One of the obligatory foodie magazine articles (they're a on three year cycle) decries the horror of pasta salad and proceeds to spend 3 pages deconstructing the pasta salad so that they can rebuild it into a stronger, better, faster bionic pasta salad that will amaze your friends and change your mind about pasta salad forever, provided, of course, that you follow their recipe exactly. Quick, dash to the store for feta and endive!
Some times you plan your potluck contribution carefully and you have time to buy smoked truffle oil and champagne vinegar. Sometimes you forget about the potluck until that afternoon and you have to wing it.
The key to winging it is having a pantry with things in it that you bought because you never know when you might have to wing it. For this salad it was a can of white beans, a can of black beans and a box of pretty colored pasta shells. I am forever buying dried pasta that has an interesting shape or color. It's a habit I recommend. You never know when you're going to have to wing it. (And if you are a better pantry person than I am, you might consider having some truffle oil and champagne vinegar around, too.) I used cilantro for this, but if you're one of those people who think cilantro tastes like soap, or if your spice blend is more Italian-style, you can use flat leaf parsley.
This is vegan, and if I were feeding someone with gluten intolerance I would cook up some interesting rice in lieu of the pasta.
What's in your pantry?
Pantry Pasta Salad
12 ounces small pasta shapes.15 ounce can black beans
15 ounce can white beans
juice of two limes (or substitute apple cider vinegar)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon dried herb blend (mine was called Adobo blend, but your favorite herb blend will be fine.)
2 bell peppers (I used yellow and red)
1 bunch cilantro (or parsley)
Cook pasta to al dente, usually the short end of the recommended cooking time.
While you're waiting for the pasta to cook, drain and rinse the beans. Rinsing canned beans removes about 40% of the sodium, and gets rid of some of the “canned” flavor. Put beans in your largest mixing bowl.
Juice the limes and add the lime juice, olive oil and herb blend to the beans. Stir gently, canned beans are soft and prone to breaking.
Drain the pasta and add to beans while still hot. Stir gently.
Core, seed and chop the bell peppers to pieces about the same size as the pasta, add to pasta.
Remove and discard cilantro stems. Finely chop the leaves and add to the bowl. Stir gently.
Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. If your spice blend is salt-free you may want to add some salt, and the whole thing may need some freshly ground black pepper.