Pasta and Bean Picnic Salad

Pasta and Bean Picnic Salad! This is a spin on classic pasta salad with a white beans, fresh summer vegetables, and a light vinaigrette. No mayo.

Pasta Bean Picnic Salad
Sheryl Julian

A picnic table without pasta salad feels like something is missing. You can put out all kinds of beautiful dishes, but pasta salad has to be one of them. It’s dependable, kids love it -- and so does Nana.

This recipe combines pasta with beans and fresh vegetables for a more substantial picnic salad. The dressing is a simple vinaigrette – no mayo – so the flavors stay fresh and bright.

Pasta Bean Picnic Salad
Sheryl Julian

I like to use a small hollow pasta like pipe rigate, which are stubby little curlicues that look like the end of a pipe! I like that the beans magically fall into the round openings when you stir and serve the pasta, as if you had painstakingly placed them there.

This said, you can also use any of the flat or corkscrew shapes – penne, fusilli, rotini, cavatappi – or pretty bow-ties.

Pasta Bean Picnic Salad
Sheryl Julian

Prep work for this salad is minimal. You just need to cook pasta, make a vinaigrette, chop up some herbs and vegetables, and open a few cans of beans. (You can also make your beans from scratch on the stove or in a pressure cooker!) Mix it all together and serve.

This recipe calls for a pound of pasta and two cans of white beans – it will serve a crowd, for sure! But with any luck, the table will have so much food that you’ll get to take some of your salad back home for lunch tomorrow.

Pasta and Bean Picnic Salad

Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Servings 8 to 12 servings

This recipe can be prepared up to a day ahead.


  • 3 teaspoons salt

  • 1 pound small-shaped pasta (curly, twisted, corkscrew, shells, or bow-ties)

  • 7 tablespoons olive oil, divided

  • 2 cans (15-to 16-ounces each) white beans, like Great Northern, navy, or cannellini, drained and rinsed

  • Zest from 1 lemon

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  • 1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1 pint mixed cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced or cut into quarters

  • 2 stalks celery, halved lengthwise and very thinly sliced

  • 1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley


  1. Cook the pasta:

    Bring a large pot of water with 2 teaspoons of the salt to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes or until the pasta is tender.

    Drain but do not rinse; shake the colander to remove excess water.

  2. Combine the pasta and beans:

    Transfer the pasta to a large bowl and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Shake the bowl to distribute the oil.

    Add the rinsed beans and lemon zest to the hot pasta. Stir the salad gently. Leave to cool.

    Pasta Bean Picnic Salad
    Sheryl Julian
  3. Make the dressing:

    In a bowl, whisk the vinegar, mustard, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Slowly whisk in the remaining 4 tablespoons oil until it is all added.

    Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like.

  4. Finish mixing the salad:

    Pour the dressing over the pasta and beans and stir. Add the tomatoes, celery, onion, and parsley to the pasta mixture and stir gently but thoroughly.

    Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. You can also squeeze some lemon juice over the top if it needs a touch more brightness.

Pasta Bean Picnic Salad
Sheryl Julian
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
237 Calories
9g Fat
31g Carbs
9g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8 to 12
Amount per serving
Calories 237
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 11%
Saturated Fat 1g 6%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 552mg 24%
Total Carbohydrate 31g 11%
Dietary Fiber 6g 20%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 9g
Vitamin C 6mg 31%
Calcium 76mg 6%
Iron 3mg 19%
Potassium 508mg 11%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.