A clean, refreshing take on pasta salad, perfect for a summer cookout. I prefer to keep it pretty basic in terms of seasonings, but you can definitely take liberties--freshly toasted and ground cumin seed is a nice touch, as is a hit of fresh or dried oregano (particularly the Mexican variety) or marjoram. As for the corn kernels, I like to cook them briefly, but depending on the time of year and your geographical location, you could probably get away with using raw kernels as well. Note that this recipe also works well as a dip or condiment if you want to omit the pasta. —Chris Hagan
green onions, trimmed, thinly sliced (I usually use the white parts and about 2 inches of the greens, give or take)
red bell pepper, 1/4-inch dice
jalapeños or serrano peppers, seeded and minced
garlic cloves, minced
small handful of spring radishes (6 or so), trimmed, 1/4-inch dice
cooked black beans (or two 15 oz. cans, drained and rinsed)
sweet or supersweet corn kernels
cilantro, finely chopped (or more to taste)
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
juice of 2 limes
generous 2/3 cups
conchigliete, orzo, or other small pasta
ripe but firm(ish) avocados, halved, pitted, and the flesh cut into small cubes (optional)
Combine everything but the pasta (and the avocados, if using) in a large bowl.
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain, but don't rinse.
Add the cooked pasta to the bowl. Toss to combine. Allow to sit for at least a half hour, preferably longer, for the flavors to meld. Taste and adjust seasonings. More olive oil may be necessary depending on the juiciness of the lime. Chill if desired. If using, gently fold in avocado cubes before serving.