Chipotle Pesto Pasta Salad
You may have already noticed that I am a huge pesto fan. Any form, any nut and herb base, I just love it! I am constantly creating new spins on my very favorite sauce…which I also use as a dip or a spread for just about anything! I am telling you, I am crazy about pesto.
Anyway, this dish came about one day as I was trying my hand at (once again) creating a new take on pesto. And WOW is this chipotle pesto great! My husband and I absolutely LOVE this dish. My daughter is still a little young to appreciate the smoky heat the chipotle peppers bring to this pasta salad, but it is always a hit with friends and family.
The great thing about chipotle peppers in adobo sauce is that you get amazing, smoky flavor regardless of how much of the pepper you use. So, if you are not a fan of spicey food, just use less chipotle pepper (and avoid using the seeds!) in the pesto—you can still enjoy the wonderful smoky-ness without feeling like your face is on fire.
This pasta salad is one of those meals that is truly amazing at any temperature. I honestly don’t know which way I prefer it—hot, room temperature, or cold. Try it at all three temperatures and let me know!
If you have never cooked with chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, you can find them in the canned vegetable aisle or Latin American food section of your grocery store. Also, the hardest part of preparing this pasta salad is cleaning out your food processor. (Not the most fun task, but certainly nothing to complain about!) Seriously, this dish is SO quick and easy! Definitely a great weeknight meal. Hope you enjoy it! (:
Chipotle Pesto Pasta Salad
For the chipotle pesto:
- 1/3 cup blanched almond slivers
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 ½ cups cilantro leaves, don’t worry if you get a few stems, not a big deal!
- 1 clove garlic
- ½-2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, use more or less depending on your smoky spicey-ness preference
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- Fresh lime juice, to taste (I use about ¾ tsp)
- 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast, optional, but highly recommended
- 15 oz can of corn, drained
- 15 oz can black beans, drained
- 1 cup cheddar cheese, freshly grated (omit to keep this a vegan meal)
- 15-20 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 pound pasta
- Cook the pasta according to package instructions.
While the pasta cooks, make the pesto:
- Start by placing the almonds, sea salt, ground black pepper, cilantro, garlic, and nutritional yeast (if using) in the food processor. Pulse a few times to bring everything together, then process until the almonds are about the size of small pebbles
- Next add the chipotle peppers and the olive oil. Start with ½ of a chipotle pepper. Process for a bit, until the oil incorporates and the pepper breaks down. Taste. (It should be a little salty! Remember, you are putting this sauce over a pound of pasta, so the salt level will dilute once the pesto is coating the pasta.) If you would like to add more smoky heat, add more chipotle pepper. Keep adding and pulsing until you get to the desired heat, or stop at ½ of a pepper.
- Process until everything is mostly smooth, but the almonds still have a little texture. Add a little freshly squeezed lime juice to taste. Pesto is done!
Bring everything together:
- Once the pasta has finished cooking, drain it, put it back in the pot you cooked it in (save a dish!), and add in the corn, black beans, halved tomatoes, cheddar, and chipotle pesto. Mix until the corn, beans, and tomatoes are evenly dispersed, and the pesto coats everything.
- Garnish the salad with a little bit more cheddar on top if desired. Serve with greens and a side of Gardein. This pasta salad is fantastic at any temperature—hot, room temperature, or cold!
© Macarons and Mimi
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