Pasta and Bean Picnic Salad

A picnic table without pasta salad feels like something is missing. You can put out all kinds of beautiful dishes, but pasta salad has to be one of them. It’s dependable, kids love it — and so does Nana.

This recipe combines pasta with beans and fresh vegetables for a more substantial picnic salad. The dressing is a simple vinaigrette – no mayo – so the flavors stay fresh and bright.

I like to use a small hollow pasta like pipe rigate, which are stubby little curlicues that look like the end of a pipe! I like that the beans magically fall into the round openings when you stir and serve the pasta, as if you had painstakingly placed them there.

This said, you can also use any of the flat or corkscrew shapes – penne, fusilli, rotini, cavatappi – or pretty bow-ties.

Pasta Bean Picnic SaladPrep work for this salad is minimal. You just need to cook pasta, make a vinaigrette, chop up some herbs and vegetables, and open a few cans of beans. Mix it all together and serve.

This recipe calls for a pound of pasta and two cans of white beans – it will serve a crowd, for sure! But with any luck, the table will have so much food that you’ll get to take some of your salad back home for lunch tomorrow.