White Bean and Arugula Pasta Salad

Cooking for a Crowd, Cooking for One or Two, Recipes, Worknight Dinners
arugula white bean pasta salad
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argula white bean pasta salad

Photo: Leigh Loftus

If there is one downside to knowing how to cook, it’s that once your friends figure out that you know how to cook, they will expect you to do it quite well. Or, maybe they could care less but you just think they do.

Either way, all it takes is one dinnertime home run to feel pressured to pull of an amazing kitchen feat every time. And if you hit it over the fence twice? You can probably get away with using really dumb baseball metaphors when you’re talking about dinner. The moral of this story is that whenever I go to someone’s house for dinner or a wine and cheese party or to see their new baby or really just show up for any domestically-oriented get together, I feel compelled to pull out all of the stops with delicious food that I would, quite honestly, probably never even make for myself if not for the opportunity.

A lot of the cooking we do is motivated by that, opportunity. We cook for guests, we cook for picnics, we cook for potlucks. We’re all for cooking for occasions but a Tuesday night dinner seems low on the totem pole. So, here’s a pro tip. Next time you’re asked to bring a dish to someone’s home or a snack for a housewarming party, create something that you can just as easily turn into your own meal. It’s the benefits of “company food” as in, something you’d make for company, but you can also enjoy it just as much in the solitude of your own kitchen.

My favorite thing about the particular pasta salad is that it’s as good cold, as a picnic side dish to bring to a party, as it is slightly warmed.  If you want to repurpose it into a dinner for one, toss it with a little bit of basil or even just heat it up topped with some olive oil and parmesan cheese and you’ll have yourself a healthy meal.

arugula white bean pasta salad

Photo: Leigh Loftus

White Bean and Arugula Pesto Salad
Recipe type: Cooking for a Crowd, Cooking for One or Two, Worknight Dinners
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • ¾ pound gemelli or other short pasta
  • 1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • ¾ cup crumbled fresh goat cheese or feta (3 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 bunch arugula (8 ounces), torn
  • ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente. Drain pasta and rinse under cold water. In a large bowl, toss pasta with beans and cheese.
  2. Make dressing: In a bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, and mustard and season with salt and pepper. (To store, refrigerate pasta mixture and dressing separately, up to 1 day.) To serve, toss pasta mixture with dressing, arugula, and onion.
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