Potluck Party – Cilantro-Lime Pasta Salad

Good lord it gets hot down here at the end of summer. The thought of heating up my kitchen is just about killing me. But Chef J had a Fantasy Football draft party to attend and I couldn’t send him empty handed . So I threw together a pasta salad. That meant that I really only had to boil one pot of water. The rest was right out of the fridge and a few things from my grill.

Pasta salad is one of those things that you can really go any way with. I’ve had lots of Italian ones but this one has a little more Latin flavor. It would go great with grilled chicken or steak or even burgers and hot dogs. The beauty of a pasta salad is that it is infinitely individualized to whatever you want to do. So try this one as a guideline but then mix it up on your own next time!

1
Get your veggies chopped and ready for the grill. Rub them down with vegetable oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Once everything is nicely grilled, steam your peppers to loosen the skin. Cut kernels from the corn and dice the other peppers and other veggies. Combine gently in a very large bowl.

This does have a lot of ingredients but there’s nothing strange in here. And, again, you can change this up in so many ways. If you don’t like something on this list or it just seems like too much, leave some of it out!

2
Gently combine grilled veggies in a very large bowl with black beans, queso fresco and sliced grape tomatoes (aren’t mine beauties?). Then dress your salad with that yummy dressing (sorry, forgot to get a picture of that step!)

This does serve an army so scale up or down as needed. I’d definitely recommend this next time you have a potluck cookout to attend. This is great the next day as well. And if you want to make it a full meal, you could add some chopped grilled chicken or some lime marinated grilled shrimp.

IMG_4135
The finished salad ready to be wrapped up and taken to a party! I don’t have a photo of a finished plate of this beauty because my husband took it with him but he told me it was a hit!

 

Cilantro-Lime Pasta Salad

  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped, divided
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1/3 C mayonnaise
  • 1/3 C sour cream
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 1/2 t cumin
  • 1 t chili powder
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • vegetable oil
  • 2 ears corn
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 1 large poblano pepper, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 1 large cubanelle pepper, halved lengthwise and seeded (if you can’t find this, don’t sweat it)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, quartered lengthwise and seeded
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 large zuchinni, halved lengthwise
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 lb rotini of shells pasta, cooked just al dente (you may not need all of it)
  • 1/2 lb queso fresco cheese, crumbled
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved (click *here* to see a cool trick for this)
  • salt and pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, olive oil, lime zest, cumin and chili powder. Squeeze in half of the lime juice and whisk well. Taste and add salt, pepper or more lime juice as needed. Mix in a small handful of the cilantro and put dressing in fridge until ready to dress salad.

Preheat grill to medium. Rub oil on corn, onion, pepper and zucchini. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Grill peppers, onion and zucchini, turning once or twice, for 5-10 minutes until just softened and charred. Grill corn about 5 minutes per side or until soft and slightly charred, about 20 minutes. Bring everything in to cool (it will likely all finish at different times). Put peppers in a zipper bag or paper sack and seal to steam. Once cool, cut kernels from corn and place in a very large bowl. Peel skins from peppers and dice them and all other ingredients into 1/2 inch dice (except jalapeno which should be chopped smaller). Add to bowl with corn and toss to mix well. Gently mix in black beans, queso (reserving a little for garnish), tomatoes and half the remaining cilantro.

While veggies are cooking outside, bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil and cook pasta a minute or so less than package directions (you don’t want mushy pasta). Drain well but do not rinse. Add to bowl with grilled veggie mixture, tossing gently to combine well. Pour half of dressing over salad, tossing and folding until well combined. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Just before serving pour of remainder of dressing and top with remaining cilantro and queso.

IMG_4129
From my blooper reel. I call this “That Moment You Realize Your Very Large Bowl Isn’t So Large After All.”

 

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