I am a huge fan of Cafe Rio Salads. I really could eat one every day if my budget allowed. The creamy cilantro dressing is probably my favorite dressing. I love the flavors and saw on their menu awhile back they had a pasta salad. I didn’t have the heart to not order my regular Shredded Pork Salad but thought I could try and recreate a pasta salad with all of the flavors of Cafe Rio that I love. The result was such an awesome combination! This pasta salad is a complete meal, filled with whole wheat pasta, chicken, black beans, avocado, tomatoes, corn, all smothered in an amazing cilantro dressing. This salad was such a nice meal to make the other night when it was super hot and I didn’t want to turn on my oven. I used the grilled chicken from my freezer (as you can tell, I love that trick!) and so the part of this recipe that took the longest was boiling the noodles. Once they were tender you just throw everything together and you have a delicious dinner everyone will love! My kids are huge fans of pasta and gobbled this salad right up. I had to save me a tupperware for lunch leftovers the next day. I can’t wait for you to try this salad, you are going to love it!! Let me know what you think 🙂

Creamy Cilantro Chicken Pasta Salad
Salad
  1. 1 1/2 lbs. rontini (or any other) pasta, cooked and drained
  2. 1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
  3. 2 avocados, seeded, peeled and diced
  4. 1 red bell pepper, diced
  5. 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  6. 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  7. 2 boneless chicken breasts, cooked, seasoned and cubed (use chicken from your freezer for easy prep)
  8. 3/4 cup frozen corn, thawed
Creamy Cilantro Dressing
  1. 16 oz. jar green salsa verde (I use my homemade verde from green tomatoes)
  2. 1 pkg. buttermilk ranch dressing mix (dry)
  3. 1/2 c. sour cream
  4. 1/2 c. mayonnaise
  5. 1/4-1/2 c. milk or buttermilk
  6. 1 c. fresh cilantro
  7. 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  8. 1/4-1/2 t. cayenne pepper
  9. 1/2 t. salt
  10. 2 T. lime juice
  11. 1 t. cumin powder
  12. 2 T.-1/4 c. sugar (depending if you like the sweet flavor or not)
  13. Several drops Tabasco or Frank's hot sauce
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Instructions
  1. Boil the pasta in a large pot of water until al dente and then drain. Rinse noodles and place in a large bowl. While noodles are boiling, grill chicken until cooked through and no longer pink. Season the chicken with Montreal Steak seasoning or salt and pepper. Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces. Cut the grape tomatoes in half, drain the black beans, cut the avocado, thaw the frozen corn and chop the cilantro. Once the pasta is done, place these items into the pasta and top with the cooked chicken which has been cubed into bite sized pieces. For the dressing, place all of the ingredients into a food processor or blender, blend until smooth and pour over the pasta salad.
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