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When I was younger I recall pasta salads being a staple item come summer time. They were ubiquitous at summer barbecues and beach parties. I haven't encountered a pasta salad in the longest time and I don't know if this is because people are still steering clear on account of the low-carb craze or what but I miss these salads and I'm bringing one back!
I first made this salad a year ago when I came across the recipe in a Martha Stewart cookbook. I remember why I tried it in the first place – the idea of a minestrone salad sounded so good to me. I love minestrone soup so I figured it wasn't much of a stretch to assume I'd like this salad. This salad brings together a symphony of summer vegetables and it still amazes me that with such simple seasonings this salad packs so much flavor! It's the perfect dish to bring along to a summer pot-luck or simply to enjoy with any summer meal. This is also a very easy recipe to double so you can accomodate any size crowd!
Minestrone Salad from Martha Stewart Living Annual Recipes 2002
1 Teaspoon coarse salt (I use sea salt)
8 oz. Gemelli or other pasta (I used farfalle)
1/4 Cup extra virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch dice (I also added a summer squash, cut into 1/2-inch dice)
4 oz. green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups corn kernels, cut from 1 ear, or defrosted (I used defrosted)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons baslamic vinegar
1 15 oz. can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 pound of tomatoes, coarsely chopped – use whatever variety is fresh – I used grape tomatoes
1 handful chopped fresh basil
1) Boil water for the pasta, once it comes to a boil add a big pinch of salt and then add the pasta. Depending on the type of pasta you've chosen the exact cooking time may vary – check the box and then test the pasta a few minutes before the instructions on the box. That way you can make sure to get the pasta al dente without over cooking. Because the pasta will continue cooking a little while after being drained and it will absorb the dressing you want the pasta to be very al dente. Drain and rinse pasta and set aside.
2) Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until it begins to soften – about 2 minutes. Then add the carrot – cook for 4 minutes. Next add teh zucchini, green beans, and corn. Cook until all of the veggies are tender about 10-15 minutes – stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the veggies to a bowl, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, the balsamic vinegar, cannellini beans, tomatoes, and the pasta. I also added freshly chopped basil. Taste the salad and adjust the flavors – add more salt/pepper if necessary. Serve chilled or at room temperature.