Spicy Vegan Southwestern Pasta Salad

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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vromans back

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Pasta salads are so easy & vegan ones can sit out at a BBQ with no worry of anything going bad (like mayo).  I made this for a Memorial Day party but I added WAY too much chili powder.  I am going to reduce the quantity I suggest here.  The fact is – you could just toss the ingredients with your favorite BBQ sauce & call it a day – but the lime juice & chili powder add some depth.  I used these noodles below – but I broke the long noodles into thirds.  I love this pasta because it looks cool & photographs really well but any pasta at all will do.  The quantities of the ingredients are loose & you can go with more or less of lots of them with no negative impact on the salad.

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Spicy Vegan Southwestern Pasta Salad


1 lb pasta – cooked & drained under cold water

1/4 olive oil

1/4 cup lime juice

2 tsp chili powder (I used 2 TBS & it was NOT a good thing)

1/4 cup (or more) BBQ sauce (I used Hak’s Thai Chili Tamarind – because that is what I had – but a more traditional BBQ sauce might suit this salad better)

2 tsp cumin

1-3 garlic cloves – minced

12 oz frozen corn

1 (15 oz) can black beans – drained & rinsed

1 bell pepper – chopped (I used an orange one)

1-2 jalapenos – chopped (I used red ones)

4 tomatoes – diced

1/4 cup chopped cilantro


Extra cilantro as garnish

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Whisk the olive oil, lime juice, chili powder & cumin together.  Set aside.

Toss all the remaining ingredients well.  Add the olive oil mixture incrementally – tasting as you go.  You might not use all of it.  Season with S&P & maybe stir in more BBQ sauce.

Serve with additional cilantro.

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Southwestern Vegan Beef & Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie with Chipotle Sweet Potato Mash

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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vromans back

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I am all about Beyond Meat!    Click HERE to get a coupon to try some yourself & to use their store locator.  This brand is the absolute best vegan meat on the market – in my opinion.  These beefy crumbles are so delicious that even unapologetic carnivore & hyper-finicky eater, the badass Miles Miller, ate this shepherd’s pie & declared it delicious.  He even went on to rave that he would eat this fake ground beef in pasta or in tacos etc etc.  This is a man that takes the TEENSIEST nibble of remotely questionable foods (like any vegetable or dish that is new to him or anything vegetarian) & often even indulges in a sour expression of distaste to make his displeasure clear.  But not in response to this stuff.  I am convinced that you need not even tell a meat eater that this stuff is fake.  They would be very unlikely to guess.

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That said – shepherd’s pie is pretty hard to photograph.  I even Googled an image search to see how others had pulled it off.  Pretty much everyone leaves it in the pan it was cooked in – because, when plated, it spills out & can just look like chunky mush.  In the interest of full disclosure, I stacked two servings on top of each other to create that deep, lasagna look.  You can do this, too, when serving it – otherwise a single serving looks sorta anemic.

This came together in an hour – start to finish – and is really, really easy.   I would use more sweet potato, in the future, to create a deeper pie but it is full of flavor & has a bit of a kick.  Used random vegetables I had in the house from my Farm Fresh to You delivery but you can use whatever floats your boat.

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Southwestern Vegan Beef & Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie with Chipotle Sweet Potato Mash

Serves 6


for the chipotle sweet potato mash

6+ medium sweet potatoes – peeled & cubed

2 chipotle peppers – minced

1 TBS adobo sauce (from the can of chipotle peppers)

4 TBS vegan butter

1/3 cup or more almond or soy or rice milk


for the shepherd’s pie

18 oz vegan ground beef

6 small carrots – chopped

2 sunburst or pattypan squash (or zucchini) – chopped

1 bell pepper – chopped

1 serrano pepper – chopped (seeds removed for less heat)

1 small red onion – chopped

2 celery stalks – chopped

2 garlic cloves – chopped

1 chipotle pepper – minced (or more for more heat)

2 TBS olive oil

1 TBS canned or fresh jalapeno – chopped

1 TBS cumin

1 TBS garlic powder

1 TBS onion powder

Handful of cilantro – chopped (and extra for garnish)

Cayenne or chili powder

Extra vegan butter

(other vegetables you could use might be corn, peas, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli)

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Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Boil the sweet potatoes until very soft.

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil and, basically, heat all the shepherd’s pie ingredients until the vegetables are soft.  Season with S&P.  Add more canned jalapeno or chipotle or adobo for more spice.

Mash the sweet potatoes with the milk, butter, chipotle peppers & some S&P.  Taste & season with more chipotle peppers or adobo sauce or S&P.

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I treated a casserole pan with cooking oil & put the meat & veggies in there & then spread the sweet potatoes on top.  Sprinkle some cayenne or chili powder on top & drop a few butter cubes on there, too.

Bake for 30 minutes or until it begins to brown a bit.

Serve with cilantro.

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Southwestern Salad with Spicy Chipotle Avocado Ranch Dressing (Vegan)

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.


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Nothing complicated about this one.  Just mix up the ingredients that appeal to you & shake up the dressing.  This is as pretty as it is flavorful.  This goes really well with my 4-Ingredient Easy Enchilada Mac & Cheese!  In fact, I served both of these plus my Beef & Veggie Shepherd’s Pie Empanadas to my guests on Easter Sunday.  At any rate – just choose which of the fresh ingredients you like & combine them in whatever ratio pleases you & toss in some dressing.  Easy-peasy!

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Spicy Chipotle Avocado Ranch Dressing

Makes a lot


3/4 cup mayonnaise (or vegan alternative – I used Vegenaise)

1/2 cup sour cream (or vegan alternative)

1/4 cup milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)

1/2 large avocado

1 small tomato – diced

2 scallions – chopped

2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce – minced

2 tsp lime juice

1/4 tsp white or black pepper

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp dry dill

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Blend this shit up in a blender or food processor.  Taste & add salt or other seasonings if you care to.  Chill – and that means both you & the dressing.

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Southwestern Salad

The quantity of each of the suggested ingredients is up to you – depending on how many you are feeding and which ingredients you like more.


Just chop & toss some of these items:

Romaine lettuce

Cherry tomatoes

Black beans

Garbanzo beans


Corn (fresh off the cob or not)


Bell peppers of all colors

Garnish: Tortilla strips, grated cheese, chopped cilantro

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