I’ll be honest, this is my FAVORITE pasta salad. I think of this salad as the perfect summer pasta salad, but to be honest, we make it year round because we like it so much. I posted the recipe for the chipotle paste that is used in this salad in a post yesterday. This is the punch that gives this pasta salad a great flavor.
You can use any type of pasta that you like this. We used to get a big bag of multi-colored garden rotini from Sam’s Club but we haven’t seen it at our location lately. This was a great noodle for this salad because it holds up great and the color makes it fun. The Sam’s website shows it should be in stock at our location so we’ll have to look for it again. In the pictures, we’re using a fusilli pasta from Trader Joe’s. We’ve also used farfalla pasta in the past but it broke apart so I’d stick with a thicker pasta with more grooves on it.
- 1 pound dried pasta of your choice
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup chipotle paste (see recipe)
- 2 roma tomatoes, diced
- 2 carrots, julienned
- 1 medium red onion, diced
- 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped (can substitute parsley)
- 1 jalapeño, finely diced (optional)
- 1 tsp sea salt, or to your preference
To start, cook your pasta noodles according to the directions on the package. Definitely pay attention to the time and don’t over cook this pasta or it will fall apart while you’re mixing it. Read the next step before you finish. You’re going to put the hot pasta water into a bowl with the red onions and carrots to soften them.
While the pasta is cooking, get your vegetables ready. Once they’re cut, put the red onions and carrots into a small glass bowl. When the pasta is finished cooking, pour the hot water into the bowl with your red onion and carrots. Let this soak for about 10 minutes. Then, drain the carrots and onions and rinse well.
Now, mix the mayonnaise with the chipotle paste until it’s well mixed. It should turn a pinkish color.
Add the pasta noodles, tomatoes, carrots, red onion, cilantro, jalapeño, and the mayonnaise chipotle paste mixture into a large bowl and gently fold the ingredients together.
If you look close, you’ll see that the picture actually uses parsley instead of cilantro. It gives the salad a different flavor but it’s just as good. If you have family members who don’t like cilantro, just substitute the cilantro for parsley and it will turn out great.
Once the noodles are well coated with the mayonnaise chipotle mixture, you are good to go. You can eat it right away or “sample” it just to make sure 😉 – however it’s best if you put it in the refrigerator and let it cool for at least an hour.
Obviously, this makes a bunch of pasta salad and way more than 2 people can eat in one meal. It’s a perfect side to take with you to a BBQ or summer cookout. It also likely means leftovers! This salad will last a week or so in the refrigerator. When we serve it, we’ll sometimes put it over a bed of lettuce which adds a nice texture to it. For lunch, I’ll sometimes take a small bowl of this pasta salad and mix in some tuna for a tuna salad – this is so great and easy for a lunch at work.