No Brainer Pasta Salad

No Brainer Pasta Salad

Dinner plans fall through? Need something tasty to bring to a socially-distanced picnic? This is a fail-proof pasta salad that everyone loves (except for Gluten-free folks – sorry!) and can be put together in less than an hour with mostly pantry basics and a little fresh vege.

You can use other vegetables like tomatoes, but the ingredients below hold up really well in transportation and can sit out a bit without looking sad and wilty.

You will need:

  • 1 16oz box of penne pasta
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • store bought balsamic dressing
  • 1 can black olives
  • 1 can garbanzos
  • 1 can black beans
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup parmesan (optional)
  • salt and ground black pepper to season

If you’re scrambling to get this together, here’s the fastest way to assemble. First get hot water boiling and get the penne pasta in.  If you don’t have a bottle of balsamic salad dressing (store bought) in chilled in the refridgerator, pop it in the freezer RIGHT NOW.

While the pasta is cooking, open, rinse and drain the following cans: 1 can of gabanzos, 1 can black beans, 1 can black olives.

Also while the pasta is cooking dice up one red bell pepper and set aside 2 -3 cups of fresh pre-washed spinach leaves.

When the pasta is al dente, rinse in a collander strainer with COLD water until the pasta has cooled completely and is not warmer than ‘luke warm’.

Dump cooked pasta into a large bowl. Drizzle about 1 tablepoon olive oil and mix so the noodles don’t stick. Pour in all of the beans and olives.

Take the dressing out of the freezer and add in at least 1/2 cup. Stir everything until coated.

The last step is to mix in the red pepper and spinach and toss gently. You don’t want the spinach to get overly saturated or squished, so that’s why we add it last. It makes the pasta salad look fresh and it adds a nice subtle crunch.  Season with a little salt and ground black pepper. This pasta salad does not need to be ultra chilled, in fact it tastes best when it’s room temperature, or just slightly cool!

Cover and RUN off to your event knowing that you’re pasta salad is going to be a hit! Don’t forget to bring a large serving spoon! Optional: Mix in 1/2 cup of good quality shredded parmesan.



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