Mediterranean Salad

Pay attention to the details of preparation, and you will be rewarded with a quintessential summer salad.


8 dry oz. PastaOf the short variety, such as short rigatoni or medium shells
½ lb. String Beans Fresh, as small and tender as you can find
½ cup Green PepperDiced, about one quarter inch
1 cup CeleryDiced, about one quarter inch
½ cup ScallionsSliced thinly
1 cup TomatoesGrape, or cherry variety, sliced in half and sprinkled with a little salt and black pepper
½ cup Olives, MediterraneanPitted, and sliced in half
1 clove GarlicGood sized, minced
¼ cup Balsamic VinegarApproximate, to your taste
1 tbsp Mustard, preparedDijon type works best here
¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive OilApproximate, may need a bit more
1 tsp Salt
¼ tsp Black PepperOr, to taste
¼ tsp White PepperOptional, to taste


1 Prepare the string beans by cutting off the stem end, washing, and putting them in a medium-sized sauce pot; add just a tablespoon of water, cooking over medium heat, and let them steam with cover askew just until the water evaporates. This should take about five minutes, and the beans should be tender-crisp, and bright green. As they cook, you have to stir the beans and watch that they do not get browned on the bottom. It's alright to add just a bit more water to prevent burning. Put the beans in a separate bowl and let them cool. After cooled some, sprinkle with salt, and especially white pepper.
2 For the pasta, bring a good-sized sauce pot filled with water to boil. Add about a teaspoon of salt. Pour in the pasta and let cook until it absorbs water and softens some but still retains some bite. I often take a piece out and test it by cutting it with a knife, or even my teeth! Drain the pasta well and pour it into a large mixing bowl. Let it sit about a minute or two. Add a scant tablespoon of the extra virgin olive oil. The oil adds subtle flavor, but most of all keeps the pasta from sticking. Mix well. Add the minced garlic and mix in. This helps the garlic flavor become infused into the pasta as it cools. After about five minutes, add about two good tablespoons of the balsamic vinegar and mix well. This is very important to the end taste result.
3 For the vinaigrette: mix together the remaining vinegar and the mustard. Add the remaining olive oil, to taste. Add a pinch of salt, and give this mixture a really good mix, either by shaking in a bottle, or perhaps whisking.
4 After the pasta has reached room temperature, add the green pepper, celery, and tomatoes.
5 Add about half the vinaigrette to the string beans and mix well. Add the beans and olives to the salad. Now, pour the remaining vinaigrette on the combined salad.
6 The salad is now ready. It should be eaten at room temperature. Sometimes I have a little extra vinaigrette which I add to some salad greens as an accompaniment to the pasta salad.
7 Feel free to make substitutions, such as colored peppers for the green pepper, or you could add avocado cut into smallish pieces.