One of the best parts about pasta salad, other than how delicious it tastes, is the endless ways you can switch up the flavors and use ingredients already in your kitchen. There are so many varieties of this classic side dish like Italian pasta salad with olives and tomatoes or the bacon ranch version. They're all flavorful, but if you are bored with your go-to pasta salad recipes, try giving the side dish a southwestern twist with a tangy and spicy chipotle dressing and partake in the bold, smoky, and hot flavors it offers.
In her recipe for southwest pasta salad, Tasting Table recipe developer Hayley MacLean features a spicy chipotle dressing. "The bright chipotle and lime from the creamy dressing coat all of the ingredients wonderfully." In addition, she continues, the fresh, crisp veggies she uses, including corn, tomatoes, and bell peppers "are such a great textural contrast to the soft noodles."
If you'd like to make this dressing yourself, you'll need a creamy base. However, while mayonnaise and sour cream are the standard, you aren't limited to those items -- nor are you boxed in to what you can add to your spicy mix, which features chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, cilantro, lime juice, and various spices.
Making Chipotle Dressing For Pasta Salad
Do you typically use only mayonnaise in your pasta salad? Swap it for an easy chipotle mayonnaise by blending mayo with chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and lime juice for a little acidity. Sensitive to heat? Swap the chipotle peppers with a blend of spices like chili powder, chipotle powder, and smoked paprika for more subtle flavors. And if you're really short on time, buy a store-bought bottle of chipotle mayo or chipotle dressing and thin it out with lime juice or oil if it's too thick for the pasta salad.
The chipotle dressing pairs well with a variety of herbs and vegetables. Common vegetables found in southwestern dishes (including MacLean's pasta salad) are avocado, black beans, corn, bell peppers, jalapeños, tomatoes, and red onions. We think any of these ingredients are ideal because they also add fresh, crunchy textures to match the creamy dressing and al dente pasta. If you want to lean into the southwestern twist even more, use frozen fire-roasted corn or canned corn with peppers. For a final dash of flavor, chop up fresh cilantro for herbiness or go with green onions for a mildly sweet flavor as a garnish.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.