Green bean and pasta salad (4 servings)

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Sometimes simple really is best, as illustrated by this recipe from the November issue of Real Simple. This dish contains three main components (a starch, a vegetable, and a protein) and only a handful of seasonings, but the flavors work together beautifully. You'll need only a few minutes to put this meal together, and you can easily serve this dish for lunch or dinner.

You will need:

  • 8 oz dry penne pasta
  • 8 oz green beans
  • 1 15-oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley leaves
  • 4 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp lemon juice (takes one large lemon)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Steps:

  1. Start a stockpot of water boiling for the pasta. Meanwhile, trim the ends of the green beans and then cut what remains into pieces the same length as the penne.
  2. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Add the green beans to the water during the last 3 minutes of cooking. Drain and rinse under cold water.
  3. Toss the cooled pasta and green beans with the remaining ingredients. Serve right away at room temperature or chill the salad to eat for lunch the next day.

I don't think I'd change anything when I make this again. I loved the creamy kidney beans paired with the crunchy green beans. The parsley and lemon livened up this dish, and the olive oil held everything together. You could serve this pasta salad on top of mixed greens for an elegant lunch or a light supper.