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Minestrone Salad

Hungry poodle William loves pasta..

This summery pasta salad is inspired by one of my wintertime favorites: minestrone soup. You get all the vegetables, pasta and beans in traditional minestrone, but this is served chilled or at room temperature as a salad. It's a perfect take-along for picnics or poolside parties.

When I first made this I thought that 8 oz. of pasta wouldn't be enough, but it was plenty once all the ingredients were mixed together. The dressing calls for balsamic vinegar, which has a slightly sweet taste. I squeezed fresh lemon juice on my salad before serving to give it a citrusy tang. Delicious. Feel free to make this your own by adding your favorite veggies or using kidney beans instead of cannellinis. Asparagus would be nice, or yellow summer squash, whatever you can find at the farmers' market.

During our super-hot-and-humid summer days, I suggest refrigerating this salad and serving it cold topped with chopped fresh basil from your garden and a generous squeeze of lemon juice. Minestrone: it's what's for dinner winter or summer!

1 tsp. kosher salt

8 oz. short pasta, such as gemelli, fusilli or penne

3 Tbsp. olive oil

1 small onion, cut into 1/4" dice

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1/2" dice

1 zucchini, cut into 1/2" dice

4 oz. green beans, cut into 1" pieces

1 1/4 cups corn kernels

2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 (15-oz.) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1 lb. tomatoes, roughly chopped

Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add 1 tsp. salt to the boiling water. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water and set aside.

Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add carrot and cook until it softens, about 4 minutes. Add zucchini, green beans and corn. Cook until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer to a medium bowl to cool. Stir in remaining 2 Tbsp. olive oil, vinegar, beans, tomatoes and reserved pasta. Season to taste with more salt and pepper, if desired. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Serves 6

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