A great salad, easily made from ingredients from the pantry, and long lasting fridge goodies. You can see my own (far from perfect, of course) pantry in Lydia´s blog, which features a section called "Other people´s pantries".
This has become my get out of jail free card. Whenever I have to make a meal for the four of us in five minutes, counting from putting my key in the door to sitting down at the table, this is it.
I know purists scoff at supermarket fresh pasta, and yes, I know it´s nowhere nearly as good as home made fresh pasta, and lacks the toothy character of good dried pasta. But that doesn´t matter here; what matters is speed. Provided you boil the water in an electric kettle, the dish is done in three minutes flat. You have time to lay the table, but only just.
The only non-negotiable ingredients are a packet of stuffed fresh pasta, whatever you like, and a tin of chickpeas. One packet is too mean, but two means waiting a long time for the water to come to the boil, and anyway the mixture of grain and bean is a winner.
While the pasta boils, open the tin, drain it, put it in a big bowl and begin the dressing. By far the easiest and tastiest is pesto, which you should always try to have on hand, as it´s a lifesaver. If you don´t, mix garlic, oil and whatever herb you have. Cooked broccoli or spinach, or jarred sun dried tomatoes, artichokes, olives...all these things would not be out of place, but be restrained. People tend to let their imaginations run away with them in pasta salads, and anyway you only have literally two minutes to do this.
Drain the pasta, toss, serve with more olive oil and a hunk of parmesan to grate at table.
I works well with beans, too, can be made ahead and doesn´t suffer much in transport, which screams "picnic".