Saturday, September 19, 2015

Mexican Pasta Salad


Yeah, I know, Mexican Pasta Salad doesn't even sound right. 

Purists would have a field day with this one! 

Okay, how about we call it Mexican Style Pasta Salad? Will that sit better with you? Will that make you sleep okay? Will that make the flowers bloom and the sun shine? Will that bring World Peace?! 

Oh I just remembered, I haven't taken my daily dose of xanax or valium or whatever those tranqs are. Which is why I'm up at 5 in the morning, hyper, typing away to glory, no filters. 

#ForReal

Yeah, sometimes the crazy takes over. Anyhooo, so it was raining here yesterday of all days, the entire day and the entire night. Admittedly, I love rains, everything to do with rains actually. The only thing I don't like about rains though is that dark gloomy clouds are no picnic for when you are about to take food pictures. They all come out looking like, well, you'll see. But I made it work. Plus, I don't have an artificial light set up. Aaaand I have no technical proficiency whatsoever when it comes to editing the pics after, so you've gotta make do today. Work with me my peeps! (Also I'm wondering when did I start to talk like a millennial). But you get my drift, don't ya?! 

Mexican Pasta Salad. Right! Thats what I was supposed to talk to you about right now. So this salad, is my version of what would be an amazing mexican caserole dish or something. I just added pasta to it instead of chicken and we had some guests over for dinner and well, they raved about how good it was and gorged on it and well in the end it just made me so proud that everything I put together- albeit in an instinctive manner, came to be so incredibly good. 





I used farfalle in this salad, you can choose whatever pasta strikes your fancy or whatever's lying in that pantry. I won't judge and neither should you. Just use something with ridges, so it can hold the dressing and the little bits of salad can hide in the nooks and crannies of the pasta so you get surprised with extra flavour in your mouth. You get the idea. You're smart. I trust you. 

Word to the wise: Now you can totally follow the recipe as is, but I would absolutely encourage you to swap the mayo with the sour cream or even some thick yogurt. Add in a small dollop of ranch, throw in some hot salsa or some sriracha and the salad will still be as fine! Just make it your own, give it your signature touch and well, lets get cookin'! 


Serves:  8-10

Time taken: 30-35 mins (depending on your chopping skills) 

Complexity: **

You'll need

2 cups wheat pasta, I used farfalle
Veggies of your choice
1 cup corn kernels
2/3 cup of red beans
2/3 cup of black beans
1 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
2/3 cup mayo
2 tbsp hot sauce
1 1/2 tbsp mexican seasoning (cumin, oregano, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt)
coriander or cilantro for garnish
salt to taste
Pinch of love

Method

So if you're like me, first start chopping the veggies. I don't have a chef's hand when it comes to knife skills and I take time with it especially because all those veggies are going to be visible in the salad. BUT, if you have knife skills, then by all means start by making your pasta first. I'll just show you how I went about the whole thing. 

I placed a pot of water on heat to get the water boiling. We want the water to come to a rolling boil before we add in the pasta. 

Meanwhile I began by chopping 1 big tomato



One red onion,



3-4 spring onions or scallions




1 red bell pepper



1 yellow bell pepper



1 green bell pepper. Now avocados in this would be great, so would be olives. 



And then set them all aside. 



The pasta water was on a rolling boil now. 



Added in the 2 cups of pasta to it. I used up a whole packet of pasta and saved some for later. 



Don't forget to add in 1 tbsp salt in your pasta. Seasoning it at this time is the most important. We won't be adding salt to the pasta later on. Let the pasta cook al dente.



The salt not only seasons the pasta, but do you see that as soon as I added in the pasta, the boil of the water turned into a simmer. The salt also helps bring back the temperature of the water so the pasta can cook evenly. Towards the last bit of adding the salt, you can see the water is starting to bubble up again. Mission accomplished! 




While the pasta's cooking, I made my dressing. Added the mayo in a bowl. Threw in the mexican seasoning or taco seasoning whatever you like to call it. I prefer making my own seasoning with the blend of ingredients mentioned above so I can control the amount of salt in my food. Also, it tastes much better than the store bought ones. Maybe it has something to do with the freshness. 



Dash by dash I added some tobasco sauce in. There's a whole lot of salad and about 2 tbsp of tobasco would keep things good n spicy (pun intended) 




Mix this up and set aside. If it looks too thick and gloopy right now, don't worry, we'll take care of it later. 



In a separate skillet, and now you can totally omit this step and add the corn kernels as it is but I like the extra hint of flavour that this adds. So what I did was, added a tbsp of butter in the skillet on medium heat. 



Added in paprika, oregano, cumin and salt and a few drops of olive oil to keep the butter from browning. 



When the butter has melted, add in corn kernels and let them saute for a couple of minutes till they begin to develop some colour and take on those delicious flavours. 



How gorgeous do these babies look! Golden perfection.



Then I strained half a can of red beans and half a can of black beans. You can just add the one type if you like. I just like a little bit o'everything. Washed them and strained them to let the excess water drain. Also try and use the ones with no salt added to them.



Your pasta should be ready right about now. Now comes the most important thing, save a cup of pasta water on the side. That starchy water helps bring everything together. Strain the pasta



In a large bowl add in the salad. All of it. Just mix it in. 



Throw in the pasta. I even tried aiming a rogue pasta in the bowl, it escaped, and didn't make it in the salad. I feel sorry for that amigo. 



Spoon in 3/4th of the dressing right now just so you don't overdo the dressing bit. 



Some cilantro for good measure and for that earthy whiff of freshness. Mix it all. Now check if the dressing is less, you can add a little more. Toss it again. By this time, the pasta was looking a tad gloopy and the dressing didn't seem to coat everything well. And that's where the starchy pasta water comes in. Add in 3-4 tbsp of that water, toss, add in some more as required till the pasta looks beautifully rich and perfectly dressed. Don't worry if you've missed out on that pasta water, you can add a good glug of olive oil too. I prefer the water over the oil though. 





Cover the bowl with plastic wrap to place in the fridge for atleast 2 hours before serving. Thats where the flavours all meld together and make magic. I usually make this a day prior to eating so the salad gets a chance to chill in the fridge overnight. The pasta and the salad and the dressing hang out and become bffs and taste magnificent later. 


Time to dig in. That medley of flavours and the vibrancy of colours makes this simple salad a great one! It's like watching the colours of Mexico come alive  



I dressed up the pasta with some tortilla chips. I mean, what's mexican style pasta without the chips! 



You can even grate some cheese over, like I did in a Taco salad I'd made earlier. Tastes super yummmm



This salad is good for upto 2-3 days in the fridge. Works well for picnics, office lunch, brunches, the options are endless. 



Those colours, those flavours!! Ay caramba muchacho!! Indulge!  







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