I recently talked with a friend about Arizona culture. While he’s convinced it only consists of prickly cacti, I grew up ogling at the colorful red dirt landscape and beautiful adobe houses. (I’m positive I’m the only person who ever looked like a tourist in a perfectly ordinary suburban neighborhood. The Arizonans are probably still laughing at me.)
Those childhood summer vacations to visit my grandparents were definitely memorable. Although stepping outside felt like entering an industrial-sized oven turned all the way up to “broil,” walking to the local Mexican restaurants was worth the heat. They teased me with their delicious southwestern flavors, using ingredients I’m still too timid to handle.
Until I find the courage to dice a habanero or make a tamale, I’m sticking with my Californian-slash-southwestern-influenced meals. And what could be better than a simple pasta?
Use your favorite salsa, and finish it off with a little mozzarella cheese! Leftovers reheat wonderfully, and they’ll keep for at least 4 days if stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
1½ cups dry rotini pasta (whole wheat or quinoa noodles!)
½ cup salsa (I used Safeway Select Southwestern)
1 cup canned low-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
½ cup corn (fresh, frozen and thawed, or canned and fully drained)
- Bring a medium pot of water to boil, and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain when done.
- In a large bowl, mix remaining ingredients. When you drain the pasta, microwave the salsa, beans, and veggies on high for 1 min, or until hot. Stir in pasta and serve immediately. (Or serve cool as a pasta salad—both taste excellent!)