Southwestern Barbecue Chicken Pasta Salad

This is a great summer pasta recipe and perfect for a Labor Day Cookout. It makes good use of leftover chicken, or use an already cooked rotisserie chicken from the store.) It has all the flavors of summer, with a southwestern flair – cilantro, red peppers, corn, black beans – and it’s quick to make.

It keeps nicely in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, just reserve a little of the dressing (which is the real secret to this dish) to perk up the pasta just before serving.

Southwestern Barbecue Chicken Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad:

1 pound corkscrew pasta
1 cup frozen corn
2 cups shredded grilled chicken
1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 small red onion minced
1 jalapeno chile, seeded and minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
3 tablespoons lime juice


1 cup mayonnaise
2 ½ tablespoons cider vinegar
2 ½ teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon prepared horseradish
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1. Make Dressing: Mix all ingredients in blender until smooth, about 1 minute. Refrigerate sauce in airtight container for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.

2. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta and cook until nearly tender, about 8 minutes. Add corn and cook 1 minute more. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water, then drain pasta and corn. Transfer pasta and corn to large bowl and refrigerate until completely cooled, at least 30 minutes.

3. Stir in chicken, beans, bell peppers, red onion, jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice, and 3/4 cup of dressing into the cooled pasta and corn. Add reserved pasta cooking water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until sauce is loose. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve. (Salad can be refrigerated in airtight container for up to 2 days. Check consistency and seasonings, adding reserved dressing if needed before serving.)