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Kids Cook Monday: Pasta Salad with Chickpeas, Red Kidney Beans, and Tuna
Pasta Salad Is an Easy Dinner!
Some days you just need something fast and easy to throw together. If the kids can help you, so much the better. Pasta salad fits the bill: you boil the water, and your kids can do just about everything else.
- 1 lb pasta
- 1 can chickpeas
- 1 can red kidney beans
- 2 cans tuna
- 1/2 c frozen peas
- 2–3 oz green olives
- Fat-free Italian dressing
1. First, get the pasta started. You and your kids can do most of the rest of the prep while the pasta is cooking. Let your kids choose a "fun" pasta for this salad. We like tricolor rotini because it's pretty, but when I was a kid we always made this with wagon wheels. Mini shells are fun too, because sometimes the beans hide inside.
2. Take out a colander and a very large bowl or a 3–4 quart container with a tight-fitting lid to mix the pasta salad in. Have your kids go on an ingredient hunt in the pantry.
3. Open all the cans if your children are too young to use the can opener. (I like Goya Beans because their cans have pull tabs.)
4. Let your kids empty both cans of beans into the colander and rinse them off well. Give them a shake to get the excess water off, and then pour them into the big bowl or container. Put the colander back into the sink to drain the pasta when it's ready.
5. Zap your frozen peas in the microwave for 3–4 minutes. Don't dry them out! If the bowl is cool enough, have your child add the peas to the container.
6. As soon as the pasta is done, drain it. It should be cool and dry before mixing with the other ingredients, so let your child spray it with cold water in the sink and then shake it a little to get the water off. Then add it to the bowl.
7. Add olives to taste. We love olives in our household, so we use a lot (usually manzanilla olives with pimiento or salad olives, but sliced black olives would work well, too).
8. Drain the cans of tuna and add them to the mix. If you use solid white tuna, break it up with a fork so it gets distributed evenly throughout.
9. Add fat-free Italian dressing so the pasta doesn't stick together. (I use fat-free because it doesn't separate, but if you're serving immediately, regular dressing works fine.) If you chill the pasta salad before eating, the dressing will get absorbed, so you will probably want to add more just before serving or pass the bottle around for people to add more to their own servings.
10. The final step — mix it all up! If you have a container with a tight-fitting lid, let your kids shake it up. Otherwise, give them a big spoon for stirring. You can serve this immediately, but we like it best chilled. Enjoy!