Jalapeño peppers spice up this meatless side (or main)
So this year the we learned what a “heat dome” is (a high-pressure system that traps hot air underneath it, raising already hot summer temperatures well above average).
To cool down, we’ve been eating plenty of chilled salads for dinner. We love cold pasta salads in the summer, and adding white beans pumps up both flavor and nutrition. Perfect for Meatless Monday. Or any other day, for that matter.
Curry powder and jalapeño add even more zip to this dish. So it’s just the thing to take your mind off the heat.
Recipe: Curried White Bean and Pasta Salad
You can easily alter this recipe to suit your mood. Just add more white beans, for example, or use another kind of bean (we think garbanzos would be good). Or skip the beans altogether and substitute leftover chicken, pork, or fish. Or add some additional veggies to the mix. Lots of possibilities here.
Prep time for this dish is about half an hour. Plus, you’ll need to let it chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
As a main course, this recipe will serve 3 to 4 (twice that number as a side dish). Leftovers keep well for a few days if refrigerated in an airtight container.
- 8 ounces dried pasta (preferably one with an interesting shape; we like shells, but macaroni, penne, farfalle, or other shapes work well too)
- 1 tablespoon salt for seasoning the pasta cooking water
- 1 to 2 cups frozen peas
- 1 15-ounce can white beans (can double this amount if you want)
- ½ onion (or to taste)
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 to 2 jalapeño peppers (to taste)
- 3 to 4 tablespoons fresh parsley or cilantro
- ¾ to 1 cup mayonnaise (preferably Homemade, but commercial works well too)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons cider vinegar (to taste; optional)
- 1 or 2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard (to taste; optional)
- 1 tablespoon curry powder (or to taste)
- ½ teaspoon dried turmeric
- additional salt to taste (about ½ teaspoon kosher salt; see Notes)
- freshly ground black pepper to taste (about 10 grinds for us)
- garnish of jalapeño pepper slices or parsley or cilantro (optional)
- Fill a large cooking pot (one that holds at least 4 quarts) almost to the rim with water. Place it on the stove top, cover, and turn the heat to high. When water boils, add salt, then add the pasta. When the water returns to a boil, turn the heat down so the water stays at a rolling simmer. Set a timer for 6 minutes. At the 6-minute mark, add the frozen peas to the pasta. Cook for another 2 minutes, then start testing the pasta for doneness – you want the pasta to be firm, but with just a little resistance (al dente). When the pasta is done, pour the pasta and peas into a colander. Using the vegetable sprayer from your sink, douse with cold water until the pasta and peas are cool. Drain the pasta and peas, then set them aside.
- Meanwhile, open the can of white beans and pour them into a colander or strainer. Rinse the beans, drain them, then place them in a large mixing bowl.
- Peel the onion and cut it into dice of ¼ inch or so. Add the onion to the mixing bowl.
- Wash and dry the bell pepper, then remove the stem and core. Remove the white ribs. Cut the bell pepper into dice of ½ inch or a bit less. Add the chopped pepper to the mixing bowl.
- Wash the jalapeño peppers and cut them lengthwise. Use a teaspoon to scoop out the ribs and seeds (be careful, the oil on these is hot; keep fingers away from your eyes). Chop the peppers into very small dice (or use a mini food processor; you may want to reserve a round or two of the jalapeño for garnish). Add the chopped jalapeños to the mixing bowl, then wash your hands with soap and water to remove the hot oil from your skin.
- Wash and dry the parsley or cilantro. Mince it, then add it to the mixing bowl (you may want to reserve a few sprigs for garnish).
- Add the mayonnaise (start with ¾ cup, and increase if needed), cider vinegar (if using; start with 1 tablespoon), Dijon-style mustard (if using), curry powder, dried turmeric, salt, and black pepper to the mixing bowl. Mix briefly, then add the drained pasta and peas (from Step 1). Mix thoroughly, then taste the salad. Adjust the seasoning to your taste, and add more mayo if necessary.
- Scrape the salad into an airtight container (or cover the mixing bowl with shrink wrap) and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.
- When serving, we like to add a garnish of jalapeño pepper slices or a sprig or two of parsley or cilantro.
- Homemade mayonnaise is awesome in this dish, but commercial versions work fine. The amount of mayo we suggest makes a fairly “dry” salad, so add more if you want a creamier dish.
- We like a Dijon-style mustard in this dish, but regular yellow mustard works too.
- Cider vinegar adds a nice touch of acid to this salad.
- How much salt and black pepper to use? Really, add just enough until it tastes good to you.
- We use kosher salt, which is less salty by volume than regular table salt (its large crystals don’t pack as densely). If using regular table salt, start with about half as much as we suggest. But, as always, season to taste.
- Do you have some cooked leftover veggies on hand? They might make a nice addition to this salad.
- As would quartered cherry or grape tomatoes.
- We’ve made this salad both with white beans and with leftover roast chicken. Both versions are good, but we prefer the bean version. We haven’t tried this recipe with garbanzo beans, but think they would be wonderful.
Hot Enough for Ya?
“Cool salad,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Great for this hot weather.”
“Yes, indeed,” I said. “If you can’t stand the heat . . . make cold pasta salad.”
“Just don’t stay out of the kitchen,” said Mrs K R. “That’s where the refrigerator is.”
“You may take some heat for that comment,” I said.
“Just using my bean,” said Mrs K R. “So chill.”
If only we could.
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