Happy Labor Day everyone! I was trying to think of something different than my usual BBQ regulars. I knew we were grilling steaks and making a spinach salad but I wanted a pasta salad, because well, I love pasta. I decided to go to my Southern California roots do something with a Latin/Mexican flair. I was watching Simply Delicioso with Ingrid Hoffman and saw a pasta that she was working on and it gave me TONS of ideas. But you know that as a food blogger I can never leave anyone’s recipe alone, so off my little mind went with ingredients dancing in my head. I figured go big or go home, so I threw all of my favorites at this pasta, well not ALL of them, but most of them. Wow, who knew that my little thoughts would go so far?
I love it when my little mental foodie trips take me to a good place, and this of surely did! There is creaminess, spicyness, all of the things you would want from a great side dish. I know I have said we love things hot here, but trust me this is not too hot. You will love every bit of this pasta salad. I will bet money on it!! Kevin said that from now on if someone asks us to bring a dish to a BBQ this is the one we are bringing!!
1 pound curly pasta (rotini, cavatapi)
1/2 fat free condensed milk
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup diced ham
1 cup crumbled Queso Fresco (can sub feta) cheese
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves (a good handful), chopped
1 lime, juiced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 avocado, diced
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, cook according to package directions. Drain, place in a large bowl and set aside.
While the pasta cooks, combine the evaporated milk, oil, Queso Fresco or feta, cilantro, lime juice and some salt and pepper in a blender. Puree until the dressing is smooth and creamy.
Place the drained pasta in a large bowl. Add the ham, bell peppers, onions, jalapeno, black beans, and avocado. Pour the dressing over the pasta and gently mix it into the salad. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours before serving.