1 1/2 cups (250 g) grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced
1 1/4 cup (209 g) black beans, rinsed well (approx. 1 can)
1/4 cup (30 g) red onion, finely diced
2 tbsp finely diced cilantro stems*, very finely chopped
1/2 cup (54 g) dairy-free cheddar cheese shreds (optional)
To serve* (optional): avocado, chopped cilantro leaves
Cook the Pasta: bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add your pasta, and cook according to the package instructions. When finished cooking, rinse the pasta with cold water to bring it down to room temperature – otherwise it will par-cook the fresh ingredients.
Sear the Corn (Optional): While the pasta is cooking, add the frozen corn kernels to a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring the corn occasionally to cook all of the liquid out. The corn will start to brown around the edges and brown “bits” will appear on the bottom of the pan; once the corn is seared to your liking, add 2-3 tablespoons of water to the pan and use a wooden spoon to scrape the bits off of the pan and onto the corn. Cook until all of the water is evaporated, then set aside. If you don’t want to sear your corn, simply thaw and add to the pasta salad with the rest of the vegetables.
Make the Dressing: Add the mayo, lime juice, taco seasoning, and salt to a large bowl; whisk until well-combined.
Assemble & Serve: Add the chilled pasta, seared corn, tomatoes, black beans, onion, cilantro stems, and vegan cheese (optional) to the bowl; use a spatula to gently mix everything together until all pieces are coated in dressing. Divide the pasta salad into serving bowls, then top with avocado and cilantro leaves (or as desired). Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days, but this is best served the day it is made.
Mayo: if you do not want to make your own mayo you can use a vegan store-bought version; the final sauce will be a little runnier, but this won’t affect the final taste
TacoSeasoning: I followed this recipe to make my own blend, but you can use store-bought as well! Just read the ingredients before buying because some taco seasoning blends contain dairy.
Cilantro Stems: I recommend using cilantro stems instead of leaves in this recipe because they have the same flavor, but will not wilt.
Serving: top the pasta salad with avocado and/or cilantro leaves only just before serving! I do not recommend mixing them into the salad as they will wilt and get mushy.