Southwestern Pasta Salad

Southwestern Pasta Salad | Pick Fresh Foods



I’m going to start by saying the World Cup is ruining my life.  I can’t seem to get away from it. If my television isn’t on a game, it is on ESPN.

Ok, so the World Cup is not really ruining my actual life, but my DVR watching life.

My son has managed to erase the entire contents and has recorded every soccer game since the World Cup began. Of course, I had no idea he had done this until I sat down with a little free time and watched to catch up on some recorded shows.

I almost never have time to watch a show when it is actually being broadcast, so that DVR captures everything I have missed.


Southwestern Pasta Salad | Pick Fresh Foods


So, I asked, “why do you need to record every game?”

My husband…it’s like the Olympics it only happens every 4 years. You don’t want to miss it!

Me…You are watching the same game you are recording!

Son…shrugs and says, “I might want to go back and watch it again if there were really good goals.”



Southwestern Pasta Salad | Pick Fresh Foods
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Since June 12th, three games have been recorded every day. My DVR is 85% full with nothing but soccer.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy soccer. My son has been playing since he was 5 years old.

It’s that I can’t remember what shows were so important that I recorded them! Haha


Southwestern Pasta Salad | Pick Fresh Foods


Thankfully, one thing I can always remember is a good recipe! This Southwestern Pasta Salad is one of those.

I’ve been making this for years, like at least 10 years. It is one of those salads you never get tired of and everyone always enjoys.



Southwestern Pasta Salad | Pick Fresh Foods


This Southwestern Pasta salad has great bold flavors from the dressing and ingredients. I particularly love the crunch of the bell peppers and the creaminess of the tortellini.

Depending on who I am serving to I alter the spiciness.

My kids don’t like anything spicy, so for them I make it mild.

But, if you like spicy then I use pepper jack cheese and a medium salsa.


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Southwestern Pasta Salad
Shared By: 
  • 8 oz pasta orecchiette or shells
  • 9 oz cheese tortellini
  • 1 large orange bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup Monterey jack cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup sliced black olives
For Dressing
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup salsa
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • ⅔ cup vegetable oil
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Toward the end of the pasta cooking time, add the tortellini to the pot to cook.
  2. Prepare dressing while pasta is cooking.
  3. Strain the pasta and tortellini, place in large bowl.
  4. Add bell pepper, tomatoes, corn, green onions, cheese, black olives. Pour dressing over mixture, stir to combine.
  5. Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.
For Dressing
  1. In a bowl with high sides add garlic, salsa, seasonings, and vinegar.
  2. Using an immersion blender slowly add in the vegetable oil.
  3. Blend until combined.





  1. Hi Cindy, confession, McDonalds Southwest salad is my favorite! But yours looks at least 10x better and is surely more nutritious. And the fact you’ve been making this for 10 years and everybody still loves it tells me that it’s awesome. Say no more. I love how you can adjust the spice level, I’m so so like your kids on the spice, my husband and children like it hot. Thanks Cindy! Pinned!!

    • I’ve never had that salad. I’ll have to look it up 😀 We seriously love this pasta salad. The flavors all blend so well with the pasta and tortellini. I Really love that you can adjust the heat without losing any flavor. Thanks for Pinning, Laura.

  2. World Cup really is taking over the world! But that is precious DVR space!! Haha! This looks like such a delicious pasta salad – I love all the flavors you used!

    • It really is Cate! I couldn’t believe everything was gone. Thank goodness for On Demand, Netflix, and Amazon.
      Thanks Cate 😀

  3. Love that you combined pasta tortellini with southwestern flavors and using salsa in the dressing is so clever! Pinning!

  4. consuelohoneyandfigs says:

    World cup isn’t taking over our TVs anymore hahaha which kinda makes me happy because I hate hate hate watching sports on TV 😉
    This salad looks amazing! Love how you used salsa in the dressing :)

  5. I am saved… :) Hubby not a fan of the world cup.. 😉
    Cindy ! This salad looks delicious.. absolutely love the flavours.. 😀

    • Arpita, you are lucky. My son is crazy for soccer. he leaves the room and I change the channel. The second he is back he puts the soccer back on.

  6. What a fresh and colorful salad. It’s great. Even though we grew up in Europe, where soccer if very popular, we have not watch a single soccer game. Not really interested either :-)

    • Thank you! It would seem to me to be practically impossible to not see a soccer game. You are kind of like me with football. It is everywhere here, but I’m not crazy about it.

  7. I love pasta salad! I love the southwestern twist, sounds absolutely delicious. Pinning!

  8. Yum! Love these flavours and love orecchiette! :) I’m actually not a huge World Cup person, so I guess I’m lucky to be tv-free this week.

    • I too love orecchiette pasta. It is great at hold the dressing in this pasta salad.
      I’d be just fine with the soccer if it were all day, everyday. Thankfully, I can find lots of other ways to stay buys.

  9. Oh no! I would be so mad if my husband erased all my shows with sports shows! Maybe they will re-run some of them and you will get to catch them later! I’m not a huge sports fan, but my husband loves all sports, so I totally know how you feel.

    As you probably already know, I’m obsessed with Mexican food, but I have never made a southwest style pasta before and now I’m wondering why! I love pasta, so I need to make this right now! Thanks so much for the idea!

    • Oh, I was mad! I was actually in disbelief for a few minutes. He did apologize and felt bad. I’m hoping to find them On Demand or on Amazon. Oh well. 😀
      This pasta salad is really great. Love the flavors and the dressing is delicious.

  10. Haha, yikes, hopefully after the World Cup you get your DVR space back :) This is such a pretty and colorful pasta salad. Love the southwestern twist! It sounds amazing! Hope you have a great weekend Cindy :)

    • No kidding! Somehow, he even managed to erase the shows I had scheduled. Crazy!
      Thanks Kelly, I love all the colors in this salad. It’s just so bright. 😀
      Have a great weekend!

  11. I’ll TOTALLY be making this with spaghetti squash!!! :)

  12. I cannot fathom why anyone would want to watch the same sport event twice! Sorry for you that all your tv watching has been erased. At least you had this great pasta salad to comfort you :)

  13. This pasta sounds delicious- I love Southern food and flavours!

  14. spicedblog says:

    Hahaha! I love that your son is recording all of the World Cup games. I haven’t been recording them, but I have been sitting here working on the desktop with the laptop right next to me showing the games. What? It only comes around every 4 years! :-) This pasta salad looks amazing, too…I love recipes like this that you can keep in your back pocket and know will be delicious!

    • I was totally okay with the watching and recording, until I realized he had erased my programs. Thanks David. This pasta salad is delicious and I love that it doesn’t have mayonnaise. 😀

  15. Oh goodness, that would be too funny … except I feel your pain! I don’t watch very much TV and so when I actually have time to sit down and watch DVR shows, I don’t mess around {too much :P} At least they are enjoying it! And maybe it is better … more time to make more salad! I adore pasta salads, I look forward to them all winter, and this southwestern twist sounds delish! Pinned!

    • You are right Mary Frances, not watching TV gives me lots of time to do other things 😀 I love this pasta salad. Thanks so much for Pinning!

  16. Oh that’s so funny about the World Cup! We haven’t gotten into it — although I see that it’s very exciting this year. I never watch anything live anymore either — I love blowing through the commercials on DVR. :) I would never get tired of this pasta salad, Cindy — I love Southwestern flavors! Pinning. :)

  17. Some recipes are in my brain permanently too! I never forget a good one. This looks like the perfect dish to eat and watch the soccer games over and over and over again 😉

    And I love tortellini! So underused. Mmmmm.

  18. What a magnificent pasta salad…no wonder it’s been in your repertoire so long!
    PS…my boys are obsessed with soccer, too…but neither is living at home this summer, but when they’ve visited recently, there’s a lot of soccer watching and chatter :)

  19. I would very much enjoy this lovely pasta salad (spicy, please…) while watching the World Cup games. My house is likewise all about that right now. My 9-year old is rather obsessed…and I have to admit it has been pretty exciting, like the Brazil vs. Chili game today!

  20. Cindy, if you’ve been making this for 10 years, then that’s a good enough recommendation for me!! Haha! The dressing in particular sounds very tasty indeed.
    Sorry about all the ‘footie’. I got off lightly this time because of the time zone thing and no way to record where I’m living right now over here in Australia. At least the end is in sight! 😉

  21. Gorgeous salad Cindy! It looks delicious and I love all the colors!

  22. Boys and their soccer. It is CRAZY. And it is taken over my life as well, against my will. Love all the flavors in this pasta salad!!

  23. No, not your previous DVR recording space!! I can imagine the look on your face haha. World Cup has taken over my house too, every single tv, every single day. I do love football too so I don’t mind, and I would love to chow down on this pasta will watching it. It’s so vibrant and beautiful!

  24. Cindy this is just perfect for those hot summer lunches!

  25. The World Cup has taken over the world by storm! I have my best friend to thank for making me a football addict! She kept insisting that I watch a match and one match was enough to get me hooked. Now my mum has to skip all her TV series so I can watch the matches! 😀 I can easily see myself eating a LARGE bowl of this scrummy pasta salad watching the matches. I love my food spicy so I am going to add more of the heat! Yum!!!!! Totally pinning this! 😀

    • Samina, you know exactly what I am talking about when I say it has taken over everything. It’s finally winding down!
      Thanks so much for Pinning, friend 😀

  26. yes to funky pasta salads!!! loving this fun spin Cindy :)

  27. I ADORE southern food and this gorgeous salad is definitely calling out to me! I’m thinking this is gonna have to happen this holiday weekend! Pinned. :)

  28. Hello cindy :)

    Glad that am here on your blog :) . I am a very big fan of pasta .And one of friends used to make pasta for me .But this time we are going to try it in a different way. The recipe is truly cool. I really loved the idea of adding corn to pasta :) . Going to give it a try for sure :)


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