

  3. Theresa says:

    This pasta salad sounds great! Thanks for sharing at the Inspiration Spotlight party. Pinned & Shared.