Inside: A super simple recipe for a Vegan Mexican Pasta Salad. This zesty macaroni salad is so flavorful, it’ll please everyone – vegetarians and meat-eaters alike!
Here in Ohio, we’re used to crazy weather. 2 weeks ago, I was frantically covering my tomato and pepper plants to protect them from frost. 2 days ago, it rained so hard that a large part of my city flooded. Residential sump pumps backed up, rivers flooded, and entire fields turned into muddy marshes. And today? Today the heat index is 94!
After all that rain, the air is thick and muggy. So gross. The kind of weather where if you haven’t gone for a nice walk by 8am in the morning, you might as well stay inside. Also, I’m pretty sure our AC unit is on the fritz. Or maybe it just can’t keep up? Our unit is blowing cold air, but the house doesn’t seem to be cooling much. It’s gone down one degree in 3 hours.
All of that to say, sometimes you don’t want a hot meal. Sometimes you want something cool and refreshing. And for days like that, I love making a batch of this cold Vegan Mexican Pasta Salad. It’s a great side dish for potlucks, picnics, and cookouts because not only does it taste amazing, it’s a great option for meat-eaters and vegetarians alike.
This zesty macaroni salad is also a great one-dish meal. You have protein from the black beans, carbs from the pasta and corn, healthy fats from the olive oil and avocado, and lots of fiber and vitamins from the veggies. Also, it’s delicious as is, but I wouldn’t look at you side-eyed if you added on some shredded cheddar or cooled and shredded chicken breast.
Vegan Mexican Pasta Salad Notes
- I use diced bell peppers in this recipe, and you can use any color peppers you want, but I think it tastes best with red, yellow, or orange bell peppers. While I love the sharp bite of green pepper, it can overpower a recipe in a large amount. My favorite colored bell pepper to use in this recipe is red, as I find that they are sweetest, but I like the way it looks with multiple colors, so I usually use at least one other color of bell pepper. If you do use green bell peppers, I’d suggest you use less than what’s called for in the recipe.
- I use cilantro in this salad as I love the flavor and how it complements the dressing. I know not everyone loves the flavor of cilantro, so if you don’t, you can leave it out. My vegan Mexican pasta salad is still delicious without the cilantro.
- For the scallions, make sure you use the white and the green parts.
- For the pasta, I prefer macaroni noodles, but you can use any small shaped noodle you have on hand. Rotini, ditalini, or even bow-tie. Just cook the noodles according to package directions, and rinse in cool water as soon as you drain.
- I love the taste of olive oil, but if you’re not a fan or don’t have any on hand, you can substitute a more neutral tasting oil like canola.
- My husband bought me this set of glass mixing bowls on Amazon, and I’ve been using them daily. I think they are pretty enough to prep this vegan Mexican pasta salad AND serve in. Which means less dishes all around!
Vegan Mexican Pasta Salad
A super simple recipe for a Vegan Mexican Pasta Salad. This zesty macaroni salad is so flavorful, it'll please everyone - vegetarians and meat-eaters alike!
- 2 cups dry macaroni noodles
- 2 cups diced bell peppers (I used a mix of red and yellow)
- 1 cup frozen corn (no need to thaw)
- 1 15oz can black beans, rinsed
- 3 stalks scallions, green and white
- 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 whole avocado, chopped
- extra lime and cilantro, as a garnish
For the dressing:
- 1/3 cup olive oil (or sub favorite neutral oil)
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 juicy limes)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3/4 tsp salt, or to taste
- 2 tbl chili powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp dried oregano
Cook macaroni noodles according to package instructions. Drain and immediately rinse with cool water. Set aside.
In a large glass bowl, add olive oil, lime juice, garlic, salt, chili powder, cumin and oregano. Whisk with a fork to combine.
Add cooled pasta, bell peppers, scallions, cilantro, rinsed black beans, and corn to bowl and stir until everything is well combined.
Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour before serving, or up to 24 hours.
Before serving, give pasta salad a big stir.
Top with avocado, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and squeeze of lime. This brings out the flavor of the avocado and adds a little "oomph" to the salad right before serving. Garnish with cilantro if desired.