Creamy Loaded Taco Pasta Salad

Some­times, a yum­my recipe idea flash­es into my thoughts and before even tast­ing it, I just know — this one’s gonna be a win­ner. That’s what hap­pened with this recipe — stand­ing in the mid­dle of aisle 4 at the gro­cery store.

Yes, I was inspired at the sight of a great sale on my favorite brand (and shape) of dried pas­ta. Yes, Montebello’s pas­ta was on sale 2 for $5 and that is the best price I’ve ever seen. Ama­zon is sell­ing it for $5-$8 per bag.

So, I stocked my pantry with 10 bags at $2.50 a piece and am one hap­py gal — until I run out.

See­ing a great sale on Conchiglie made me start think­ing about a new ver­sion of pas­ta sal­ad. The spe­cif­ic shape of Conchiglie lends itself to pas­ta sal­ad per­fec­tion because the tubes are slight­ly short­er than mac­a­roni but are wider and have grooves on the out­side. I imme­di­ate­ly imag­ined all of the creamy sauce and “fixin’s” that could be cap­tured inside each noo­dle.

One thing led to the next and I’d set­tled on using my home­made taco sea­son­ing and sev­er­al add-on’s to cre­ate this Creamy Taco Pas­ta Sal­ad.

When cook­ing this pas­ta, be sure to cook it slight­ly under al dente. So take a minute or two off of the rec­om­mend­ed cook­ing time.

Here’s what you’ll need for the add-ons:

  • fresh, diced toma­toes (drain off any juice)
  • cel­ery, diced
  • diced green chilies
  • red bell pep­per, diced
  • cilantro, chopped
  • a can of fies­ta corn, drained
  • shred­ded medi­um or sharp ched­dar

Next comes the dress­ing. For this spicy, creamy dress­ing I used my home­made taco sea­son­ing blend — you can find the recipe HERE or you can pur­chase a pack­et of my taco sea­son­ing direct­ly from me if you don’t feel like trekking to NM to get your hands on the very best spices. (You can also use a foil pack­et of taco sea­son­ing from the store — just be aware that salt con­tent and thick­en­ers may alter the fla­vor and con­sis­ten­cy of your pas­ta sal­ad).

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • taco sea­son­ing
  • sour cream
  • mayo (I always use Hellman’s light)
  • kosher salt (My home­made taco sea­son­ing is pur­pose­ly scant on salt so that the salt can be adjust­ed to any recipe and one’s per­son­al taste. If using store-bought, you may not need to add any salt.)

Mix the dress­ing togeth­er and begin the rapid-fire assem­bly.

Com­bine all veg­gies, reserv­ing a few table­spoons of diced toma­toes and a sprin­kle of cilantro for gar­nish.

Fold in the dress­ing, stir­ring to com­bine all ingre­di­ents even­ly.

Ah, this was the moment I knew :: “this is going to be good”.

Gar­nish with the shred­ded cheese and remain­ing toma­toes and cilantro and refrig­er­ate at least 2 hours. Be sure not to incor­po­rate the cheese until right before ser­vice. When cheese comes in con­tact with mois­ture it turns into a creamy, unpleas­ant tex­ture.

Right before serv­ing, toss the pas­ta sal­ad once more and serve. To add a lit­tle crunch ((since this is “Taco Pas­ta Sal­ad”)) sprin­kle each serv­ing with a few chili cheese Fritos to real­ly dri­ve home the deli­cious fac­tor.

So creamy, a touch of heat and the added crunch of veg­gies and Fritos = pas­ta sal­ad per­fec­tion.

Creamy Taco Pas­ta Sal­ad
Serves 16
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Prep Time
25 min
Prep Time
25 min
  1. 1 lb dried pas­ta (mac­a­roni or conchiglie)
  1. 2 T taco sea­son­ing**
  2. 1 1/2 c sour cream
  3. 2 1/2 c mayo (I always use Hellman’s light)
  4. 1 t kosher salt
  1. 1 c fresh, diced toma­toes (drain off any juice)*
  2. 1 c cel­ery, diced
  3. 4 oz diced canned or roast­ed green chilies, drained
  4. 1 c red bell pep­per, diced
  5. 1/2 c cilantro, chopped*
  6. 11 oz can Mexi corn, drained
  1. 12 oz shred­ded medi­um or sharp ched­dar
  2. 1 bag of chili cheese Fritos (option­al)
  1. Cook and drain pas­ta accord­ing to pack­age direc­tions, cook­ing 1 to 2 min­utes less than rec­om­mend­ed.
  2. Pre­pare dress­ing by com­bin­ing all dress­ing ingre­di­ents.
  3. Add veg­gies to the pas­ta, reserv­ing a few table­spoons of toma­to and cilantro for gar­nish. Top with dress­ing and stir to com­bine.
  4. Top with ched­dar cheese and remain­ing toma­toes and cilantro. Cov­er and refrig­er­ate for 2–4 hours.
  5. To serve, toss and top with a hand­ful of chili cheese Fritos if desired.
  6. Serves 16
  1. *reserves a few table­spoons of toma­toes and cilantro for gar­nish
  2. **link to taco sea­son­ing recipe is locat­ed in the body of this post
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