This recipe turns the elements of a winter favorite - vegetables, beans and pasta - into a side dish fit for a summertime lunch or light supper.
Salami replaces the flavor of sausage typically found in the soup; prosciutto or any smoked ham would work as well. For a vegetarian version, omit the meat and double the amount of chopped basil.
When you're cutting the vegetables and meat, aim for pieces about the same size as the chickpeas.
MINESTRONE PASTA SALAD
12 servings (makes about 8 1/2 cups)
8 ounces dried ditalini pasta
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
1 medium (4 ounces) zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
4 ounces green beans (ends trimmed), cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 medium (4 ounces total) carrots, scrubbed well, then cut into generous 1/4-inch cubes (3/4 cup)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
1/8 teaspoon sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup cooked, no-salt-added chickpeas (drained and rinsed if using canned)
3/4 cup cooked, no-salt-added Great Northern beans (drained and rinsed if using canned)
2 ounces sliced hard Italian salami, cut into generous 1/4-inch squares
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil, plus more for optional garnish
One 6-ounce tomato, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice, for garnish (optional)
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the ditalini and cook according to the package directions. Use a slotted spoon/strainer to transfer the pasta to a colander set in the sink; rinse with cold water to cool immediately.
Return the pot of water to a boil.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium nonstick saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes, stirring. Add the zucchini pieces and cook for 3 minutes; the vegetable should still be firm. Remove from the heat.
Prepare a bowl of water and ice.
Add the string bean pieces to the pot of boiling water; cook for 3 minutes. Add the carrots and cook for 3 minutes - no longer. Immediately drain the vegetables, then transfer them to the ice-water bath. After 10 minutes, drain the vegetables. Lay them out on paper towels or on a clean dish towel to dry.
Whisk together the remaining 5 tablespoons of the oil, the balsamic and red wine vinegars, oregano, mustard and sugar in a large bowl, to form an emulsified dressing. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add the cooked pasta, zucchini-onion mix, carrots, green beans, chickpeas, Great Northern beans, salami and chopped basil; stir to incorporate.
Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed. Transfer to a serving bowl. If desired, garnish with basil and diced tomato just before serving.
Nutrition per serving: 190 calories, 5 g protein, 22 g carbohydrates, 9 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 115 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 2 g sugar