charred corn, black bean + jalapeno pasta salad with cilantro oil

by Amy on 21 July 2011

i love pasta salad. i could eat pasta salad (or really, pasta in any form) every day of the week. i especially enjoy it in the warmer days of summer, as it doesn’t involve much time in front of a hot stove + can be just as tasty chilled (if not tastier) as it is warmed.

i came across a recipe for charred corn + jalapeno pasta salad with cilantro oil on bran appetit, + while it looked delicious, i thought that some additional ingredients could make it even tastier. after thinking about the perfect flavor/texture combinations, i added black beans, fresh tomatoes, lime juice + cotija cheese to the original recipe. the results? absolutely perfect!

the cilantro infuses the olive oil with a lovely flavor + color, similar in taste to a traditional pesto, but with a slightly cilantro-y kick. the most surprising thing? my cilantro-loathing husband ate this. due to all of the complex flavors, the cilantro does not dominate this dish (as it sometimes can). instead, it lends a mild, delicious flavor to a wonderfully summery pasta salad. while this is great whether you serve it chilled, room temperature, or warm, i found that serving it slightly warm best showcased the amazing flavors. this is definitely going to be in heavy rotation throughout the rest of the summer + fall – it’s the perfect warm weather side!

charred corn, black bean, + jalapeno pasta salad with cilantro oil

makes 8 servings, adapted from bran appetit


1/3 cup fresh cilantro, minced
1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp olive oil, divided
3/4 lb. pasta (i used cavatappi)
kernels from 3 ears of fresh corn
2 jalapenos, seeds removed + pepper diced
the juice from 1 lime
1 can black beans, drained + rinsed
2 large tomatoes, diced
1/3 cup cotija cheese
kosher salt + fresh black pepper to taste


in a small bowl, stir the minced cilantro into the 1/2 cup olive oil + let this sit until ready to serve.

bring large pot of salted water to a boil. cook pasta until al dente. reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, + drain. set aside.

heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. add diced jalapenos + cook 3-4 minutes until softened. toss the corn kernels into the pan with the peppers + cook, stirring occasionally, until the corn starts to brown. add the black beans + heat a few minutes longer, until heated through.

in a large bowl, toss the pasta, corn, jalapenos, black beans + cilantro oil together. add in the diced tomatoes, lime juice, + cotija cheese. salt + pepper to taste.

serve warm, chilled, or at room temperature, depending on your preference.

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 tracey July 21, 2011 at 10:30 am

Amy this looks so refreshing,and tasty.I am with you on the pasta,we eat it in one form or another just about everyday.This recipe would be very good to take to a cookout.Thanks for sharing

2 amy July 21, 2011 at 10:38 am

it is delicious + yes, super refreshing! between the veggies, herbs, lime + cotija cheese, the flavors are so bright + fresh. it would be perfect with grilled steaks (that’s what we ate it with) or burgers. definitely good cookout food!

3 Elle July 21, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

This looks delicious! I’ve been craving pasta salad for a cool lunch during this heat wave. I may have to whip up a batch next week.

4 amy July 21, 2011 at 12:15 pm

i’m always happy to find new blogs through friends. since i’m also a newlywed food blogger in tennessee, i was especially glad to find yours! =) let me know what you think of the pasta salad if you make it – we thought it was just delicious!

5 Lesley July 21, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Oh yum! Minus the jalapenos, that is. I’m a big-time pepper-wimp.

6 amy July 21, 2011 at 12:26 pm

totally acceptable! you could substitute green poblanos if you like the flavor of peppers but not the heat. also, since you love cilantro, i bet you’d enjoy the cilantro-infused oil just tossed with hot pasta – it’s similar to basil pesto, but with a little cilantro kick. delicious!

7 sheila @ Elements July 21, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Ooooh…this looks fantastic! I’m nuts about pasta salads too, and I’m sure I would love this! I’d probably reduce the amount of cilantro because as much as I love it, more than just a little bit of it gives me really bad heartburn.

I’ve never heard of cotija cheese before, but I reckon I could use whatever I have in my fridge. :)

8 amy July 21, 2011 at 1:29 pm

isn’t pasta salad great?! cotija cheese is a mexican cow’s milk cheese that is used in lots of southwestern / mexican dishes. it has a wonderfully tangy, slightly salty kick. you could definitely substitute a different type of cheese – parmesan would work great!

9 Erica July 21, 2011 at 2:14 pm

mmmmmm! I totally saw Brandi make this and bookmarked! It looks so awesome! I love your noodle choice :)

10 amy July 21, 2011 at 2:21 pm

thank you! i use cavatappi in tons of recipes – it has a slightly more dressed-up look than the regular ol’ bowties or elbows, i think. you’re going to love this pasta salad – let me know how it turns out for you + how you adapt it, if at all!

11 Maris (In Good Taste) July 21, 2011 at 6:05 pm

This is a winning pasta dish. Pretty, colorful, healthy and don’t have to turn on the oven!

12 amy July 21, 2011 at 6:11 pm

the not-turning-on-the-oven part is my favorite! but seriously, this is one awesomely delicious dish. =)

13 Ally Garner July 21, 2011 at 7:03 pm

Sweet. Fancy. Moses. This looks so freakin delicious. Bonus: I already have the peppers, corn, cilantro, & tomatoes in my garden. I’m salivating over the idea of charring the corn together with the pepper & black beans and adding that to pasta & tomatoes. I’ve never tried cotija cheese, but can’t wait to taste it. I love original creations like this! Thanks for sharing Amy :)

14 amy July 21, 2011 at 7:20 pm

newsflash: i adore you. we had some ingredients in our garden, too, which rocked. i can’t wait to hear how it turns out for you! feel tweak the recipe as needed to make it ‘you’ – i know it’ll be great! cotija cheese is perfect for mexican + southwestern dishes but you can definitely sub in parmesan or asiago. maybe even a mild feta. enjoy! (+ take pics!)

15 Deborah July 22, 2011 at 12:44 am

That cilantro oil sounds heavenly !!

16 amy July 22, 2011 at 8:45 am

it is! i think the cilantro oil would be a nice change instead of basil pesto on pasta – the flavors are surprisingly similar, but it’s got a nice different kick to it. =)

17 New York Diaries July 28, 2011 at 4:45 pm

This looks so good! I’m so excited I discovered your blog!

18 amy July 28, 2011 at 5:16 pm

glad you found it, too! =) going to check out your blog now, also — i love meeting new bloggers!

19 Kelsey @ K&K Test Kitchen March 26, 2012 at 7:49 pm

Thanks so much for sharing this recipe Amy! My boyfriend and I totally loved it! So glad to have found you through SRC :)

20 amy March 27, 2012 at 10:40 am

you are so welcome – so glad to have connected with you, too! =)

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