Om Nom Nom: “Chili” Pasta Salad

It is a fact of life that chili is a nearly perfect dish. It’s hearty, it’s spicy, and its vegetarian versions actually taste delicious if prepared properly. One problem that it does pose, though, is that it isn’t exactly suited to summer consumption unless you are trying to clear your sweat glands. Despite my Southern upbringing, I don’t “glisten.” I sweat, and it’s gross.

Now that I’ve totally revolted you by putting the image of me sweating in your mind, I am going to give you a recipe.

This is why I am not a regular food blogger. FAIL.

So, moving on. My mother in law Sidney made this “chili” pasta salad for us last summer and we were immediately hooked. It takes some of the best things about chili and makes them fit for consumption during the hottest days of summer. It’s delicious and easy to make when you want something filling but don’t want to be in the kitchen all day. It’s a crowd-pleaser and makes a great addition to any potluck.

Or you can be like me and just eat the entire bowl. No judging.


1 12-oz. box farfalle (bowtie) pasta

1 lb. lean ground beef

1 15.5-oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

2 ears sweet corn, shucked

8 oz. cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

1 small red onion or 1/2 a large red onion, finely chopped

1 cup chopped cilantro

3 tbsp. olive oil

4 tbsp. fresh lime juice

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

2-3 tsp. chili powder

shredded Monterey Jack cheese, to garnish

*This is the kind of dish you can totally wing it with. If you like corn, add more. If you dislike cilantro, substitute parsley or even spinach. Make it your way.


1. In a large pot, bring 5-6 cups of salted water to boil and add the ears of fresh corn. Boil them for about five minutes and then remove them and allow them to fully cool. They should be firm and not mushy. Meanwhile, season the ground beef with S&P, brown it in a nonstick pan, and then drain the excess fat if there is any (if you use lean beef there shouldn’t be much). Once it’s browned, set it aside to cool.

2. Bring the same water you used to cook the corn back up to a boil and add the pasta and cook it until it is al dente. Drain it and set it aside to cool (or if you’re impatient like me, just rinse it with cold water.)

3. Once the corn is cool, remove the kernels from the cob by holding each ear upright in a medium bowl and running a chef’s knife down it. The bowl will catch the kernels.

3. In a large bowl, combine the kidney beans, the corn, the chopped onion, the halved tomatoes, the pasta, and the ground beef.

4. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, the lime juice, the chopped cilantro, and the garlic together. Add it to the pasta mixture along with the chili powder and mix it all together. When serving, garnish with the cheese.

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  1. Looks amazing! I can’t wait to try it!

    1. I hope you love it as much as I do!

  2. Looks yummy. Too bad I don’t cook anything except eggs and pasta. And sometimes ice cream. And by cook I mean put in my mouth after someone else has prepared it.

    1. If our paths ever cross I will make it for you ;)

      1. oooh, I look forward to that!

  3. I love chili. Thanks for sharing an easy recipe! I’m definitely not a great cook.

    1. This is the perfect recipe for you. It requires no skill whatsoever. Just a giant bowl ;)

  4. I made this last Friday night !! Xtra corn & xtra cilantro is how I like it….and by the bowl…

    1. We should make it in Florida! Between you, me, and B it will last probably 15 minutes.

  5. TheTragicWhale · · Reply

    This looks delicious, I’ll definitely have to give it a try!

    1. Please do and let me know how it turns out for you!

  6. Om Nom YUM! Looks delish.

    1. Please try it! I’m trying to find a ways to integrate quinoa into it :)

  7. I’ve done something similar before. I had some chili but felt I needed an extra dose of carbs so I topped some pasta with the chili. Which I think is similar to marinara sauce anyways because of the tomato base of chili.

    1. That sounds really good! Chili is very reminiscent of bolognese sause so it would go great with pasta.

  8. krugthethinker · · Reply

    I remember when you made this for us in Berkeley! Om nom nom indeed! :)

    1. It is just too good not to share! :)

  9. The corn is a really nice addition!

    1. Fresh corn is an absolute must-add to so many dishes when it’s in season. Thanks for commenting!

  10. […] cook new, interesting things and then work up enough enthusiasm to write posts about them. The last time I posted a recipe was when C was six weeks old, and since then, I’ve been cooking, but I […]

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