Healthy Southwest Pasta Salad recipe is a vegan and mayo free pasta salad. It makes a great side dish or enjoy it as a light main dish.Jump to Recipe
Southwest Pasta Salad Recipe
If you’re looking for a great side dish recipe, light main dish this Southwest Pasta Salad recipe fits the bill! It’s also a really crowd pleaser in the summer time for family gatherings.
It’s a great cold pasta salad and it’s equally good at room temperature. Cooked pasta mixed with juicy cherry tomatoes, a can of black beans, veggies, and a southwest dressing is so delicious!
This dish would be a great addition to your next cookout or add it to your Weekly Meal Plan!
Southwest Pasta Salad Ingredients
How to Make Healthy Pasta Salad with Southwest Flavors
Step 1. Cook pasta according to the package directions in a large pot of salted water. Drain pasta and allow to cool.
Step 2. Meanwhile, add all the dressing ingredients to a large mixing bowl and whisk until combined.
Step 3. Add the cooled pasta and remaining salad ingredients and toss until fully coated with the dressing.
Step 4. You can serve this immediately at room temperature or refrigerate and serve chilled. Serve with extra cilantro if desired.
What to Serve with Southwest Pasta Salad
Beans in pasta salad add protein so this could be served alone as a light main dish. I prefer to serve this Southwestern pasta salad with some easy Air Fryer Chicken Tenders to make it a more filling meal. You can even use a different dry rub on the chicken tenders, like Taco Seasoning or Fajita Seasoning, to compliment the flavors in the pasta salad.
This pasta salad recipe would also be the perfect side dish to serve alongside this Copycat Chipotle Steak recipe.
A little roasted corn kernels or black olives can also be mixed into this pasta salad if you’d like. My family doesn’t like olives, which is why I didn’t include them and omitting the corn helps keep the carbs down (ever so slightly).
Diced Jalapeños and minced sweet onion would also be a great way to add a little kick and sweetness. There are lots of possibilities to really make this your own!
You can also try this recipe with different beans like pinto beans or white beans.
Is Pasta Salad Healthy?
Traditional pasta salad is not considered a health food because it’s usually full of mayonnaise and other high calorie mix-ins like bacon and cheddar cheese. However, you can completely control the ingredients when you make it yourself and you can make a much healthier pasta salad when you focus on nutritious ingredients like beans and veggies, and dressings that aren’t mayonnaise based.
Using high-protein pasta is also an added nutritional bonus. This pasta salad without mayo is much healthier than classic macaroni salad and if you follow the recipe as written, it’s a Vegan Southwest Pasta Salad.
For this recipe, I used Jovial Gluten Free Farfalle, which is a brown rice pasta that has 5g protein per serving, but any short noodles will work.
Tips for Making Pasta Salad
- When making gluten free pasta for pasta salad, I cook it just past al dente and then rinse it in cold water after I drain it after draining it.
- Cooked pasta (especially gluten free) has a tendency to soak up a lot of dressing, especially if it’s refrigerated. You can double the southwest dressing recipe and save half of it on the side to add more as needed.
- See above for substitutions and additional mix ins!
Southwest Pasta Salad Recipe
For the Southwest Dressing
- ⅓ cup fresh lime juice
- ¼ cup Olive Oil
- 3 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Chili Powder
- ¾ teaspoon Cumin
- ½ teaspoon Kosher Salt
- ½ teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
For the Pasta Salad
- 16 oz. Bow Tie Pasta, or short pasta of choice
- 1 can Black Beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups Cherry Tomatoes, halved
- ½ cup Red Onion, diced
- 1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
- 1 Avocado, diced
- ½ cup Green Onions, sliced
- ½ cup Fresh Cilantro, chopped
- Cook pasta according to the package directions in a large pot of salted water. Drain pasta and allow to cool.
- Meanwhile, add all the dressing ingredients to a large mixing bowl and whisk until combined.
- Add the cooled pasta and remaining salad ingredients to the bowl and toss until fully coated with the dressing.
- Serve this immediately at room temperature or refrigerate and serve chilled. Serve with extra cilantro or toppings if desired.
- Use gluten free pasta, protein pasta, or your pasta of choice.
- I’m not a big onion fan so I only use 1/2 cup. Feel free to add more if you love onions.
- See post for additional pasta salad mix-ins.
- Calories are approximate and will depend on the number of servings you make and ingredients used. The values listed here are with brown rice pasta.