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Pasta and Bean Picnic Salad

Pasta and Bean Picnic Salad

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Pasta and Bean Picnic Salad! This is a spin on classic pasta salad with a white beans, fresh summer vegetables, and a light vinaigrette. No mayo.

Photography Credit:Sheryl Julian

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.

Prep 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. (You can also make your beans from scratch on the stove or in a pressure cooker!) 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.

Pasta and Bean Picnic Salad Recipe

This recipe can be prepared up to a day ahead.


  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 1 pound small-shaped pasta (curly, twisted, corkscrew, shells, or bow-ties)
  • 7 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 cans (15-to 16-ounces each) white beans, like Great Northern, navy, or cannellini, drained and rinsed
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pint mixed cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced or cut into quarters
  • 2 stalks celery, halved lengthwise and very thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley


1 Cook the pasta: Bring a large pot of water with 2 teaspoons of the salt to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes or until the pasta is tender.

Drain but do not rinse; shake the colander to remove excess water.

2 Combine the pasta and beans: Transfer the pasta to a large bowl and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Shake the bowl to distribute the oil.

Add the rinsed beans and lemon zest to the hot pasta. Stir the salad gently. Leave to cool.

3 Make the dressing: In a bowl, whisk the vinegar, mustard, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Slowly whisk in the remaining 4 tablespoons oil until it is all added.

Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like.

4 Finish mixing the salad: Pour the dressing over the pasta and beans and stir. Add the tomatoes, celery, onion, and parsley to the pasta mixture and stir gently but thoroughly.

Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. You can also squeeze some lemon juice over the top if it needs a touch more brightness.

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How to Make the Two Most Popular Pasta Salads on Allrecipes

These easy, crowd-pleasing pasta salads are 5-star favorites.

Summertime is salad time, and pasta salad ranks right up there as one of the season&aposs most popular types of salad. Infinitely customizable, pasta salad is a perfect make-ahead for light meals at home or as a take-along to picnics or potlucks. Nicole McLaughlin, aka NicoleMcmom, showed you how to make potato salad, and now she&aposs going to demonstrate how to make the two most popular pasta salads on Allrecipes. One has a vinegar-based dressing and the other has a mayonnaise-based dressing, and they both have hundreds of solid 5-star ratings from our community of home cooks. Watch the video up top and scroll down to get links to the recipes plus Nicole&aposs top tips.

1 Quick Italian Pasta Salad

This Italian pasta salad is bursting with fresh flavors! Peppers, salami, olives, and mozzarella make this a perfect picnic side dish or weekday lunch!

2 Crunchy Ramen Salad

This MyRecipes crunchy noodle chicken salad is loaded with vibrant flavor and dynamic texture that everyone will love, and the salty-sweet peanut dressing definitely seals the deal.

3 Grown Up Pasta Salad

You know that pasta salad from childhood (you know the one — rotini, canned olives, grape tomatoes, cubed cheese)? MyRecipes made a few swaps to create a fully grown-up take that still hits all the nostalgic notes we crave.

4 Bacon-Ranch Pasta Salad

Smoky bacon and cool ranch dressing belong together — it’s indisputable. Southern Living offers a creamy pasta salad using cherry tomatoes, crispy bacon, cavatappi pasta, Parmesan, fresh dill, and a to-die-for dressing using ranch seasoning and a few other hidden gems.

5 Magnificent Macaroni Salad

Macaroni salad is a classic barbecue, potluck, or picnic side dish. This recipe is full of flavor and perfect for a party or meal prep! Pasta, hard-boiled eggs, and other tasty add-ins are tossed together to make a creamy and delicious pasta salad.

6 Caesar Pasta Salad

Southern Living knows how to spruce up a classic. You'll make a creamy Caesar salad dressing to add to cooked fusilli pasta, along with tomatoes and Parmesan cheese, and romaine lettuce for a flavorful pasta salad.

7 Broccoli, Grape, and Pasta Salad

If you're a broccoli salad fan, you'll love the combination of these colorful ingredients. This simple, sweet-and-salty salad from Southern Living is one of their most popular recipes.

8 Zucchini Noodle "Pasta" Salad

This healthy zucchini noodle salad from EatingWell has all the flavors you love in a classic Mediterranean pasta salad, but they've swapped in zoodles for wheat pasta, which makes the salad lighter, lower in carbs, and gluten-free. Serve it with grilled chicken or fish for a light and healthy summer dinner.

Recipe Summary

  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 ounces small pasta shells
  • 3/4 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into thirds
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup red-wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 can (15.5 ounces) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15.5 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 4 scallions (white parts only), thinly sliced
  • 5 stalks celery, thinly sliced

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 3 minutes less than package instructions. Add green beans and cook 3 minutes more. Drain and rinse with cold water.

In a medium bowl, combine mustard, vinegar, honey, and oil. Add pasta mixture, pinto beans, chickpeas, scallions, and celery toss gently. Season with salt and pepper.

Summer Pasta Salad Recipes

Perfect for a potluck or summer weeknight dinner, these pasta salads go great with your favorite recipes from the grill.

Related To:

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Pasta Salad

Classic caprese salad meets summertime pasta salad with this white wine vinaigrette-topped version.

BLT Pasta Salad

Summer Pasta Salad

This classic pasta salad, packed with a bounty of summer vegetables and fresh herbs, is the perfect thing to make after a trip to the farmers' market. Look for the tastiest produce at the peak of its season, like crisp radishes and cucumbers, juicy tomatoes and sweet raw corn. We recommend allowing the pasta salad to marinate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Summery Shrimp and Green Bean Pasta Salad

Whether it&rsquos grilled or chilled, shrimp is a real treat at any cookout or backyard barbecue. Why not add it to a simple, seasonal pasta salad?

Creamy Succotash Pasta Salad with Bacon

Succotash is a summertime staple. Give the classic ingredients (lima beans, corn and tomatoes) a makeover by adding cooked pasta &mdash and salty bacon!

Roasted Broccoli and Bacon Pasta Salad

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Summertime Pasta Salad with Tomatoes, Corn and Jalapeño Pesto

Here we are, smack dab in the middle of June, and I’m looking out at gray skies. Why?! I don’t know about you, but dreary weather slows me down and sunshine motivates me to skip right along. At least I have a bowl full of summertime goodness in the fridge to tide me over for a while.

This salad concept came to me when I found an ear of corn in my vegetable drawer, a remnant of my cowboy caviar recipe. I whipped up a bold pesto made with fresh cilantro and parsley, toasted pepitas and a jalapeño, which adds extra freshness and a bit of kick.

Then I tossed in some sliced tomatoes, raw corn and black beans. Pasta salad for days! You can easily change up the flavors, and I’ve typed up some suggestions below.

If you’re sensitive to spice or find the idea of jalapeño in pesto to be downright strange (I think it’s lovely), you can skip it altogether. For less spice, be sure to remove all the membranes and seeds from the jalapeño. You might also taste the jalapeño beforehand to make sure you haven’t gotten an overpoweringly spicy pepper on your hands.

Feel free to change up the herbs in the pesto, too. I’m crazy for cilantro but basil would be great, too (or just double the parsley for parsley pesto). If you find the pesto to be too strongly flavored for you, try letting it rest for 30 minutes or mixing in some Parmesan to temper the flavor a notch.

I love the salty, creamy feta in this recipe, but for a dairy free/vegan version, replace it with avocado. You might need to add a bit more salt, to taste. Sun-dried tomatoes are a great add-in, if you have some. I like the dehydrated kind from Trader Joe’s, which are somehow still pliable enough to eat right out of the bag.

Recipe Summary

  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 pound rotini (corkscrew) pasta
  • 1 cup sliced snow peas
  • 1 cup thinly sliced carrots
  • ½ cup shelled English peas
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • ½ cup diced bell peppers
  • 1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
  • ¼ cup finely diced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons sliced green onions
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

Whisk Dijon mustard, cider vinegar, rice vinegar, salt, sugar, and cayenne together in a large bowl for about 30 seconds. Whisk in olive oil in 1-teaspoon increments until emulsified. Whisk in tarragon, dill, parsley, chives, and thyme. Remove and reserve 1/2 of the dressing in a separate small bowl.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil cook rotini at a boil until tender yet firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Add snow peas, carrots, peas, and broccoli about 2 minutes before the pasta is done. Drain pasta and veggies well, but do not rinse.

Transfer hot pasta mixture to the vinaigrette in the large mixing bowl and toss well to combine. Let rest for 5 minutes and toss again. Toss occasionally until the mixture is almost room temperature, 15 to 20 minutes.

Add bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, red onion, green onions, salt, and the reserved dressing and toss well.

Wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours before serving. Toss and adjust seasoning before serving.

Here are a few ideas for picnic gear that will last all season. Some I own and some are on the wish list.

Willow Picnic Basket with Lid: For romantic, small picnics, this basket is lined with lace, and rather perfect for summer picnics.

Extra Large Picnic Blanket: Whether you&rsquore off to the beach or a local park, this extra large blue and white striped picnic blanket is water-resistant and sand proof and rolls into an easy-to-carry blanket.

Coleman Power Chill Cooler: This portable, electric cooler keeps food warm and cold. It&rsquos one I purchased early this season. It&rsquos large but perfect for road trips, picnics, and camping. Plug it into your car or a portable battery.

Shop your house for wicker baskets, hand-me-down vintage blankets, and even charming quilts that can be washed. All help make the perfect picnic!

Whole Wheat, All the Way!

Whole wheat pasta is perfect for creating wonderfully healthy and refreshing salads. Any cut of pasta will do&mdashshort pastas, though, are usually preferred because they are more practical for mixing, serving and eating. What we love about our whole wheat pasta is the subtle, toasty flavor it adds to cold salads. And with DeLallo whole wheat, there is no fear of a gritty bite or an overwhelming earthy flavor. For more information about our whole wheat pasta, click here.

Here are 11 of our favorite pasta salad creations. Try one of these, or better yet create your own and share it with us on Instagram @delallofoods!

50 Picnic Salads

Don't forget the sides! Round out your menu with these crowd-pleasers from Food Network Magazine.

Related To:


Pimiento Macaroni Salad (No. 2)

Pimiento Macaroni Salad (No. 2)

1. Classic Macaroni Salad Cook 1 pound macaroni drain and rinse. Mix 1/2 cup each sour cream and mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon each yellow mustard, cider vinegar and relish, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Toss with the pasta, 1 1/2 cups each diced ham and thawed frozen peas, and 1/2 chopped red onion. Top with dill.

2. Pimiento Macaroni Salad Cook 1 pound macaroni drain and rinse. Toss with 4 cups shredded sharp cheddar, 3/4 cup mayonnaise, one 8-ounce jar pimientos (drained and chopped), 4 chopped scallions and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne season with salt.

3. Grilled Vegetable–Pasta Salad Cook 1 pound fusilli drain and rinse. Grill 1 pound tomatoes, 2 quartered bell peppers and 1 sliced zucchini over medium-high heat until tender and charred, 15 to 20 minutes. Pulse in a food processor with 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin until chopped. Toss with the pasta, and salt and pepper.

4. Broccoli-Cheddar Pasta Salad Cook 1 pound rotini, adding 4 cups broccoli to the water during the last 4 minutes drain and rinse. Toss with 2/3 cup diced smoked cheddar, 1 pound diced tomatoes, 1 minced shallot, the juice of 1/2 lemon, and salt and pepper.


5. Cold Peanut Noodles Cook 1 pound Chinese egg noodles drain and rinse. Whisk 1/2 cup peanut butter, 3 tablespoons each soy sauce, Sriracha and rice vinegar, and 1 tablespoon each sesame oil and grated peeled ginger. Toss with the noodles, 1 each chopped red bell pepper and cucumber, and 1/2 cup chopped cilantro season with salt.

6. Soba Noodles with Edamame Cook 12 ounces soba noodles, adding 2 cups frozen shelled edamame to the water drain and rinse. Puree 2 chopped carrots with 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 3 tablespoons each rice vinegar and chopped peeled ginger, and 2 teaspoons each sugar and minced shallot. Toss with the noodles and edamame season with salt.

7. Spinach-Pesto Pasta Salad Cook 1 pound farfalline drain and rinse. Puree 4 cups baby spinach, 2 cups each basil and parsley leaves, 1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds and 3/4 cup olive oil. Toss with the pasta, the juice of 1 lemon and 1 cup grated parmesan season with salt.

8. Caponata Pasta Salad Cook 1 cup ditalini drain and rinse. Sauté 1 each diced eggplant, onion and fennel bulb, and 2 chopped garlic cloves in olive oil until tender season with salt and pepper. Let cool. Toss with the pasta, 1 chopped tomato, 1 cup torn basil, 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, and salt and pepper.


9. Italian-Deli Pasta Salad Cook 1 pound penne drain and rinse. Mix 1/3 cup mayonnaise and 3 tablespoons each olive oil and red wine vinegar. Toss with the pasta, one 16-ounce jar giardiniera (drained and chopped), 1 cup each diced provolone and salami, 1/4 cup each chopped parsley and basil, and salt and pepper.

10. Italian-Deli Bean Salad Make Italian-Deli Pasta Salad (No. 9), replacing the pasta with three 15-ounce cans cannellini beans (rinsed).


11. Three-Bean Salad Boil 1 pound each trimmed green and yellow beans until tender, about 7 minutes drain and rinse. Whisk 6 tablespoons olive oil, 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar and 1 tablespoon each dijon mustard and chopped tarragon. Toss with the beans, one 15-ounce can small red beans (rinsed), 1 sliced shallot, and salt and pepper.

12. Green Bean–Cucumber Salad Boil 1 1/2 pounds trimmed green beans until tender, about 7 minutes drain and rinse. Toss with 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 1 pint halved grape tomatoes, 1 sliced small English cucumber, 1 thinly sliced shallot, and salt and pepper.

13. Spicy Black-Eyed Pea Salad Cook 1 pound frozen black-eyed peas in simmering water, about 5 minutes drain. Toss with 1 diced red bell pepper, 1 cup diced ham, 1/2 cup chopped chives, 1/4 cup each olive oil, cider vinegar and chopped pickled jalapenos (plus 2 tablespoons brine), and salt and pepper.


14. Black Bean–Corn Salad Whisk 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons honey and the juice of 3 limes. Toss with two 15-ounce cans black beans (rinsed), 1 cup thawed frozen corn,1 diced bell pepper, 1 bunch chopped scallions, 1/2 cup cilantro, and salt and pepper. Add 1 diced avocado.

15. Southwestern Rice Salad Cook 1 1/2 cups rice with 1 teaspoon each chili powder and cumin in 3 cups simmering water, covered, about 18 minutes let cool. Toss with one 15-ounce can red beans (rinsed), 1/2 sliced red onion, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, 1 minced jalapeño, 1/3 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons lime juice, and salt and pepper.


16. Pecan Rice Salad Cook 2 cups brown rice in 4 cups simmering water, covered, 45 to 50 minutes, adding 1 cup chopped green beans during the last 5 minutes. Let cool. Toss with 1 cup each chopped mixed herbs and salted roasted pecans, 1/3 cup olive oil, the juice of 1 lemon, and salt and pepper.

17. Asparagus-Quinoa Salad Cook 1 1/2 cups quinoa in 3 1/2 cups simmering water, covered, about 15 minutes let cool. Boil 1 cup frozen lima beans, covered, about 11 minutes, adding 1 bunch sliced asparagus to the water during the last 3 minutes rinse. Toss with the quinoa, 1/4 cup each chopped mint and olive oil, the juice of 1 lemon, and salt and pepper.


18. Citrus Quinoa Salad Cook 1 1/2 cups quinoa in 3 1/2 cups simmering water, covered, about 15 minutes let cool. Toss with 1 bunch chopped scallions, 1 sliced fennel bulb, the segments from 1 orange, 1/4 cup each olive oil and orange juice, and salt and pepper. Top with fennel fronds.

19. Tabouli Cook 1 cup bulgur in 2 cups simmering water, covered, about 20 minutes let cool. Toss with 5 bunches chopped parsley, 2 cups shredded romaine, 3 diced plum tomatoes, 4 finely chopped scallions, 1/2 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup each lemon juice and chopped mint season with salt.


Cauliflower Tabouli (No. 20)

20. Cauliflower Tabouli Make Tabouli (No. 19), replacing the bulgur with 1 grated head raw cauliflower. Use 2 bunches parsley.

21. Curried Couscous Salad Combine 2 cups each couscous and simmering water, 1/2 cup each golden raisins and diced dried apricots, and 1 teaspoon each curry powder and kosher salt cover and let sit 10 minutes. Let cool. Toss with 1 cup chopped parsley, 1/2 cup each chopped toasted pistachios and slivered almonds, 1/4 cup each mango chutney and olive oil, and the juice of 2 oranges.

22. Moroccan Couscous Salad Combine 1 1/2 cups couscous, 3/4 teaspoon each ground cumin, coriander, cinnamon and kosher salt, and 1 1/2 cups simmering water cover and let sit 10 minutes. Let cool. Boil 1 pound sliced carrots, 4 minutes drain. Toss with the couscous, one 15-ounce can chickpeas (rinsed), 1/4 cup each chopped green olives, cilantro and olive oil, the juice of 1 lemon, and salt and pepper.

23. Mushroom-Barley Salad Cook 2 cups pearl barley in 6 cups simmering water, covered, about 45 minutes let cool. Toss with 8 ounces each quartered cherry tomatoes and sliced cremini mushrooms, 1/4 cup each chopped parsley and olive oil, 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper.

24. Farro–Brussels Sprout Salad Cook 2 cups farro in 8 cups simmering water, stirring occasionally, 40 minutes drain and let cool. Toss with 4 cups shredded Brussels sprouts, 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts, 1/2 sliced red onion, 1/2 cup olive oil, the zest and juice of 1 lemon, and salt and pepper.

25. Grilled Vegetable–Bulgur Salad Cook 1 cup bulgur in 2 cups simmering water, covered, about 20 minutes let cool. Toss 1 each sliced zucchini and bell pepper, and 1/2 each sliced eggplant and red onion with olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill over medium heat, flipping, until tender, 8 minutes. Toss with the bulgur, 1/2 cup each chopped parsley and crumbled feta, 1/4 cup each red wine vinegar and olive oil, and salt and pepper.

26. Lentil Salad Cook 2 cups French lentils in 6 cups simmering water, about 25 minutes let cool. Whisk 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1 grated garlic clove, 1 teaspoon ground cumin and 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander. Toss with the lentils, 1 diced red bell pepper, 1/2 diced red onion, 1/2 cup chopped parsley, and salt and pepper.

Watch the video: The Absolute Best Italian Pasta Salad for Summer Picnics (July 2022).


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