Cowboy Pasta Salad

Assuming you haven’t made some variation of this dish already, you’ll just have to trust us when we say that it is GOOD. Definitely not your typical pasta salad, this cowboy version’s got a lot of unusual flavors that don’t typically come to the salad party, including (but not limited to): smokiness from the barbecue sauce and cumin, heat from the red pepper flakes, worcestershire and hot sauces, and brown mustard to really open up those nasal passages. This is not your average macaroni salad. Instead, it’s got some great Tex-Mex elements that beef it up, pun intended, and turn this into a full meal, if that’s what you’re looking for. So apart from the kick that the dressing brings to this dish, it’s chock-full of macaroni, grou

Cowboy Salad
30 minutes to prepare serves 8

INGREDIENTS
Salad:
1 pound pasta shells or macaroni, cooked according to package instructions and tossed with 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled, plus extra for garnish, optional
3/4 pound lean ground beef
1 (15.25 oz.) can whole kernel corn, rinsed and drained
1 (15.25 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, halved
1/3 cup green onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Dressing:
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons hot sauce

PREPARATION
In a medium bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce, and set aside until ready to use.
Cook beef in a large pan or skillet over medium-high heat until browned on all sides. Season with cumin, garlic powder, onion powder and red pepper flakes, and season with salt and pepper.
Once beef is cooked, drain fat, then transfer to a large bowl and add cooked pasta and bacon, corn, black beans, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, green onion and cilantro.
Pour dressing over salad mixture and toss to combine, sprinkle reserved bacon over the top before serving.

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