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Kids Cook Monday: Pasta Salad with Chickpeas, Red Kidney Beans, and Tuna

Updated on March 29, 2016
Our family's favorite kid-friendly pasta salad
Our family's favorite kid-friendly pasta salad | Source

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.

Ingredients for Pasta Salad with Chickpeas, Red Kidney Beans, and Tuna
Ingredients for Pasta Salad with Chickpeas, Red Kidney Beans, and Tuna | Source

Ingredients

  • 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

Cook Time

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 10 min
Ready in: 20 min
Yields: Serves six as a main course

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.

Rinse the beans well to get the can liquid off.
Rinse the beans well to get the can liquid off. | Source

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.

Aren't those peas pretty?
Aren't those peas pretty? | Source

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.

Adding the olives one by one takes time, but if that's what works for my son, who am I to question it?
Adding the olives one by one takes time, but if that's what works for my son, who am I to question it? | Source

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.

Add plenty of Italian dressing as lubricant to make the salad toss smoothly.
Add plenty of Italian dressing as lubricant to make the salad toss smoothly. | Source

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!

4.3 stars from 4 ratings of Pasta Salad with Chickpeas, Red Kidney Beans, and Tuna

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    • bearnmom profile image

      Laura L Scotty 5 years ago from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

      You had me drooling until I saw the word tuna. I only like tuna served as tuna salad by itself. I will try this recipe but leave out the tuna. Perhaps it would be just as good with canned chicken.

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
      Author

      Brainy Bunny 5 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      I've never tried canned chicken, but I bet it would be delicious. That reminds me of another pasta salad recipe I have that uses chicken, carrots, green pepper, and Vidalia onion dressing. Mmmmm. . . .

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 5 years ago from Jamaica

      Shucks, I couldn't get the salad out from the computer! That first photo is a seller. Very easy to make and delicious! I have made similar salads and I must tell you they never last long!

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
      Author

      Brainy Bunny 5 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Thanks, Cardisa! This particular pasta salad has been a favorite of mine since I was my daughter's age, nearly 30 loooong years ago. I never tire of it!

    • profile image

      oceansider 5 years ago

      Your pasta salad looks really good! Thanks for the recipe.

      Helen

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
      Author

      Brainy Bunny 5 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Thank you, oceansider. I hope you enjoy it!

    • theclevercat profile image

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      WOW! Who would have thought peas could look so attractive? This salad looks terrific and I love the idea of putting olives in one by one. ;^)

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
      Author

      Brainy Bunny 5 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Oh yes, the whole thing becomes a work of art. (I hardly had the heart to toss the salad after my son put in the olives so carefully!)

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