PASTA: Prepare the pasta according to package directions. (Don't cook all the pasta; only use 2 cups!) Make sure to generously salt the water (I add 1 teaspoon to every 4 cups of water), or the whole salad will taste under-seasoned. If using frozen corn, add it in with the pasta for the last minute of boiling. Drain pasta, rinse under cold water, let cool, and allow to completely dry.
CORN: See Note 1.
VEGGIE PREP: Chop the green onions, coarsely chop the cilantro, very finely chop the jalapeño, cook and crumble the bacon. Crumble the cheese. Drain and rinse optional black beans. Lastly, chop the avocado into small pieces.
DRESSING: Combine all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper. (I add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.) Whisk until smooth and refrigerate until ready to use.
SALADASSEMBLY: In a large bowl, combine the completely dry and cooled pasta, cooled corn, avocado, onions, cilantro, jalapeños, bacon, and cheese (See Note 2). **If you don't plan on eating this in one sitting (and soon after it's made), don't add the bacon, cheese, or avocado. Add those in separately right before enjoying.** Drizzle on dressing and gently toss to coat. Enjoy salad immediately! Leftovers don't store well once dressed.
Note 1: Several different options for corn preparation:
Grill the corn until lightly charred all over. To grill corn: Peel back husks and remove the silk. Rub vegetable or olive oil on all sides of the corn and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Place on heated grill (400-450 degrees F) and rotate every 3-4 minutes or until charred and corn is easily pierced with a fork, about 12 minutes total. (This also works on a grill pan!)
Buy pre-roasted canned corn (near regular canned corn in the grocery store) and use 2 cans of that (thoroughly drained).
Buy regular canned corn and roast it for a few minutes on the stovetop.
Heat a large cast iron skillet on medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes or until very hot. Drain corn and place in a single layer and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring once in between or until browned. Avoid stirring too often as this will keep the corn from getting a good roast.
Or, use frozen corn. Add it into the boiling pasta water for the last minute of cooking time.
Note 2: For a more authentic Mexican Street Corn flavor, go for Cotija cheese. It's typically near specialty cheeses in the grocery store. An easy alternative is Queso Fresco cheese which is generally near mozzarella and refrigerated tortillas in the grocery store. Depending on the cheese used, you may want to use less than the recipe indicates. (Cotija is much saltier than Queso Fresco, so you'll want a lot less; closer to 3-4 tablespoons). Add cheese slowly to desired personal preference.Nutrition information includes the optional black beans.