Though pasta salads can be enjoyed all year round, they’re especially welcome for warm-weather meals. Pasta salad with asparagus and peas is filled with spring flavors, perfect for welcoming the season and enjoying into early summer. If you’re looking for a cold asparagus recipe, you couldn’t have found a more enticing one!
What kind of pasta to use: You can use a variety of pastas; my favorite to make this with is orecchiette (“little ears”), which are small and delicate. If you can’t find orecchiette, alternatives suggested in the recipe are mini penne or gemelli. Truth be told, any short pasta shape will work.
What to serve with spring pasta salad
- For a light meal, pair this pasta salad with a simple protein-based cold dish like Super-Quick Two-Bean Salad. Or go an extra step to pair with Chickpeas and Green Beans with Balsamic Mushrooms.
- This pasta salad can also be served as a side for vegan burgers as well as easy tofu dishes like Lemon-Pepper Tofu Steaks.
- Another idea — it’s a great side dish to serve with grilled vegetables and plant proteins. Take it to your next potluck or picnic; take leftovers to school or work in a container.
- Mixed Green Salad with Cucumber, Radishes, and Herbs is a nice light pairing.
Ingredients for Spring Pasta Salad
- Orecchiette, mini penne, or gemelli pasta
- Marinated quartered artichoke hearts (12-ounce jar)
- Asparagus (8 ounces)
- Frozen green peas (or shelled fresh peas, about 1 cup
- Fresh dill
- Fresh parsley
- Sun-dried tomatoes (oil-cured or not, as preferred)
- Lemon juice (from 1 lemon, or bottled)
From the pantry
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
Some asparagus tips (pardon the pun!)
- Slender asparagus is often seen in spring, but too slender, as mentioned in the recipe, isn’t a good thing. You want stalks that are succulent, or you’ll just be getting a lot of skin and little flavor.
- Choose bundles with firm spears; the tips should be closed, plump and green.
- Avoid bundles whose ends look withered — a sure sign that they’re past their peak.
- If you won’t be using the asparagus right away (though you should use it within a day or two of buying), wrap the ends of the stalks with a damp paper towel and put them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
- You can also stand asparagus spears upright in a glass filled with 2 to 3 inches of cool water. That’s even better!
WHEN YOU’RE READY TO USE IT
- Wash the asparagus stalks, then cut about an inch off the stem ends.
- If the skin looks tough toward the stem end, peel about half of the stalks toward the stem end with a vegetable peeler. This isn’t a lot of fun to do, but your finished dish will be that much better for it!
- If steaming briefly to use in a cold asparagus recipe like this one, make sure to rinse the asparagus under cold running water after it steams to a nice bright green, to stop the cooking process.
- 8 ounces orecchiette, mini penne, or gemelli
- 12-ounce jar marinated quartered artichoke hearts, drained, liquid reserved
- 8 ounces asparagus (not too thick, not too thin)
- 1 cup frozen peas or 1 cup shelled fresh peas
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup sliced sun-dried tomatoes
- 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice, to taste
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain
and rinse under cool water, then drain well again.
- Meanwhile, trim away 1/2 to 1 inch of woody bottoms of the
asparagus spears. Cut them into approximately 1 l/2-inch lengths.
- Combine the asparagus in a skillet or saucepan with a small amount of the artichoke liquid. Cover and steam over medium heat for a minute or so, then add the peas. Continue to steam briefly until the asparagus is tender-crisp and bright green, then drain and rinse until cool.
- Combine the cooked pasta, asparagus, and peas with the remaining
ingredients in a large serving bowl. Toss gently and thoroughly. Drizzle in a little more of the artichoke liquid to moisten, then toss again. Cover and refrigerate until needed or serve at once.
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