I think of spring as the prelude to many things.
Summer, for one. But also farmers’ markets and flip-flops. Thunderstorms and lemonade stands. Strawberry pies and fireworks.
It’s also the beginning of picnic season. Nothing beats eating al fresco, especially in the midwest where we can only eat outside for a few months of the year (and even then we have thick swarms of mosquitoes for company). Though it’s barely April, I’m eager for the day when I can pack up a picnic lunch and head outside for a meal somewhere warm and shady.
Pasta salads are a blank slate and the perfect picnic food. You can take them in pretty much any direction you like with herbs, vegetables, spices, and proteins. This one heads south-of-the-border with black beans, tomatoes, corn, scallions, avocados, and a cilantro-chili vinaigrette. I actually made this salad toward the end of last summer and never got around to posting it at the time. Sometimes the archived recipes are the very best!
Southwest Pasta Salad with Black Beans and Avocado
½ lb. brown rice penne or rotini pasta, cooked according to package instructions and rinsed with cold water
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 cups cooked black beans, or 1 (15 ounce) can rinsed and drained
3 scallions, white and dark green parts, thinly sliced
½ cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 medium avocado, diced
¼ cup parsley, finely chopped
¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped
1 garlic clove
2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs. red wine vinegar
1 tbs. water
½ tsp. sea salt
½ tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. dried oregano
Combine pasta, tomatoes, beans, scallions, and corn in a large mixing bowl.
In a blender or food processor, combine all ingredients for the dressing and blend until smooth. Toss dressing with the salad ingredients. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired. Refrigerate salad for at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours.
Stir in the avocado just before serving. Serve chilled.
Find more nutritious recipes at Slightly Indulgent Tuesday.