Pasta and bean salads are great for summer. Because this doesn’t have any mayonnaise in the dressing, it holds up well when the sun sizzles and you don’t want to. This is a one-bowl-salad. You’re just going to toss everything into the bowl as you dice it. The salad is really very simple to prepare, but it takes a bit of time, because you need to dice everything about the same size—the size of a pea, more or less. When I served this last night, I had it in a pretty bowl, garnished with a sprig of mint and then I took pictures of the White Sangria. But, not the pretty salad. Can you believe it? I tell you The Goddess scares me. She really needs to be watched. She does, or her head will roll off her shoulders onto the floor. But it is, what it is. I used a Cavatelli 27 pasta, which is smaller than regular Cavatelli. I like this shape because it retains its shape and has a slightly “meaty” texture. DO NOT over-cook the pasta. It’s better to err on the side of every so slightly under-cooked.
I used a Cumin-Lime Vinaigrette, but The Latin Lover Vinaigrette would be wonderful, too. You’ll probably want to add a little extra salt, if you use The Latin Lover Vinaigrette, as the pasta and beans suck it up. I usually put a good bit of salt right on the pasta when it comes out of the cooking pot. I’ve indicated that in the recipe. I also like to put the dressing on while the pasta is hot. I have no proof-positive, but I think the salad has a better flavor.
This salad keeps well and I think it might just be better made the day before. But, I think you taste the flavors best when it’s at room temperature. The texture is better, too.
A note about the corn—I put the ears in the microwave just the way they came from the field! I don’t remove the silk or the husks. I push the “fresh” vegetable button on the microwave and let the magic of the microwave do its thing. When it beeps, about 3-4 minutes for 2 ears, 4-5 minutes for 3 or 4 ears, remove it from the microwave. Let it sit on the counter for 5-10 minutes. It will finish cooking and begin to cool down and make it easier to handle. Then, just peel the husks back and the silk will come right off with it. I do it right over the garbage can. Take a very sharp knife and cut the kernels off the cob, getting as close to the cob as you can, without getting any of the actual cob. Sometimes that’s easier said than done! If you turn a cup upside-down in the bottom of the bowl, and place the tip of the ear on it, you may find it’s easier to cut the kernels off the cob. Who know why? It’s one of life’s little mysteries.
Summer Pasta-Bean Salad with Tomatoes, Corn and Avocado
- Grated zest of 1 orange (optional, but it’s very refreshing)
- 1 can small red beans or black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup dry pasta cooked until barely al dente
- 1 small zucchini, diced (blanch in the pasta water)
- 1 sweet potato, cooked and diced (do not overcook)
- 3/4 cup diced cherry tomatoes (use garden tomatoes in season)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (add to the pasta after it’s cooked)
- 1/2 cup small diced red bell pepper
- 1/2 cup small diced red onion
- 1/2 cup small diced English cucumber (I don’t peel it)
- 2-4 ears cooked sweet corn, kernels cut from the cob
- 1 avocado, cut into small dice
- 1/4-1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves coarsely chopped
- 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
- 1 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (toasted first, if possible)
- 1/4 cup good olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
To make the vinaigrette: Put all the ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lit. Shake like crazy. Set aside.
To prepare the salad: Get out your large bowl. Place the ingredients in the bowl, as you finish dicing them. I usually add the pasta last, sprinkle the salt over it and pour the dressing over. Toss and let stand at room temperature for at least 1 hour. Taste and add more salt or lime juice if needed.
Summer Pasta-Bean Salad with Tomatoes, Corn and Avocado Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2016. All rights reserved.
This salad lends itself well to personal preferences. I didn’t put as much corn in this time, only 2 ears, as I wanted there to be more balance of ingredients. I really wanted the pasta and beans to come through. This can be a corn-centric salad when fresh corn is in abundance. Use the full 4 ears and omit the pasta and beans. The problem is, I sorta, kinda, like the pasta and beans. Again, choices. Make it the way you want it.
If you want to use a carrot, which I rather like, then I add the diced carrots with the pasta to the boiling water. I just cook them together and about 2 minutes before I’m going to drain the pasta, I throw in the zucchini. It just take the raw edge off of the carrots and zucchini. If you don’t mind the extra crunch, then use them raw. I toss the pasta into the bowl last, on top of all the veggies. Pour on the vinaigrette, which you can see in the jar in the upper left corner along with my water glass! You may have noticed that quite frequently there is either a glass of water or a cup of coffee in many of the pictures. I’ve always got one or the other going. I drink, okay?Oh, yes. Don’t forget to salt the pasta well. You’re going to use a good bit of salt (you can still see the salt) and it seems to absorb the salt better while it’s hot.
It turns out, I like pasta and bean salads with some interesting friends added, too. Make this salad your own. You’ll make this salad (and this vinaigrette, too) all summer long, changing the vegetables to what’s in season.