Can you believe we’re nearly halfway through May? I certainly can’t. Soon enough summer will be upon us, which, in the land of pasta (or maybe just my brain), means one thing: pasta salad season. For all the hullabaloo around serving pasta hot—“pasta does not wait for anyone or anything,” a chef I worked for used to say, glaring at guests craning their phones over bowls of tortelloni—pasta is also really great cold. In Italy, pasta fredda (cold pasta) is tossed with the likes of peak-season tomatoes and other vegetables, olives, tuna (or meat), fresh cheeses, and a simple vinaigrette before being packed into beach- or barbeque-bound containers.
While the cool breezes and verdant hues of spring still hang in the air, I’m easing into pasta salad season with something a little more substantial. I’ve replaced the traditional light dressing with something creamy and vibrant, and bulked it up with my favorite canned beans: butter beans. “Butter beans” is actually just a clever marketing ploy for large lima beans; Greek gigante beans and Italian corona beans are similar and would work incredibly well here, too. I love these oversized white beans for their velvety texture and ability to command attention on a plate. I also love them because they know how to hold their shape, even when cooked down and tossed around—something important in a dish like this where you want to experience each component separately, as well as together. I’ve tried many butter bean brands and my favorite remains, without question, Bush’s. They so effortlessly melt in your mouth that I could (and do) snack on them straight from the can.
My suggestion: Make this tonight, pop it in the fridge, and enjoy it all weekend long.
Avocado Pasta Salad with Butter Beans & Basil