This dish tastes like summer in a bowl! Tangy, creamy jalapeno ranch-coated pasta combines with crispy fresh corn, cherry tomatoes, and bell pepper for a refreshing bite in this southwest jalapeno ranch pasta salad.
Pasta salad is the perfect side dish for a potluck, picnic, or just a quick lunch. It's easy to make ahead and keeps well in the fridge. It will taste great alongside juicy grilled chicken tenders at your next BBQ.
This dish uses my homemade creamy tomatillo ranch dressing along with fresh veggies, avocado, and pasta. Sprinkle on a little Cotija cheese for extra flavor!
This southwest pasta salad starts off with corkscrew pasta and homemade creamy tomatillo ranch dressing. Fresh chopped veggies, cilantro, avocado, and grated Cotija cheese round out the dish.
- corkscrew pasta
- creamy tomatillo ranch dressing
- red bell pepper
- cherry tomatoes
- Cotija cheese
See recipe card for quantities.
How to Make Southwest Jalapeno Ranch Pasta Salad
This easy pasta salad comes together in 15 minutes with just a few steps.
Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cool water.
While the pasta is cooking, chop the bell pepper.
Clean the corn and cut the kernels off the cob. Follow the instructions in this recipe on using a bundt pan to make this step easier.
Halve the cherry tomatoes.
Chop the cilantro.
If you are serving the salad immediately, dice the avocado. Otherwise save this step until right before serving.
Make the creamy jalapeno ranch dressing if necessary.
In a large bowl combine cooked pasta, corn, tomatoes, cilantro, and bell pepper.
Add 1 cup of salad dressing and stir until combined.
Serve topped with diced avocado and grated Cotija cheese.
Hint: Diced avocado will brown quickly, so save that step until just before serving.
This recipe can be customized to include what you have available or adjusted to your taste.
- Pasta - I used cellentani or corkscrew pasta, but rotini or bowtie pasta would also be great. Really anything with crevices to hold the dressing will work fine.
- Corn - Fresh corn is amazing in this dish, but feel free to sub frozen if needed.
- Bell pepper - I used red bell pepper, but any color works.
- Cherry tomatoes - Sub grape tomatoes or even diced full size tomatoes.
- Jalapeno ranch dressing - The jalapeno ranch dressing is really the star of the dish, but if you don't have time to make it from scratch you can pick some up at Cafe Rio or try 1-¼ cups of store-bought buttermilk ranch dressing mixed with ¼ cup salsa verde.
- Cotija cheese - Cotija can be hard to find. Feta or queso fresco makes a good substitute.
Pasta salad can be made ahead and stored in the fridge for 3-5 days in an airtight container. If you have stored it for longer than a few hours the pasta will absorb a good amount of dressing, so add another ¼ cup or so of dressing and toss again before serving.
What to Serve with Southwest Jalapeno Ranch Pasta Salad
These are my favorite dishes to serve with southwest creamy jalapeno ranch pasta salad:
Southwest Jalapeno Ranch Pasta Salad with Corn and Cherry Tomatoes
- 16 ounces corkscrew pasta
- 1-¼ cups jalapeno ranch salad dressing
- 2 ears corn
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 10 ounces cherry tomatoes halved
- ½ cup cilantro chopped
- 1 avocado diced
- ½ cup Cotija cheese grated (optional)
- Cook pasta as directed. Drain and rinse with cool water.
- While pasta is cooking, cut the corn off the cob. Dice the bell pepper. Halve the cherry tomatoes. Chop the cilantro.
- Combine cooked pasta, corn, bell pepper, tomatoes, cilantro, and salad dressing together in a large bowl. Mix well.
- Just before serving dice avocado. Serve pasta salad topped with diced avocado and Cotija cheese if desired.