Where I live, spring is more than a change of seasons.
It’s a restoration of faith in the universe. Because somewhere, lurking far back in the deepest corners of our frost-addled psyches, is the fear that this year winter is never going to end.
(Or maybe that’s just me.)
But it does end, and daily the expanse of green spreads, and that first chorus of frogs at night means we’re safe for another year.
Spring here is a moment to catch your breath. It’s short. There’s barely time to put the winter clothes away before barbecue seasons starts.
And we’re almost there.
Taco Pasta Salad is exactly the kind of dish you might want to bring along.
You can make it ahead of time. It works as a main dish or a side. And omnivores and vegetarians will all like it.
(Veganify it by using vegan sour cream in the dressing and omitting the cheese.)
In the meantime, this can be a sit-down-at-the-table kind of meal, too. With windows open wide.
- 4 cups / 1 liter uncooked rotini or penne pasta
- 1 red bell pepper cut into 1-inch / 2.5 cm squares
- 1 green bell pepper cut into 1-inch / 2.5 cm squares
- 1-1/2 cups / 375 ml corn
- 1 cup / 250 ml cherry tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon / 15 ml olive oil
- 1 medium onion finely diced (about 1 cup / 250 ml)
- 3-4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon / 5 ml salt
- 1 tablespoon / 15 ml cumin
- 1 tablespooon / 15 ml chili powder
- 2 cups / 500 ml cooked black beans
- 1/3 cup / 80 ml water
- 2 teaspoons / 10 ml oregano
- 1 avocado peeled and cut in chunks
- 2 tablespoons / 30 ml lime juice
- 1/4 teaspoon / 1.25 ml salt
- 1/4 teaspoon / 1.25 ml pepper
- 1/2 cup / 125 ml salsa
- 1/4 cup / 60 ml sour cream
- 2 tablespoons / 30 ml olive oil
- 1 cup / 250 ml grated Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese
- 2 cups / 500 ml crumbled tortilla chips
- 1/2 head iceberg lettuce shredded (optional)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and cook pasta until it is tender but not too soft. This should take approximately 7-8 minutes. (Adding salt to the water will improve the taste of the pasta. One teaspoon / 5 ml should be enough.)
Drain and rinse pasta with cold water. Place in a large mixing bowl with red and green peppers, corn and cherry tomatoes. Toss to mix.
While pasta is cooking, heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add oil and stir to coat pan. Add onions and cook 2-3 minutes until onions are soft. Do not let onions brown. If they start to brown, turn down the heat. Add garlic and salt and cook for 1-2 minutes more.
Add cumin and chili powder and stir to coat vegetables. Cook, stirring frequently to prevent spices from burning, for 1-2 minutes. Add beans and coat with spice mixture.
Add water and simmer for 10 minutes or until the mixture has thickened. Stir frequently to prevent beans from sticking. Add oregano.
Remove beans from heat. Let them cool slightly, then mix gently into the pasta.
Mash avocado with a fork. Add lime juice and salt.
Stir in salsa, sour cream and oil until thoroughly combined.
Pour over pasta and toss to coat.
Gently stir in grated cheese and tortilla chips.
Place shredded lettuce (if using) in serving bowls, and spoon pasta salad over.