Joan J’s Fabulous Five Bean and Penne Pasta Salad, Fit for a Crowd


Add marinade to bean and pasta saladMy girlfriend (and awesome cook) Ronda has brought her mother-in-law’s (Joan J) colorful and fabulous bean salad to several potluck gatherings throughout the years. Each time she does, I always go back at least for seconds, if not thirds or fourths. This is a die-for vegan dish, perfect to make year-round since you use canned beans. Not only easy to make, this recipe is extremely versatile. For instance, if you don’t like garbanzo beans (or any of the other varieties), don’t use them and substitute a bean you like. Hate black olives? Use green ones instead or just omit them. Not fond of green peppers? No worries, use more red or yellow peppers, or again, just omit them.

Joan J's Fabulous bean salad

This salad, which serves a crowd, should be made at least a day in advance so the flavors can intensify. The good news is that it does last several days in the fridge. However, I did freeze a small amount to see if that was an option for leftovers and was pleasantly surprised — the pasta was not as firm (but definitely not soggy) as when first made, but other than that the beans and other veggies fared well. Next time I make this I will add the marinade before the pasta, portion out the amount I want to freeze, and then add my preferred ratio of penne to what I plan to eat in the next few days. I do plan to can this later this summer, without the pasta, and will report the results on my FB page.

Marinade Ingredients

  • 1 cup vinegar
  • ½ cup sugar (or to taste – I used Splenda, which was the same ratio to sugar)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 package of dry Italian salad mix (I like Good Seasons)
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste


Whisk all ingredients in a bowl until well blended.

Bean salad marinade 2

Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Salad Ingredients

Joan J's bean salad ingredients

  • 8 ounces penne pasta
  • 1 (15.5 ounces) can garbanzo beans or chick peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15.5 ounces) can kidney beans, light or dark, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15.5 ounces) can lima beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15.5 ounces) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15.5 ounces) can green peas or French-Cut green beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (7.5 ounces) jar of marinated artichoke hearts (including marinade)
  • 1 (2.25 ounces) jar of pimentos
  • 1 (8 ounces) can of diced water chestnuts, drained
  • ¾ cup each of red/yellow/green peppers
  • 1 cup sweet onion, diced small
  • 4 celery stalks, diced small
  • 1 small can of black olives, drained
  • ½ cup sliced green olives
  • Marinade from recipe above


Prepare penne pasta al dente, according to package directions. Drain and cool.

Drain the rinsed beans, place in a large bowl and mix well.

Rinse, drain and mix beans

Stir in the rest of the ingredients (except the penne and marinade) until well blended.

Add the rest of ingredients to beans

Add the penne pasta to the bean salad and mix well.

Add penne

Pour in the marinade and evenly coat the salad ingredients. Refrigerate for at least a day so the flavors can intensify.

Add marinade to bean and pasta salad

Serve this as a side dish for a complete and satisfying meal.

Dinner is served with Joan's bean salad side

Or, make it the star of a salad plate, perfect for lunch or dinner.

Joan J's bean salad for lunch

Hugs and kisses Ronda, for another great recipe. And please thank Joan next time you see her!

Bon appétit!

Eat, drink and be merry!

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