Once I conquered my fear of baking a cake without a box mix, I was hooked on making every element of every meal from scratch. Hamburger buns, condiments, crackers, ice cream – I love making it all myself. Really, if I can find a way to needlessly complicate a recipe, I will.
At this point, it takes an unbearably hectic week to keep me from churning my own butter, so to speak.
So. It was a week until pay day, which meant protein = beans. I was planning to make my southwestern-spiced pasta and bean salad, when I realized that I had not one, not two, but THREE half-empty, opened bottles of Ranch salad dressing in the door of my fridge. Could I really justify buying buttermilk and sour cream and three different fresh herbs to dress my salad?
I could not. So I tossed my salad with bottled dressing, and it was perfectly lovely.
As much as I love cooking and baking from scratch, my option to do so is a luxury. It requires time, money, energy, access to fresh fruits and vegetables, a place to store both fresh foods and dry goods, reliable transportation to the market, potable water, pots and pans, cupboard space, and cooking skills, just for a start.
Sometimes I have all of those resources to spare, and just like most people, other times I don’t.
I hope you enjoy this recipe.
Continue reading for the Southwestern Bean and Pasta Salad recipe
- 8 oz pasta shells or elbow macaroni, cooked per package directions
- 15 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed, or ⅓ pound dried kidney beans, soaked and cooked
- 1 lb frozen corn, thawed and drained
- 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 can California olives
- 1 cup low-fat ranch dressing
- 1½ tsp Cajun seasoning
- ¼ cup chopped scallions, green parts only
- Combine the pasta, beans, corn, tomatoes, and olives in a large mixing bowl.
- Whisk together the dressing and Cajun seasoning and gently stir into the pasta mixture.
- Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving.
- Top with scallions.