Southwestern Pasta Salad with Chili-Lime Vinaigrette

Southwestern Pasta Salad comes together with a chili-lime vinaigrette and tons of veggies, and pairs it with a high-protein, plant-based pasta for a side dish you'll love!

Southwestern Pasta Salad is a fun twist on the typical picnic side dish. With a chili-lime vinaigrette, peppers, tomatoes, and more, it's healthy and nutritious. We also amped up the protein by using a high-protein pasta such as chickpea, but feel free to use any pasta you want. As written, this recipe is gluten-free, too! Woo hoo. It's a really great and healthy meal prep.

Southwestern Pasta Salad Ingredients

This recipe has two parts: the vinaigrette, and the salad itself.

Chili lime vinaigrette for Southwestern Pasta Salad

For the Chili Lime Vinaigrette:

  • ½ cup avocado oil
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
Ingredients for Southwestern Pasta Salad

For the Pasta Salad:

  • 8 oz. protein penne pasta
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • ½ medium red onion, diced
  • 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
  • 14.5 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • ½ cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican-style cheese

How to Make Southwestern Pasta Salad with Chili-Lime Vinaigrette

Southwestern pasta salad with dressing poured over ingredients

First, start off by whisking together all the vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl or jar. You can make this a day or so ahead of time, too, FYI, for those who REALLY like to break up their meal prep efforts!

Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain, and rinse well under cold water. Set that aside. In a large bowl, toss the pasta with the veggies—the peppers, red onions, corn, and tomatoes—along with the black beans. Finally, add in the cheese and chopped cilantro. Drizzle the dressing over the top and toss it all together to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste, if needed. (It's never a bad idea to check your seasonings!)

How to Store and Serve Southwestern Pasta Salad

We love this for a good meal prep. Pasta salads like this one can keep in the fridge for 4 to 5 days in a sealed airtight container. Portion it out as you see in the photos here for a great on-the-go lunch or dinner. Serve with a green salad if desired, for a dinner. or you can even really serve this as a side or an appetizer. It's good to bring to a potluck of any kind and especially helpful as a room temperature dish in the warmer weather.

Substitutions and Alterations

Southwestern Pasta Salad close up in glass dish with serving fork

As written, this recipe is gluten free and high protein; it contains plant-based pasta which is higher in protein and black beans. But feel free to use regular pasta if you like. And it doesn't have to be penne, but can be other short stubby pasta such as rotini or even cavatappi (which is a fun shape, but not always an easy one to find!)

Feel free to use any kind of bell pepper you like—green, yellow, or orange. The colors make it look pretty.

You can substitute dark red kidney beans for the black beans and it'll still taste great and hold up.

A squirt or two of fresh lime juice would really perk up all the flavors here in this salad.

Skip the cheese if you are vegan, or use a vegan cheddar cheese instead.

Add cooked chopped chicken to this salad.

Other great add-ins include a pepper with some heat (such as jalapeno), chunks of avocado (although they'll get a little brown with oxidation so we'd recommend adding that right before serving), or even some fresh mango if you want to make the flavors a tad more tropical.


Southwest Pasta Salad

Southwestern Pasta Salad

This easy pasta salad takes its cues from Southwestern flavors and pairs it with a plant-based, high-protein pasta. Gluten free!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free
Keyword: vegetarian
Servings: 4
Calories: 703kcal
Author: Meal Prep Mondays


For the Chili Lime Vinaigrette

  • ½ cup avocado oil
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

For the pasta salad

  • 8 ounces penne pasta plant based, such as chickpea pasta
  • 2 bell peppers diced
  • ½ medium red onion diced
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes halved
  • 14.5 ounces black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup cilantro finely chopped
  • 1 cup Mexican-style cheese shredded


  • Whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl or jar. Set aside.
  • Cook pasta in salted water until al dente, according to package directions. Drain, rinse well under cold running water, and then transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the bell peppers, onion, tomatoes, black beans, and corn to the large mixing bowl, and toss to combine with a wooden spoon or spatula.
  • Add cilantro and cheese and stir until well-combined.
  • Divide the pasta among four meal prep containers and seal them. Refrigerate up to 4 days.



Calories: 703kcal | Carbohydrates: 65g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 40g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 22g | Cholesterol: 27mg | Sodium: 546mg | Potassium: 682mg | Fiber: 19g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 2934IU | Vitamin C: 86mg | Calcium: 272mg | Iron: 8mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @mealpreponfleek or tag #mealpreponfleek!

AboutMeal Prep Mondays

Meal Prep Monday is the day that meal preppers around the globe are sharing and inspiring others to lead a healthier lifestyle.

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