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Brighten up your summer with our chipotle corn pasta salad. Made with simple ingredients like noodles, corn, bell peppers, and chipotle, this smoky spicy pasta salad is perfect for BBQs, potlucks, and more!
Pasta salad is underrated
Hot take: the world needs more cold pasta dishes. As much as I’m a fan of hot pasta dishes like cashew mac and cheese or Philly cheesesteak pasta, cold pasta is all the rage, especially during summer.
Our chipotle corn pasta salad combines some of my favorite ingredients like pasta, tomatoes, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, bell peppers, scallions, and cilantro. This recipe is refreshing and spicy at the same time. If you’re a heat seeker, definitely recommend giving this recipe a go.
Good food that’s simple and delicious
Sure I love a complicated recipe like seitan chicken parmesan, but in the end, simple recipes are accessible, and honestly what I crave most days of the week. In between my career job and life, I rarely have time to cook meals that take longer than 30-45 minutes. This meal is one of those, and it is so simple that you can identify most of the ingredients without having to taste it.
So long story short, high-quality ingredients equals a high-quality recipe. I use this approach in many of my salads like this tasty arugula blueberry salad, or in my vegetable-forward sides like citrus roasted asparagus.
What ingredients are in chipotle corn pasta salad?
There are two components in chipotle corn pasta salad: the salad and the dressing. For the salad, all you need is 6 ounces of your favorite pasta salad noodle. I used Fusilli, but you could probably go with any pasta shape that is 1-2 inches long. For a gluten-free version of this recipe, feel free to swap out the regular pasta for Banza.
Next are the additional pasta salad ingredients. You’ll need two ears of corn and a 12-ounce package of some kind of snacking tomatoes – I used baby heirloom tomatoes but any kind will taste delicious. And lastly, a bell pepper, green onion, and fresh cilantro.
For the dressing, you’ll need the juice of one lime, a couple of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, extra virgin olive oil, and a bit of agave. Lastly, you’ll need some salt and pepper for seasoning after you assemble your salad.
How do you make chipotle corn pasta salad?
To make chipotle corn pasta salad you’ll need a few kitchen tools. First, you’ll need a large pot and a medium-sized pot. The large one is for boiling your corn while the second is for cooking your noodles. Also grab a strainer, blender or a food processor, some measuring spoons, your favorite kitchen knife, a cutting board, a large bowl, and a pair of tongs.
Place your two pots filled with water on the stove and bring to a boil. In the pasta pot, add a generous amount of salt before you add the noodles. In the other, add two ears of shucked corn. Cook the pasta according to package directions and boil the corn for 8 minutes.
In the meantime, make your dressing. Add the juice of one lime, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and a tablespoon of agave to a blender or food processor. Blend to combine and set aside. Once your noodles are cooked, drain and rinse them, add to a large bowl and stick in the fridge for about 20 minutes until the noodles are cool.
If you want some char on your corn, break out a skillet, season the pan, crank up the heat, and brown the corn on all sides. Once the corn is charred, stick it in the fridge to cool it down.
While the noodles and corn chill out, cut your tomatoes in half, chop your bell pepper, and about a half a cup of cilantro. Grab the cooled corn (It’s ok if it’s still warm! Just so long as it’s not going to burn your hands), and remove the kernels from the cob. Set aside.
Once the noodles are mostly cold, add the dressing and use tongs to combine. If the sauce appears to not cover the noodles very well, add a tablespoon or two of water until you get a good coverage. Next add the rest of the ingredients and toss with the tongs. Lastly, add salt and pepper to taste.
Shake it up
We love chipotle corn pasta so much just the way it is, but if you’re looking for creative ways to adapt, we have a few ideas!
Make it super spicy: Add more chipotle peppers to the dressing and your mouth will be on fire!
Make it mild: Chipotle corn pasta is kind of spicy. To make this recipe mild, only add the adobo sauce instead of the actual chipotle peppers plus an extra squeeze of agave for additional sweetness.
Add some protein: This meal is pretty carb-forward. If you’re looking to add some protein, consider making chicken seitan pieces to add or buying a package of your favorite mock chicken. I like Quorn’s meatless chicken a lot right now. Just make sure it’s vegan since some of their products are only vegetarian! I also think super firm tofu would work well with this too.
Make it creamy: Add a generous scoop of vegan mayo or cashew cream to make this a creamy chipotle corn pasta salad!
For gluten-free: Instead of regular pasta, substitute Banza, or your favorite gluten-free pasta for pasta salad.
Make it low FODMAP: Every ingredient in this recipe is low FODMAP friendly except for the agave. Swap this out for maple syrup and you’re good to go!
Pair chipotle corn pasta salad with
If you’re looking for a delicious side to serve with this recipe, I have a few ideas! Consider serving this with:
In this segment, I suggest a song for you to listen to while you make chipotle corn pasta salad! You can even stream it right here in your browser. Today’s recipe jam is Crazy by Pylon.
If you try this recipe, I want to hear about it! Feel free to post your creations to Instagram or Facebook and tag Hell Yes It’s Vegan or #hellyesitsvegan. I look forward to seeing what you make!
Chipotle Corn Pasta Salad
- medium-sized pot
- large-sized pot
- cast iron skillet
- cutting board
- measuring spoons
- measuring cup
- blender or food processor
- large bowl
Corn Pasta Salad
- 8 oz fusilli pasta, (or similar shape)
- 2 ears corn
- 1 yellow, orange, or red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 scallions, sliced
- 12 oz small tomatoes, sliced
- ½ cup cilantro, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- Add water to a medium-sized and large-sized pot and bring to a boil. In the medium-sized pot, add a generous amount of salt and cook the pasta according to package instructions. In the large pot, add two ears of shucked corn and boil for 8 minutes. Drain and rinse the pasta once fully cooked, add to a large bowl and refrigerate to cool for about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add all of the ingredients for the chipotle lime dressing into a blender or food processor and process until combined
- Once the corn is cooked, remove with tongs and heat a seasoned cast-iron skillet. Char the ears of corn for a few minutes each all the way around the cob. Add to the fridge to cool.
- Once the pasta is cool, remove from the refrigerator and add the dressing. Use tongs to lightly move the dressing around ensuring an even coat. If the dressing is too thick, add a tablespoon or so of water to thin it out to get more coverage.
- Remove corn from the refrigerator. It's ok if they're still a little warm so long as you can handle them. Carefully remove the corn from the cob and add to the pasta along with the chopped scallions, tomato, bell pepper, and cilantro. Generously season with salt and pepper and serve.