Sante Fe 7-Layer Pasta Salad!

In the south, we love a good 7-layer salad.  Usually such a salad will be made with shredded lettuce, a layer of green peas and topped with a concoction of mayonaise mixed with a little sugar, some shredded cheese and bacon bits.  Everybody has their own little spin on it, some use Miracle Whip instead of the mayonaise, some use frozen peas, some use a can of Le Seur baby peas...most make it like their mama or grandma probably made it 30 or 40 years ago.  It's a staple at church potlucks, family reunions and sometimes holiday dinners.  We call it 'pea salad' in my family and my mother always makes pea salad when my sister and her family are coming to visit, because my sister and nieces love pea salad.  This 7-layer salad is a twist and a half on the traditional 7-layer 'pea salad', but it is so good also.  This salad is actually a meal all by itself.  It has lots of chopped chicken, beans, corn,'s pretty filling.

I love Tex-Mex food of any kind and this salad has a definite Tex-Mex flavor.  It's perfect for a light lunch or a potluck or even a night when you are having other Mexican foods and it's really easy to put together and can be made ahead of time.

 Here is what you will need:


3 cups chopped chicken ( I cooked three extra chicken breasts when I made the  Rotel Chicken Pasta Bake, but you could use a rotisserie chicken if you want to save time)
1 can Ranch Beans, rinsed and drained (can use chili beans or kidney beans)
3 cups uncooked pasta ( I used bowtie, but penne or rotinni would be great also)
1 cup Vidalia onion (If you do not have Vidalia in your area any sweet onion will work)
1 cup chopped red or green pepper
2 cups corn (I used frozen but canned is fine also, drained)
2 cups shredded chedder cheese
2 cups crushed tortilla chips
1/2 cup taco sauce

Dressing Ingredients:

1 pkg. ranch dressing mix
1 cup mayonaise
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup buttermilk or milk
2  Tbs. taco seasoning mix

If you are watching fat or calories, you can substitute light mayonaise, light sour cream or plain greek yogurt, and use low fat buttermilk in the dressing ingredients. 

First, make the dressing by mixing the ranch dressing mix with the mayonaise, sour cream and buttermilk or milk.  Add the taco seasoning and blend well until it has dissolved completely.  This makes a really good salad dressing for other salads also.  I put a dash of Tabasco sauce in this, but it's up to you how hot you like things. Place this in the refrigerator to thicken up and chill while you get the other ingredients ready.

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box minus about a minute so that it is al dente.  Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water.

Chop a cup of onion and cup of red or green pepper ( I used a little of both for the color)

Chop your chicken in bite size pieces.
After you have drained and rinsed the beans, place them as your first layer in a trifle dish or a glass salad bowl.  A clear glass bowl will show the layers and really looks appetizing.

Next, the corn.  If you are using frozen corn, don't cook it.  You don't really even have to thaw it actually.  If you are making this ahead of time, it will thaw by the time you serve it.  If you are using canned, be sure to drain it well.

Mix the pasta with about 1/2 cup of the dressing, just enough to moisten it, then layer it as the next layer.
Next, layer the chopped chicken and drizzle the taco sauce over this.
Spread the rest of a the dressing over this layer sealing to the edges of the bowl.

Sprinkle the 2 cups of cheese over next.  I used a cheddar/monterey jack blend.  Use whatever you like or have on hand. 
Sprinkle 2 cups crushed tortilla chips over the top for the last layer.  Fritos corn chips would also be really good if would rather use those.   You can serve this immediately or make it ahead of time and refrigerate.  If I were making it the night before, I think I would wait to put the tortilla chips on right before serving so they stay crisp.  I garnished with some fresh cilantro, but you could also add some chopped green or ripe olives or even some salsa or some good pico de gallo would be good.   Actually, it's good just as it is and even your picky non-salad eaters will probably eat this.

 Santa Fe 7-Layer Pasta Salad!


  1. Looks wonderful... I'm makin it for a reunion tomorrow. Thanks for sharing.

  2. This sounds delicious; can't wait to make it for a church potluck. Thanks!

  3. Layered salads always look good. But. I'm allergic to legumes so peas and beans are out.

  4. I can't wait to try this at my ladies meeting.
    Thank you for sharing. <3.

  5. I can't wait to make this for the ladies meeting at church. Thank you for sharing.

  6. I am soooo gonna make this, and if my family won't try it, more for me! (you know how kids are, they will eat stuff dropped on the floor, but won't touch a veggie)

  7. This would benefit with a wee bit of Chorizo sausage fried and crumbled over the chicken for even more of a Tex/Mex flavor.

  8. Anyone subsitute ground beef instead of beans?

  9. I know I will love it. It looks delicious

  10. I love these types of salads but have trouble serving them. They seem to always turn in to a mixed up mess. Does anyone have any tips to share? Do you toss it all together before the first serving so you get some of all the layers?



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