This is a recipe of my darling dad’s, who is sadly, heartbreakingly, no longer with us. My dad was a late bloomer in the cooking department, but once he got going, there was no stopping him! He was the mad scientist to my mom’s Betty Crocker, doctoring a recipe or just making it up as he went along. He never met a spice or condiment that he didn’t like – and I definitely take after him in that regard. I’m not exactly sure where this pasta salad recipe came from, but it’s right up my alley with lots of spices and goodies in every bite. My dad had such a zest for life and that always came across in his cooking – full of flavor, fun and gusto.
This is a great summer picnic salad; it just feels beachy and fun to me. Never mind it’s November. I’m just going to pretend I’m still in Buenos Aires, where it’s Spring, so there. And yes, you can eat it right away, but it gets better if it sits in the fridge for a few hours so the flavors get incorporated into the pasta and everything gets nice and cold.
1 pound penne (or other pasta with nooks and crannies, e.g., fusilli, farfalle)
1 15-ounce/210 g can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup corn (about 2 ears worth of fresh)
1 cup celery, diced (about 2-3 stalks)
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup pickled pepperoncini, chopped (optional, but this is what gives it some heat)
Tabasco or other hot sauce (optional)
2/3 cup Italian salad dressing (bottled or homemade)
1/2 cup mayonnaise or Veganaise
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1//4 teaspoon cayenne
Salt to taste
Boil the pasta in salted water according to directions. While the pasta is cooking, chop and prep all your veggies. Make the dressing in the bowl you’re going to serve the salad in and dump the veggies in. Drain the cooked pasta and add to the bowl, mixing well. Taste for seasoning; add salt if necessary.