Fiesta Pasta Salad & Reducing Added Oils

I can't believe it's May!

I am not complaining though.

Here in Wisconsin, the weather is finally warming up and we’ve been able to get outside for daily walks, trips to the park, and play time on the driveway with chalk. My 18-month old absolutely loves to be outside. Lately, every time we come in, there are many tears. I’m envisioning a lot of play time outside this spring, summer, and fall. Plus, morning walks to the park (with a stop at the coffee shop for Mama, of course), lunchtime on the patio, gardening, and pool parties are what I am waiting for! 

Ah, pool parties. We have an in-ground swimming pool and love sharing it with family and friends. Having people over for pool parties certainly calls for refreshing food and drinks, am I right?! We grill lots of vegetables and bean burgers during the summer which are often accompanied with a side of fruit and maybe even a pasta salad.

Fiesta Pasta Salad, 2

As a plant-based eater, you would think pasta salad would be an easy go-to dish at summer pool parties or tailgates. However, most pasta salads include some kind of meat and/or cheese but always added oil. Olive oil and other oils are considered a healthy food by many. However, here at Wholesome, we strive to consume a diet low in added oils since added oils are a processed food and do not contain a high amount of nutrients--contrary to popular belief--making it a calorie dense food.

Say what? Let’s take a moment to think about it. What is healthier for you, an orange or orange juice? Right, the orange. Why? Because the orange still contains the flesh and fiber of the orange--the whole fruit is still intact.

Now, what is healthier, the olive or the olive oil? Ah, yes, the olive! To make olive oil, you press many olives. Your end result is oil and the flesh of the olive is left behind. It is the same concept as the orange versus orange juice. Just like we want to limit our intake of juice, we also want to limit our consumption of added oils. The goal is to focus on healthy fats from whole foods, such as avocados, nuts & seeds.

Fiesta Pasta Salad, 3

Whether you are 100% plant-based or looking to improve your overall health by including more plant-based foods into your diet, we have the pasta salad that will keep people asking, “Can I have the recipe for this?!”

Our Fiesta Pasta Salad is dairy, meat, gluten, and yes, even oil free. In this particular dish, we used Banza Rotini Chickpea Pasta* to considerably boost the fiber and protein. We promise the pickiest of eaters will not even notice the pasta is made out of chickpeas!

Bring this Fiesta Pasta Salad to your next, “bring a dish to pass” gathering this spring and summer and feel good about providing a dish packed with plant-based nutrients!

Fiesta Pasta Salad, 1

Fiesta Pasta Salad

Serves: ~10 side portions



2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon dried oregano

¾ teaspoon salt, or to taste

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 ½ tablespoons agave nectar (or, honey)

Juice of 1 lime, approximately 2-3 tablespoons

2 tablespoons water


1, 8 ounce box Banza Rotini Chickpea Pasta*

½ cup red onion, diced (about ¼ large red onion)

1 yellow or orange pepper, diced

1 red pepper, diced

1 cup frozen corn

1 avocado, diced

1, 15 oz can of black beans, rinsed & drained

½ - 1 jalapeno, finely minced (optional)

½ cup cilantro, loosely packed & chopped





Start by boiling water in a medium-large soup or stock pot. When it comes to a boil, add the pasta. Although the box directs cooking for 7-9 minutes, for this salad we recommend 5-6 minutes so the pasta is al dente. When the pasta is cooked, drain, and rinse immediately with cold water.

Next, in a large bowl, combine the onion, peppers, corn, avocado, black beans and cilantro. Add the rinsed pasta.

In a small bowl, combine the sauce ingredients. Stir until well mixed. Add the sauce to the salad. Fold the salad together until evenly combined. For best flavor, chill for at least 1 hour before serving.


Note: When using chickpea or legume based pastas, the dish is best the day of. The pasta can be easily replaced with  whole wheat pasta to extended the life of the dish. 

Fiesta Pasta Salad, Pinterest

*This recipe was created by Wholesome as an entry to Banza’s May plant-based recipe contest. This post is not officially sponsored by Banza, however, a box of Banza was provided to Wholesome to enter the competition. As always, this blog post contains my own opinions and words.