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Posted by Dina-Marie Oswald on

When you hear Pasta Salad, do you think “summertime meal”?

If you answered “yes”, Zesty Pasta Salad will change your mind!

Yes, it is a cool refreshing meal in a salad. But, it is also so delicious, you will not want to wait until the summertime to enjoy it!

We are harvesting the last Montepulciano grapes of the year today! It is very exciting but it will be a long day – we have estimated that there will be about 29 tons – PTL, Hurray, Yippee…!

John and the boys run the harvester and move the bins of grapes from the truck to the scale and finally onto the reefer which is a fancy name for a refrigerated 18 wheeler truck. I keep a record of all the bin weights so we know how many tons we are actually sending to the wineries and how much to bill them for – that is important!

Needless to say, I won’t be spending time in the kitchen.

Enter Zesty Pasta Salad!

zesty pasta salad

Zesty Pasta Salad is a great make ahead meal!

To make it more economical, I use dried beans which I soak overnight before cooking. Grains, beans and seeds have phytic acid in the bran and hulls which is an anti-nutrient. It binds with essential minerals (like calium) and prevents the absorption of those minerals in your body. That was the bad new. The good news is that phytic acid can be neutralized through soaking – for more information and the how-to’s, see Proper Grain Preparation.

Having a large family means cooking large quantities. Feeding a large family on a budget can be especially challenging.  I normally take a recipe and triple or quadruple it. If you have ever tried to take a recipe and multiply it, you know that many times the spices are just not quite right. Often you cannot just multiply the spices- it turns out too spicy. Taste testing certainly has its place in my kitchen – a little bit of this and a little bit of that, taste it and repeat!

With pasta, it is so easy to throw more noodles in the pot and adjust the other ingredients accordingly – tasting as I go, of course! Pasta is economical, healthy and filling – that is important with teenage farm boys!

Before I give you the Zesty Pasta Salad Recipe, there are a couple more things I should tell you! I used store bought rotini pasta but homemade, regular, specialty or gluten free pasta works well too. And, you can use store bought Italian dressing or basic homemade dressing but the Raisin Vinaigrette is absolutely delicious on it!

Zesty Pasta Salad



Serves 6


  • 1 lb garden rotini pasta
  • kidney beans - 1 lb dry or 2 cans
  • 1 can black olives, chopped
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3/4 - 1 c salad dressing, Homemade, Raisin Vinaigrette or store bought Italian
  • salt and pepper

    I buy all my real salt and spices from my affiliate partner, Starwest Botanicals because of their superior quality. Their herbs & spices are organic, non-irradiated plus, I think they are more aromatic and full flavored than any others.


  1. Soak dry kidney beans overnight then cook until tender.
  2. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
  3. Add all ingredients together and mix well.
  4. Adjust seasonings adding more dressing if needed to coat well.
  5. Serve and Enjoy!